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Copyrights, legal stuff, etc

Discussion in 'Modelling' started by Za Rodinu, Apr 13, 2014.

  1. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Hello! I have already posted this in WW2Talk and a few other places, my excuses if you've seen this before but considering the demographics in WW2F I would ask you the kindness to consider the below.

    ---

    I wish to start up my cottage industry, I am working on the masters for a series of resin short-run models done entirely by myself, decals and all.

    Model design is being made out of my sofa using a freeware CAD application (Dassault Systèmes Draftsight), producton in my garage, litterally. Distribution hopefully worldwide. No outsourcing to China nor Timbuktu!

    So what's the catch ?

    I'm already under the impression that making models of American airplanes is a can of worms bigger than those in Dune, as Boeing holds the rights to their own, but also Douglas (as in A-29 Boston), North American (as in P-51, Skyraider, A-26), Sikorsky, etc, etc, etc. The other day I picked up a P-51 plastic kit and it had a sticker saying "Licensed by Boeing".

    In the worst case I suppose that if I want to sell a range based on the Mariannas Turkey Shoot I can do only the Turkeys, not the Shooters (assuming Messrs Mitsibishi, Nakajima et al don't go after me!), as I don't want Northrop-Grumman breathing on my neck!

    I've found in the Net a 2005 version of the Boeing License Agreement which will surely be out of date. At the time the most onerous clauses were an up-front fee of US$1000, plus 4% on your invoincing! Fine for the big boys but not for me. Oh, and they also required an insurance for US$2 million! Now I ask you, who is going to insure me for 2 million bucks and how much will it cost me? Risible! But anyway I hope that is not dedicated to the model indutry, perhaps more to the airliner component suppliers or something of the sort.


    ----

    One WW2Talk member (thank you, Martijn!) was particularly helpful. This being his specific branch, his valued opinion is:

    "According to the worldwide Berne Convention on copyright, ... In all European member states, copyrights held by companies (regardless of where they are based) expire after 70 years, counting from January 1st following the actual date of first public appearan"ce. For modellers, this means that any plane, vehicle, tank that appeared in public prior to January 1st, 1944, is now without copyright protection. And as of 1 January 2015, a new range of objects, viz., those that appeared in 1945, can be produced and distributed freely in Europe."


    But...

    "I just checked US law, and this is somewhat disappointing. US copyright law provides protection for items that were developed before 1976 (when they changed the law) for a period of 95 years starting on 1 January following the date of first appearance. This means that today only stuff older than 1 January 1919 is in the public domain.
    So, if you decide to make and sell models of objects that were first made between 01-01-1919 and 01-01-1944, don't produce them in the US and don't sell them there."
    ...
    "I think you will remain on the safe side using a disclaimer like "for copyright reasons models of US designed planes are not for sale in the the US or delivered to customers in the US", both on your website (I suppose you will be advertising on the internet) and on the box in which your products will be delivered.
    It is sad for the US residents, indeed. But on the other hand, it was their own legislator that gave this long term protection to their own companies..."
    ...
    "Of course, as always with copyright and other types of legal protection, it all depends on whether the rightholders think it worthwhile to send their legal sharks out. Sometimes you'll have bad luck, as was referred to in some of the earlier posts in this thread. And sometimes the companies don't bother, or even are happy that their designs are famous in the modellers' world since that may add to their reputation. You never can tell."



    So what is the opinion of the USians among you? Tora Tora Tora with Zeros, Vals and Kates only ?
     
  2. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Lemme toss this in the mix. Military aircraft are built under a government contract. Effectively the government owns the rights. However, unless you're going to reproduce a company logo, you should be in the clear.

    Fair use.
     
  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I know nothing that would be of any help to you, Miguel. I did not even realize that the designs were under any copyright protection and then for as long as they have been.
     
  4. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Well,with all due respect, in all likelihood, your screwed.

    Doubly so if you are listening to the WW2Talk member. If this is really his area of expertise - which I doubt - then he should know one simple salient fact...This is a matter of Trademark Law - not Copyright Law, any model manufacturer or video game producer will tell you this.

    As to the fees, some can be quite hefty, some not so much.

    Somewhat dated, but this should give you an idea of what you are looking at.
    http://www.hmahobby.org/pdfs/HMA-Membership-Memo-6.07.pdf



    It does not matter who is paying for it, the producing company still owns their intellectual property. Just because the US Government bought a high number of Humvees, does not give me the right to go out and start my own company producing Humvees, but using another name for the vehicle.

    Fair use is somewhat restricted in trademark & copyright law - and usually pertains to, say, using the word apple or a photograph of an apple with out having to pay a license fee to Apple, Inc.
     
  5. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Gromit, you are probably right and I wish it were that simple but here is a concrete example. A certain small US airmodel manufacturer had a P-38 Lightning in it's catalogue. Somehow Lockheed-Martin's lawyers heard of it and sent them a cease-and-desist order. Of course they removed the P-38 from their advertising as a) they don't have the means to fight a legal juggernaut b) license rights eventually claimed were extortionate.

    The model car and model railway industry suffer from the same. It appears that NASCAR teams claim fortunes if you want to model their cars, and some US railroad lines do the same while others look at it as free publicity and on the contrary do invite producers to photograph and provide as much data as needed of their rolling stock. With airlines it's the same thing, some are quite jealous of their image and logos, whili Dick Branson's Virgin values the free goodwill and publicity. And go try and make a model of a Ferrari.

    My business will be in the low-hundreds of each type so I hope to fly under the radar, but the risk remains. However I look aside to the lots of diecast and plastic kit companies selling all manner of US models and there they are free as birds.

    I don't believe that the boards of Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop, etc give a hoot, trouble is the copyright watch lawyer firms on the lookout and able anw willing to intimidate.
     
  6. Biak

    Biak Adjutant

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    I've always gone the "It never hurts to ask" concept. One thing to point out is we're talking about discontinued WW2 era aircraft and not current production models, That said I'd go directly to the folks in charge;

    http://www.boeing.com/boeing/companyoffices/aboutus/corpid/index.page

    You might be able to do what ever you want with the P47 since Republic is no more and ; from -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_Aviation

    During the fall of 1987, Fairchild Corporation (then Republic's parent company) destroyed Republic's corporate archives. Joshua Stoff, the curator of the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island, wrote in Air & Space magazine that, upon being invited to have a last look at the archives, he surreptitiously took one document with him. That lone surviving document was a contract for 225 P-47Bs from Republic for the US Army Air Corps at a cost of $16,275,657.50 (War Department Contract #15850, dated September 13, 1940)[10] is now housed at the museum.
     
  7. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Takao, just saw your post. I'll give it careful consideration, as with the rest of documents available in the same site.
     
  8. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    I agree with asking, but as a graphics artist who deals with copyright and trademark laws all the time, I think you're in the clear for WWII era aircraft.
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Just so long as it is not any thing from Northrop-Grumman...
     
  10. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Why, are they especially aggressive?
     
  11. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    From all places, the Free Republic. Long, out of date but worth reading.

    Biak, I understand what you wrote, and I do intend to approach them but I have a bad feeling about this if this transcription of the B. Licenseing Agreement is current.

    $1000 up front plus 4% on sales (minimum $1000)??? Plus:

    b. Insurance Requirements. Licensee will carry, and maintain
    throughout the term of this Agreement, commercial general liability
    insurance with available limits of not less than two million dollars
    ($2,000,000) per occurrence for economic loss, personal injury,
    bodily injury, including death, and damage to property.

    This is completely nuts, I don't see many kit makers going through this madness. How many people have been sucked into a 1:72 KC-135 engine for the past 10 years?
     
  12. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Northrop-Grumman can be, at least in the area of PC games.

    They went after Oleg Maddox & his company(creators of the IL-2 Sturmovik series) and their publisher Ubisoft. It was a big bruhaha back in the mid-2000s(2004-2006 IIRC). Ended up with Ubisoft settling out of court. But when Ubisoft did their "Silent Hunter 4 - Wolves of the Pacific", there were no Grumman aircraft and no ships that were built by Newport News Shipbuilding(then owned by Northrop-Grumman, but spun off in, I believe 2011). So we have a Pacific submarine game, but with no Grumman aircraft - Brewster Buffaloes were all the rage - even in 1945...And the main US aircraft carrier was the USS Wasp(CV-7). Not game-breaking, just absolutely asinine.

    Such are the sue-happy days we live in.
     
  13. green slime

    green slime Member

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    How many toddlers have sucked small pieces of plastic into their throats?
     
  14. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    I wasn't aware of that, thank you. The only thing I can say is that surely my income from my models running on a couple of hundreds at a time will certainly be a lot less than that generated by the names you mentioned, so I'll be an insignificant target in comparison, very small fry.

    Have you seen that link I posted with that old version of the Boeing License Agreement? It is preposterous for my dimension, but if you read carefully at some point you'll see:

    And above that on the looooong airplane list you can find:

    See the difference? Am I whistling in the dark or does it look like that names without any asterisk are in the clear?


    Certainly a lot less than Legos, and in any case this Fujimi box I have beside right now me carries this visible warning saying "Not for children under 6", so the manufacturer is in any case safe.
     
  15. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper Patron  

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    Aww, who'd have thunk GS is so concerned aboot child safety-
    Kids are a problem. The world wants to have fun, but those damn kids...

    "She was pegged in the head with a lawn dart,
    her dad didn't see her,
    that's the worst part,
    so now they are off the shelves at the kmart..."
    - some song lyric
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4UnpbWM-vQ
     

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