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Posted (edited)

The 3D print world is a rather large grey area currently in regards to this sort of thing. Laws that allow/restrict the process are behind the pace of the technology that it is trying to control. This will be a struggle for many years to come.

Edited by Wes Janson

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My minimal understanding of copyright law is that they ARE copyright voilations. However, it is the responsibility of the copyright holder to hunt down the violators and serve them with Cease and Desist letters, not the duty of the court. The court will hear lawsuits stemming from copyright infringment, but the injured party has to initiate the lawsuit.

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1 minute ago, Caimheul1313 said:

My minimal understanding of copyright law is that they ARE copyright voilations. However, it is the responsibility of the copyright holder to hunt down the violators and serve them with Cease and Desist letters, not the duty of the court. The court will hear lawsuits stemming from copyright infringment, but the injured party has to initiate the lawsuit.

I suppose it’s fortunate for the copyright holders that they’re routinely shilling on these forums then. 🙄

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Derrault said:

I suppose it’s fortunate for the copyright holders that they’re routinely shilling on these forums then. 🙄

Yeah that always struck me as silly... I guess they aren't really viewed as enough of an infringement/inconvenience/annoyance to warrant the attention of the legal team. Kind of like how (if I recall correctly) Space Rocks was able to stay in business making 3D rubble including debris in the obvious shape of X-wing/Armada ships, but around the time they released a X-wing scale Nebulon B frigate the C&D went out. The upgrade parts like heads I think are a bit trickier following some of the rulings from prior lawsuits, but full miniatures are probably a bit far? 

Again, I am absolutely NOT a copyright or any other kind of lawyer, I'm just going off of a mixture of second hand information and stuff I researched while bored and the GW VS Chapterhouse studios lawsuit was going on (not to mention the Battletech lawsuit from last year).

Edited by Caimheul1313

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Some of them are smart in that they name their models with rather generic names. The real question is, are those images trademarked or copy righted. Also, is it worth it for Disney to pay lawyers to send out the C&Ds.

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Some of them are more flagrant than others. Space Rocks drew heat because they were literally using molds of X-wing epic ships and just carving them up to make debris.

If Skullforge releases a 'sand scavenger' model that just happens to resemble a Jawa then it's probably less of a big deal to the legal team.

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IIRC the reason Space Rocks got nailed was because they called the Nebulon-B, a Nebulon-B.  Especially for characters, it's a difficult legal battle to prove that Rebel Royalty pose 1 is really Princess Leia and not a Flash Gordon character, even though the resemblance is obvious.

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23 minutes ago, Mep said:

Some of them are smart in that they name their models with rather generic names. The real question is, are those images trademarked or copy righted. Also, is it worth it for Disney to pay lawyers to send out the C&Ds.

To be fair, a company like Disney just has lawyers permanently on staff. So it's more of is it more worthwhile to Disney for the staff lawyers to send a C&D to this borderline company or some other definitely infringing company. Slow weeks make it more likely for the small fish to get served.

3 minutes ago, GunNut said:

IIRC the reason Space Rocks got nailed was because they called the Nebulon-B, a Nebulon-B.  Especially for characters, it's a difficult legal battle to prove that Rebel Royalty pose 1 is really Princess Leia and not a Flash Gordon character, even though the resemblance is obvious.

This only matters if the small company has enough money/guts to actually contest the C&D.

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3 hours ago, Mep said:

Some of them are smart in that they name their models with rather generic names. The real question is, are those images trademarked or copy righted. Also, is it worth it for Disney to pay lawyers to send out the C&Ds.

Disney is a big enough company to have layers on retainer or in house legal teams, so sending out C&Ds would just be another Tuesday.

Sometimes it’s not worth pursuing because of possible backlash in bad press etc. Something like actually happened to a YouTube’er. It can hurt sales if you piss off the fan base. Bottom line is, will it help their bottom line by taking action, or will it cause bad press and hurt their bottom line elsewhere.

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Disney is the literal INVENTOR of copyright! 

Disney is infamous for their harsh and brutal lawsuits (just google). You don't want to mess with this company.

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Posted (edited)
45 minutes ago, Rogue Three said:

I have no qualms with third party miniature creators. Their models are quite expensive in any case, so they are hardly a threat to FFG. 

Besides the theft of intellectual property, you mean? 🤔

Edited by Sharkbelly

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14 minutes ago, Sharkbelly said:

Besides the theft of intellectual property, you mean? 🤔

i'm more for consumer's choice mate.

They're filling a void in the market: if somebody wants a mini thrawn that uses veer's cards, what's the harm done?

In order to use these third party miniatures, you stil l need to buy FFG's products, so i don't see where the problem is. 

No harm, no foul.

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Disney is known for being absolutely fascist in protecting their "intellectual property" so it's only a matter of time before the more obvious offenders get targeted. 

That said, if the modeler is taking the time to sculpt a mini themselves that just happens to look like a SW character, especially one that does not have an official release, it's hardly theft.  The "Insurgent Field Commander," "Prodigal Son Ace," or "Grunge troopers" I've bought have not prevented me from buying any FFG products, and they're not different than someone making a painting of vaguely SW characters and selling it. 

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2 hours ago, Sharkbelly said:

Besides the theft of intellectual property, you mean? 🤔

See, the thing there is - 1. Whether it actually is "theft of intellectual property" even by the current definition is extremely arguable. Copyright covers specific expressions of a concept and while people *assume* that extends to *all possible* expressions of a concept that's not actually true, it's just the perception that's been created by corporate bullying over the years. Which leads us to; 2. Copyright "law" is a shambles and, functionally, a wild west in which the only *actual* law is "who has the most money for lawyers". Often when small producers stand up to big corporations they win handily, though sadly it often costs them their business anyway due to the aforementioned money thing. For instance, Lucasfilm likely don't have any rights to control the use of imagery from the OT any more at all in the UK, since they tried to sue a guy making Stormtrooper armour for cosplayers(Lucasfilm v Ainsworth) and the court ruled that as the ST design was used as the basis for mass-produced products, it constitutes an "industrial prop" and so falls under Design Rights, which last only 15 years. Now they could come back and try to make the argument that ruling should only apply specifically to full-size costumes, but the legal logic that was established there holds for basically everything, since Lucasfilm gleefully use their designs to make mass-produced everything; even Legion would qualify. Meaning most PT and OT content wouldn't even qualify for Copyright per se in the UK.

There's also 3. Not everyone believes that the present state of Intellectual Property law - a state crafted almost entirely by lobbying by large corporations, Disney at their forefront, rather than by the needs or desires of actual artists - is fair, or just, or that breaching it constitutes "theft". Opinions on the matter are far too varied and complex to simplify things to the degree proponents of the status quo often do.

In the end though, the reality is that the reasons why third party stuff are broadly tolerated by big companies are simple; they almost always add more value than they "cost" the company, and the simple fact is they don't even qualify as small fry in terms of relative revenue. In terms of adding value, they can provide alternatives for people who dislike a key official model in an army they otherwise find appealing, they can provide aftermarket parts to allow people to individualise their armies, they can fill gaps in a miniature range that it's simply not profitable enough for the company themselves to bother with, and in so doing encourage people to stay invested in the system and thus subject to the company's marketing for new releases of their own product. In terms of their size - the simple reality is that the number of people even aware third party models exist is tiny compared to the overall playerbase, and the number buying them smaller still, so providing they keep away from trademarked names and aren't selling actual recasts, it's in nobody's interest to kick up a fuss, in the same way that it's not worth Disney's while to trawl Deviantart to visit legal fury upon some chump doing an occasional commission piece of Darth Vader.

 

I do wonder though - why do some people seem to care about this at all? Disney aren't your pal, our relationship with them is defined entirely in terms of them offering product and us buying it, beyond that transaction neither of us owes the other anything. If you don't care for third party models then don't use them, or heck, be really puritan and refuse to even play against them, that's your choice, but this bizarre need some people have to tattle to Corporate Daddy just baffles me. At that point you're basically that kid who ran to Teacher to tell on someone for eating chocolate in the hall or passing notes in class - nobody's hurting anybody, and it only becomes disruptive when you start to make a big deal about it.

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They went after the people making scale nebulon B frigates for Xwing. It could be argued that it wasn't just resemblance, that it was an exact model ripped right from the movie. 

I suspect a C&D will come right before any similar models might be released in legion. Or they might just wait until their lawyers tell them they have a good case. 

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I did a little research on this (you can, too just ask brother Google). The nuts and bolts of the issue comes down to reproducing the exact image. If a sculptor creates his own version of princess cinnamon bun hair, its a grey enough area. But if its the exact same image its more cut and dry.

 

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Posted (edited)

Not a lawyer, some of the details below could be wrong or over-generalizations:

It can depend on a lot of things. Like what country they do business out of. There are some places where characters can't be owned. So in those countries, pirating copies of someone else's Spider Man movie is illegal, but putting a guy in a red suit in front of a camera and selling your own movie, called 'Spiderman', is not. You won't be able to market your movie in the US or other lucrative places though.

If Steve is based in America and he's making 3D printed "Princess Layla" figures for sale, and Disney wants to come down like a ton of bricks on him, they can stop Steve. But there's potentially dozens or hundreds of Steves, and they have to prioritize. Even Disney has finite resources. They have to file against at least some of the Steves. If they don't, then in the future, the fact that they didn't bother to defend their IP can actually be used at some future time to prove that it's NOT their exclusive IP. Hence more egregious examples will get shut down, even if it costs Disney more effort than it's worth in the short term. They also have to weigh intangible sentiment. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, a lot of these 3D printers are hands down the biggest fans who love the IP the most. If you go around smacking down your biggest fans, you might be killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

This is all CBA stuff, nothing about a black and white morality. I don't really have any moral sympathy for Disney for someone "stealing" their "property". Disney is too hypocritical on this specific issue for me to sympathize about that. So while I would not make and sell ripoffs of Disney's stuff (and have even reported pirated stuff to Disney in the past) I don't have any moral outrage or sense that an injustice has occurred when I see these 3D printings. But if I saw, say, an obscene Mickey Mouse t-shirt being sold, that's something I'm going to report. I don't want a child to see that and ask their parents awkward questions, and neither would Walt. Or if someone was selling Jedi Knight birthday parties and they are undermining that by showing up in chintzy costume and not staying in character, I'd report that cause I know they're doing real damage to the value of the IP, and to someone's childhood, by undermining those kids impressions of it.  Whereas people who do a GOOD job doing unlicensed character birthday parties, and DO uphold the public image of the character, are generally left alone by IP holders because they know they are actually good for the brand and will help sell more merch in the long run.

Someone selling garage kits, frankly, isn't hurting anyone. They can't be enough of competition to cost Disney any real money. They don't run a big enough operation that Disney is getting cheated out of a lucrative licensing fee. These are mostly just the very biggest of fans, who still have dayjobs and are doing something as a labor of love. Someone who cuts a mold of your exact sculpt and publicly sells the castings HAS to be shut down though. If you let something like that slide, you can lose legal control of your IP.

Edited by TauntaunScout

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10 hours ago, JediPartisan said:

Disney is a big enough company to have layers on retainer or in house legal teams, so sending out C&Ds would just be another Tuesday.

Yep, and they still have to pay them for showing up on a Tuesday. Their is so much fandom surrounding Disney products and properties that they simply don't have that many lawyers to shift through it all.

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3 hours ago, Mep said:

Yep, and they still have to pay them for showing up on a Tuesday. Their is so much fandom surrounding Disney products and properties that they simply don't have that many lawyers to shift through it all.

Yup. Disney World Resort (just a piece if Disney) gets sued once an hour. Or did last time I checked. Their legal staff have lots to do. The 3rd party Disney merch is an issue but they still have to prioritize resources. 

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And stuff that is hurting Disney's family friendly image (characters with crude phrases or in crass poses) are probably higher on their list than alternate miniatures for a game which still encouraging purchasing the actual expansion to use the model, especially with as blurry as the "fan art" line can be. 

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Sharkbelly said:

Besides the theft of intellectual property, you mean? 🤔

Copyright violations are just that, not theft.

Same as jaywalking isn't driving under the influence and embezzlement isn't treason.

How does it harm FFG if I order a third-party Han in Hoth costume, using the cards and tokens from the FFG Han I purchased? 

Or if I order a conversion kit from shapeways that allows me to better pose the FFG AT-ST, and have a crewman peeking out from the top hatch?

IMO it only adds to the visual appeal of the game - even driving sales from onlookers - and as such FFG/Disney would do well to look the other way while it's still in a grey area.

 

Now if someone was 3d-scanning or making molds off of FFG miniatures, selling those alongside home-printed cards and tokens, that would be another matter entirely. 

Edited by aniron

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4 hours ago, aniron said:

Now if someone was 3d-scanning or making molds off of FFG miniatures, selling those alongside home-printed cards and tokens, that would be another matter entirely. 

Why would that be different?

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1 hour ago, Sharkbelly said:

Why would that be different?

Because it’s keeping you from buying from FFG. 

Fun Fact: I once accidentally bought a pile of Russian counterfeit Ice Warriors of Valhalla for 40k, on eBay. They were so good, the only way I could tell was because they cast a 2 part model as 1 piece. GW didn’t make them anymore and it somehow seemed right that my IWoV should be from Russia. So I just kept and painted them.  

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