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ron_24ron_24 Member Posts: 7
Since the new pricing structure has been made known, there has been much discussion amongst the hobbyist (free users) as to how they can make the most of their 100M storage limit. It is also possible to exceed this limit by making your documents "public". My query is, if a hobbyist models up from a published 2D plan, and makes the model public, are they contravening the copyright of the original 2D plan.


  • kevin_quigleykevin_quigley Member Posts: 306 ✭✭✭
    No. They are not. It would be like taking a photo of a Ferrari. In fact you would own the copyright on the model itself. What would contravene copyright or other design rights would be if you then sold on a replica of the object and tried to pass it off as either an original XYZ object or a replica of XYZ object.
  • andrew_troupandrew_troup Member, Mentor Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭✭
    I think the "photo of a Ferrari" analogy is so far adrift as to be inapplicable.  
    A photo of a Ferrari is less informative than walking past it or running a tape measure over it (which are both legal), let alone photographing the plans of it (which is emphatically not)

    A live solid model is MORE informative than 2D plans, not less.
    So I don't think that defence would wash, personally.
  • kevin_quigleykevin_quigley Member Posts: 306 ✭✭✭
    sorry but it is very applicable. Copyright relates to the article produced. So the drawings would be copyright. For the 3D model to infringe it would have to be an exact copy of the model (at a topology level). If I make a 3D digital model of a Ferrari from 2D images or drawings I own the model rights, not Ferrari. It would only be an infringement if I took their own data and duplicated it.

    Now if I built a car from my data and sold it on as a Ferrari replica I might get a lawyers letter, but even then, it is a grey area....ultimately it cones down to the original design owner deciding if it is worth it to go to court. For a one off, no. If I was setting up to make 100s of cars, most definately!

    unfortunately this is something I know a bit about given that some of the industries we work in are rife with copiers.

    rule of thumb. Copyright relates to verbatim copies (physical or digital), Patents relate to functionality of a design, registered designs or design patents in the USA relate to the appearance of a product. As the originator you automatically have copyright rights. But you need to apply for patents and registered designs.

  • traveler_hauptmantraveler_hauptman Member, OS Professional, Mentor, Developers Posts: 419 PRO
    @michał_1 Had a similar question about creative commons. @kevin_quigley Summarized it nicely. I'll add that one is under no obligation to provide any license (such as a creative commons one) for their public documents.

    Others will be able to make a copy of your work but technically you still own the rights.

    In the US, Trade Secrets are another legal way to protect your work. Better than patents for small businesses without legal departments in my opinion. However, to maintain a trade secret in a legally defensible manner you have to keep it secret. So a public onshape document would invalidate any ability to use that route to protect your IP.

  • andrew_troupandrew_troup Member, Mentor Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2015
    Well I'm not sure where you hail from, @kevin_quigley, (and you did not ask that question of the OP, which is really what matters) but at least in the US, copyright law seems, on the face of it, to take a rather different stance from yours on this matter:

    Derivative works, according to the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, Section 101, are defined as follows:

    "A 'derivative work' is a work based upon one or more pre-existing works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted

    And the important question, in relation to the OP's:

      Who may create such a derivative work? See U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, Section 106:

    "(T)he owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following: (...) (2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work".

    I personally don't think the OP is asking the most important question in relation to the situation he describes.

    I would argue that, regardless of whether a particular subclause of IP law in a particular jurisdiction can be interpreted as permitting a person to purchase 2D plans and then publish them in 3D form without the consent of the designer, that to do so would be to deny the designer a basic human right to earn an honest living, and would betray an important trust relationship, on which society should be able to rely.
  • kevin_quigleykevin_quigley Member Posts: 306 ✭✭✭
    I don't really want to get into a discussion on IP interpretation as that would require a book!. I'm in the UK but through my work with a wide range of customers across many industries (primarily medical, housewares, industrial and various consumer product) we have to deal with IP in all the major markets including USA, EU, japan, Australia and various African and South American countries. So what I am stating here is based a practical knowledge as a designer and from a manufacturers point of view, not a lawyers.

    Copyright is actually a poor way to protect a 3D manufactured object. For 2D works (images, written word, music or digital works) it is the defacto protection format in that it is free and very easy to protect and prove duplication (words, music, software code etc). 3D works are open to much more interpretation. For a purely aesthetic protection, the route to take is a design patent (in USA) or a registered design (most other territories). This covers the visual uniqueness of a product and is low cost. This covers probably 90% of the IP we get involved in. Most of my customers just do these as a matter of course because it is cheap and provides an initial layer of protection.

    For functional protection, the utility patent ( in USA) or patent everywhere else is the standard protection. But this only covers the functional elements that are unique. Different territories have different levels of due diligence in the route to getting full granted patent status. It has to be said that Canada and USA are two areas where it is relatively simple to get to granted status. The EU patent tends to be a little more rigorous in what it allows and does not allow...again...all this is in my experience.

    But the one thing that applies across all this is that no matter if you have copyright, registered design or patents, the IP is only as strong as your ability to fight the cases through the courts. And that does not come cheap.

    The media is often full of big name design patent disputes...think Apple vs Samsung as an example fighting over the shape of a mobile phone. Here in the UK there was a recent case between a kid's luggage company and another who had allegedly copied the design. they lost. Similarly there was that recent nonsense about Katy Perry and Left Shark that someone had copied and put up for sale on Shapeways.

    It simply comes down to the commercialisation of the copy. If you set out to copy a product and sell the copy you can expect some comeback if you are copying a well known item. If you are a maker, recreating an object for your own use then nobody would bother. It is the ability to profit and tangibly lead to devaluing of a brand or loss of sales that results in action.

    Creating a 3D model from existing 2D plans comes into that. Even if you sold the 3D data on you are safe. Look at Turbosquid or any number of online model resources such as (what was) Google Warehouse. Every single item there is a "copy". Or rather, it is not a copy, it is an interpretation of a form.

    Some years ago we created content for the then Google Warehouse for a customer. It was a sizable project. A year or so later we found that a competitor had launched some product as copies in some territories that we had no registered design status. At the same time they had set up an online store using Google Warehouse. We could do nothing about the actual product. But what we did do was issue a take down notice via Google as the idiots had simply gone and taken our digital files and duplicated them. So it was very easy for us to prove this was a direct copy of the digital content...helped by the fact that we had hidden some extra geometry inside the part! But we did this only because it was the only way to try to dent their activities. A month later they simply uploaded new content they had modelled themselves. Nothing we could do.

    So, lawyers will always tell you to patent this, protect that, but the reality on the ground is most of the time patents are a waste of time for SMEs and individuals. Just because you have a patent or registered design does not mean you won't be copied. I am sure we are like most design companies here. Most projects start with a trawl through patent databases to see what competitors actually have patents on. Then we try to understand that patent and work around it. Alternatively, if something works on a competitors product that they haven't protected, copy it. Or if they have IP that is now expired copy that. Generally it is a minefield if you tend to work in the more technical high volume high value industries like medical.

    Because it all comes down to money. If a product market is worth £50k a year total, patents and IP protection is pointless. If the market is worth £1b a year then be very careful.

  • kevin_quigleykevin_quigley Member Posts: 306 ✭✭✭
    @andrew_troup that last point about the rights of the designer....Therein we disagree.

    I was involved in buying photography for a while and we would employ a photographer to shoot for a day or two then use the images for ongoing work. Back then, it was standard practise for us to have to pay the photographer for every single time we used that image, regardless of the fact that we had paid for the original shoot! Things are different now and that industry has changed and now we have all rights assigned to us.

    similarly for design. We are a "consulting" design company. We are employed by customers to design product that they then make and sell. All rights to our design work is assigned to the customer once they pay the agreed fees. In most cases we cannot even show the work we have completed as 'ours'. 

    So when I hear designers moaning that they have rights to a particular product or that they designed it I tend to choke on my coffee. Design is but one small part of the process in getting a product to market, a critical part yes, but in isolation it results in nothing more than digital data. If I was a designer maker specialising in low volume furniture say, that is different, but that is more craft than design in my view, and often there is no digital data there beyond a few early concept models.

    So if someone wants to model up a design and try to sell on the model that's fine in my view. The original designer was presumably paid for the original work and if the company making the product have no issues then what is the problem?

  • andrew_troupandrew_troup Member, Mentor Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2015
    I don't think your comments are applicable to the OP's actual question, but perhaps it's drawn from an environment you are not familiar with.

    Hobbyists and model engineers have been scratching a living for the best part of a century, by coming up with drawings (2D) of engines, machine tools, and various other non-commercially viable, often idiosyncratic items they've designed at home, in their own time (and usually prototyped and often written up), for other hobbyists to build as one-offs.

    Often the only thing they are selling is the drawings (plans), and traditionally they rely on a combination of copyright of the drawings, and the honour system. There are generally no companies involved, and there is a strong element of trust, because there is little to prevent those plans being on-sold.

    That trust has become much more prone to break-down in recent years, for obvious reasons to do with technology, and less obvious ones to do with attitudes.

    If I'm misinterpreting the OP's context, I hope he will correct me. Nevertheless, I think what I have laid out is a live issue, in many hobbyist situations.
  • kevin_quigleykevin_quigley Member Posts: 306 ✭✭✭
    @andrew_troup  Fair point. No it is not something I know much about (selling plans for profit). So the question is then, if that is the 'market' why would the originator not simply use a tool like Onshape to create data in the first place, or form a collaboration with another like minded person to create a product both can benefit from?

  • james_mcpherson11762james_mcpherson11762 Member Posts: 26 ✭✭
    edited August 2015
    @andrew_troup It's clear that while not technically true @kevin_quigley is on a completely different planet when discussing this matter. Is like two ships sailing by in the fog.

    My opinion is that beyond the legal aspects, is that ethically, if you purchase plans for something, then you should not create a public Onshape document of the plans. The design is not yours to share! There isn't any argument here from a "the right thing to do" perspective.

  • andrew_troupandrew_troup Member, Mentor Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭✭
    I think, to be fair to @kevin_quigley 
    That he did "heave-to and send a dinghy across" with his last post, in response to hearing a fog horn.

    I do think the culture of attentive and interactive discussion on this particular forum is exemplary, particularly by the standards of the www...

    as for "why would the originator not simply use a tool like Onshape ...."

    I'm not sure that this is a technology issue. I'm not inclined to blame the victim (the originator of the plans) just because they choose a particular (and hitherto entirely valid and workable) communication channel. It seems to me it's up to the recipient to decide whether or not to play by the rules appropriate to that channel ... and if the recipient enters into a contract, I would expect them to have decided that question in the affirmative.
  • ron_24ron_24 Member Posts: 7

    As posted, my original question was regarding publicly posting a 3d model based 100% on a published set of 2D plans. Your opinion unequivocally is, that would be the wrong thing to do.

    Would that also hold for "Derived designs", where the modeller has modified an existing design (maybe just changed the scale or replaced castings with fabricated items, maybe they have incorporated far more radical modifications).

    At some point there will be more of the modellers new design in the item than the original designers.

    The question as to how modified it would required to be, for it to be ethically safe to post, is rather less clear cut.
  • james_mcpherson11762james_mcpherson11762 Member Posts: 26 ✭✭
    @ron_24 You are right, at some point a modified work would "break through" and be your own. It's really hard to draw that line as it is completely case specific. This is why (unfortunately) we have patent courts. 

    For me, and just for me, I think I'd base my decision on whether anything unique still existed from the original plan. Then, I'd just have to put myself in the original designers shoes and say: "If these were my plans, would I feel cheated if I saw this design for free online".

  • andrew_troupandrew_troup Member, Mentor Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭✭

    It is an interesting and difficult question.
    Perhaps the best way to judge this would be to contact the person who sold you the plans?
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