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Copyright Worries.


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#1 Mark Crowel

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 01:04 PM

I read that the automakers are bearing down on anyone who makes and sells likenesses of their vehicles. They've gone beyond stepping on the model car companies. Now they're going after T-shirt printers, and artists who do paintings of cars.

I want to compose, and publish for sale, a book of photographs of my homemade model cars. These cars are replicas. Will I have to have permission from those who own the copyrights to the real cars?
The book would simply be a compilation of photos of my own collection; a "coffee table" book.

I realize this is a legal question. I've looked at US Copyright law on the government's website, but can't find anything that directly addresses my question.

#2 CadillacPat

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 01:14 PM

Forget about it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don't give it a second thought

CadillacPat

#3 Jantrix

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 01:14 PM

A call to a publisher might be the way to go.

#4 LAone

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 01:18 PM

To be honest with you I don't see why there would be a problem with that. A: they are photos of model kits that already have paid their dues to the auto manufactures to even be able to mass produce that kit. And B: they at your photos of your build, not photos taken from other sources. In fact you could copy right your photos.

Edited by LAone, 04 May 2012 - 01:18 PM.


#5 sjordan

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 02:27 PM

You are right to be concerned, though I think there would be few problems with showing builds that have already been cleared by the kit manufacturers. Otherwise, there would be no magazines like MCM. But Jantrix is correct about consulting with a publisher. (You're not going to pay for the printing yourself, are you? That would be insane.) And I wouldn't go crazy with preparing a book without showing a prospectus to a publisher so they can see where you're going.

And don't listen to anyone's "logical" guess unless it's based on firsthand experience. Copyright and trademark laws are very complicated, as I have learned from more than 3 decades as an ad agency professional.

Next, I can't tell what you mean about "homemade" cars. Can you show some pictures of what you're talking about?

Edited by sjordan, 04 May 2012 - 02:50 PM.


#6 Art Anderson

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 02:52 PM

Every year, being an employee of Purdue University, I get a statement of copyright "rules". I'm not a lawyer, but if you publish pics of model cars you've built yourself, the only copyright issues you will have are those in relation to YOUR photographs, nothing more. The model cars themselves are covered under copyright law, as are nearly all automobile designs. Logo's and :"model names" are covered under trademark and "trade dress" statutes, but as long as you do not duplicate any of those directly (A Chevy"bowtie" is a Chevy "bowtie"), but simply refer to them in captions in your writings, you should not be in any trouble at all. You might consider adding the statement at the end of the book (or in the foreleaf) to the effect saying "XXXXXXXX" is a registered trademark of ":XXXXXXXX" Corporation. Again in this, any publisher should be able to guide you.

If you look at any printed publication, real car or model car, you'll likely not find any reference to the above.

Art

#7 sjordan

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 03:01 PM

The people who get into trouble are those who issue original products, such as T-shirts and decals, that use manufacturer logos without the approval of the trademark holder and are made for commercial profit using those materials. This infringes on corporate contracts with licensees who paid good money for the privilege. There was a small decal maker on this forum who got a "cease and desist" notice from Kenworth for selling decals with the Kenworth logo for model trucks. He had to destroy his existing inventory and not issue any more without paying for it.

Edited by sjordan, 04 May 2012 - 03:05 PM.


#8 tbusch

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 03:13 PM

One of the Indy Car decal makers got this
http://indycarmodeli...play&thread=591

He was was only doing one decal at a time on a ALPS printer so nothing to destroy

#9 charlie8575

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 04:49 PM

Art, based on my training and study into the area, is right. I would simply add the suggested disclaimer, or a variant thereof to cover yourself, as he suggested.

Also, you have to ask how big a problem it really is. There will always be companies like CART and PACCAR (owner of Kenworth,) that will go after every little thing because they lost fifty cents (and just spent $500 proving the point,) but if you're a small item like that, the chances of actually being bothered are very small.

The publisher will be able to negotiate any legal tangles, though, as was also pointed out. Normally, I'm an advocate of self-publishing, but given how lawyers have managed to ruin society, I think letting a regular printing house handle this would be beneficial.

Charlie Larkin

#10 Mark Crowel

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 07:49 PM

I am grateful for the many responses. By homemade model cars, I mean scratchbuilt, specifically, my cardboard model cars.

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#11 Mark Crowel

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 08:04 PM

Posted Image

Posted Image

#12 CadillacPat

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 09:35 PM

I am grateful for the many responses. By homemade model cars, I mean scratchbuilt, specifically, my cardboard model cars.

Posted Image

Posted Image

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Mark that really clears things up,
As I said, Forget About It,
I would not give a second thought to someone taking you to court over your cardboard cars.

CadillacPat

#13 Mark Crowel

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 09:43 AM

That makes me feel better. Thank you.

#14 charlie8575

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 07:10 AM

Mark that really clears things up,
As I said, Forget About It,
I would not give a second thought to someone taking you to court over your cardboard cars.

CadillacPat


I agree. Your models are more "suggestive" of a car, than direct replicas, because of the limitations of your modeling medium. As a result, particularly with Studebaker and other extinct makes that didn't get sucked into another company, you have very little, if anything to worry about.

Charlie Larkin

#15 Von Don Koolkat

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 12:06 PM

Trademarks are a much higher level of legal 'trouble' than copyright. Asking permission is always the proper way to go. Trademark and copyright law can be very complicated and not very clear cut. Look up 'fair use' on Google and you'll learn a lot, even if it is rather vague.

#16 Dr. Cranky

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 12:46 PM

I like your cardboard cars.

#17 Harry P.

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 12:51 PM

I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding is that if you create a model of a particular subject for your own amusement (that is, not to sell for a profit)... you don't owe anyone anything. Again, I'm not a lawyer, but I would be shocked if there was any way you could possibly be liable for any sort of licensing fees for your paper models. That would be absurd.

#18 Art Anderson

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 01:45 PM

This is an issue that touches on just about every aspect of our lives frankly. It runs a very huge gamut: Music, literature, art, film/TV, all of it. Automobiles of course, fall into the category of "art" in the sense that a stylist (arguably artists in their own right) has been paid to come up with an eyecatching design for his/her employer which will catch the eye (yes, even the hearts) of potential car buyers. Now, absent any sort of legal protection for such design work--why would anyone bother to come up with any new design for a car (or any other product)? That's a very serious question frankly.

Some examples: In 1914, William Crapo Durant (then the president of Chevrolet--BEFORE Chevrolet bought up a struggling General Motors) was visiting France, and in a hotel room, was taken by a printed pattern in the wallpaper--that is where the legendary Chevrolet "Bowtie" emblem came from. Now, in 1914, there was no such thing as an international copyright convention (a broad treaty between a large group of countries in which the various nations agree to honor the copyright laws of one another); so Durant had pretty much free reign to take that bit of inspiration back to Flint Michigan, and use that "Bowtie" shape with the word "Chevrolet" printed on it. Even the name "Chrevrolet" is something Durant's upstart car manufacturing company had ownership of: The first Chevrolet was designed for Durant and his partners for the then-new Little Motor Company (Little being the name of the original founder, who partnered up with Durant in 1912) by the then very famous race car designer and driver, Louis Chevrolet. By being employed by Durant and Little, Louis Chevrolet allowed Little Motors to use his name on the new car, in return for a very nice salary and having his famous name appear in dealerships all over the US (Never mind that Louis Chevrolet, in a fit of pique, threw his Chevrolet stock certificates in Durant's face, resigned and stormed out of the place a couple of years later--that's historical fact). Of course, "Chevrolet", "Chevy" and the various popular slang names for the Chevrolet automobile have been trademarked over the years as well. But the bottom line today is: Under copyright laws and international treaties, W. C. Durant would not have been nearly so able to have lifted a certain "bowtie" shape from the decor in that hotel room and adopt it as the shape of the badge for his company's car without a fight from somebody.

Sometimes, it's the shape of some design characteristic of a car that becomes meaningful. Packard, very early on in their history, adopted a radiator shell shape looking much like a stylized "ox yoke". Buick, in the late-'teens/early 20's adopted the very same shape, only to run into legal opposition from Packard--and a short court case evolved. The bottom line was, Buick was allowed to modify their radiator shape so that while it may have had some resemblance, no longer was a direct copy of Packard's most readily visible identifier. Studebaker, in the middle 1950's, entered into an agreement with Daimler-Benz to be the US importer of Mercedes Benz cars. Soon, Studebaker adopted a grille design for their new 1956 Hawk that closely looked just like the Mercedes grille design, complete with a badge that looked very similar to the Mercedes 3-pointed star. Daimler Benz objected, and Studebaker was forced to change that badge very quickly, and did so. Other examples of this include the 7-slot grille that so identifies Jeep vehicles--AMT General had to come to an agreement with Chrysler Jeep when they brought out the H1 & H2 Hummers.

Trademarked names are also very important, and can be vulnerable: In the 1930's, General Motors created a consumer appliance division around their own brand of refrigerators, Frigidaire. Now, how many of us to this day refer to that icebox in the kitchen as the "Fridge"? Our parents and grandparents sure did in their day. While companies such as Hotpoint, Coldspot, Servel, Whirlpool, Crosley, General Electric, and Westinghouse all made refrigerators, it became very common for people to refer to their's as the frigidaire or "The Fridge", regardless of brand. In Southern California, an enterprising appliance dealer began advertising "Frigid Air" as a cover name for the lines of refrigerators he was selling. GM of course, sued to protect their rights to the trademarked, copyrighted name "Frigidaire", and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, where in a split decision, the Justices ruled that Frigidaire was indeed the property of GM. However, the court also ruled that in order for GM (or any other trademark or copyright holder) had a duty to protect their rights, their ownership against all unauthorized users, or face losing all rights period to that trademark or copyright. This principle was reinforced in the 1980's in the case of counterfeit auto parts (notably replacement sheet metal then being made overseas and insisted on by auto insurance companies seeking to lower the cost of crash repairs). Again, SCOTUS ruled in favor of the owners of the original designs, and reaffirmed that those companies had a responsibility to protect those copyrights.

Even the masthead of the model magazine which owns this website is copyrighted, and I am sure that Gregg, and Golden Bell Press would take issue with anyone who was to copy either the trade name or the style of the logo without prior authorization.

"Protect it or lose it" is the operative term here. And that means protecting such intellectual property against all unauthorized users, period.

Art

#19 Art Anderson

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 02:02 PM

I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding is that if you create a model of a particular subject for your own amusement (that is, not to sell for a profit)... you don't owe anyone anything. Again, I'm not a lawyer, but I would be shocked if there was any way you could possibly be liable for any sort of licensing fees for your paper models. That would be absurd.


Harry,

From the annual notice I get from the University, that is what is called "fair use", as I read it, making a "copy" if you will, for your own use, but not for sale to others.

Art

#20 Mark Crowel

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 08:09 PM

I like your cardboard cars.

Thank you, Dr. Cranky!

Hello Again,

US Copyright Law is available for viewing online, so I read the sections pertaining to derivative works and fair use. It looks like I would be safe even if I put my models in kit form and sold them. They are derivative works, based on the designs of real cars, yet different enough to have identities of their own. Secondly, they are interpretations of the real cars' designs, instead of copies, and thus serve a purpose by expressing my impressions of those designs, so my models represent fair use.

I do not use emblems or logos on my models, so as not to raise trademark issues.

I greatly appreciate everyone's interest and suggestions regarding this matter. I am not a lawyer, but based on my understading of what I read, I believe I can proceed with a book or kits of my models with a clear conscience. Thank you, all.