Interesting Copyright Violation

As interesting as this is, I don't know that this necessarily applies to us as prop makers. I feel like I need to voice my opinion in a decently long paragraphs of explanation, so tune in if you will.

When we, as fans, create our own models from scratch, by means of digital technology such as CAD , Zbrush or any other modeling program, or even by means of just building from scratch using cardboard and free handing it, we are entitled to our own legal rights as creators of our own handy work. No matter how detailed it is, our own created models will never be the exact replicas used by any big companies and/or movie producers, therefor I do believe that we aren't violating any copyright laws. Now, of course, if we were to use false advertising , claiming to be selling the original armor from the set of *insert famous movie here* then we would have issues with false claims, and other legal trouble could pursue. The only real issue I could see happening is the models being ripped from games, and then being created and mass produced. That could possibly create some sort of legal loophole that someone could use, claiming that "John Smith" stole the 3D work of So-and-so company that made this popular game, and got rich selling them for thousands of dollars.

This issue goes into a bit of a different direction, as this guy had the very first original helmet from the movies, because he did create them. Pulling casts of a helmet or re-manufacturing the helmet that is protected by copyright, such as this Stormtrooper helmet, is definitely illegal in my opinion. "...Ainesworth is the guy who manufactured the original Stormtrooper helmets for the Star Wars movies." He had the original, made copies of it, and sold it for thousands of dollars. When you take something that is as popular as Star Wars, a franchise that is worth an enormous amount of money, and you take a piece of, well technically by copyright law, "their work," then you are stealing from them in a way. Especially when you're making as much money as this guy did by selling them, you can't really expect to not see some legal trouble here. This is America, where you can sue someone for almost any reason you can think of.

In all, I don't believe we'll be having problems here at the 405th. Selling armor here in the classifieds for a fair price is one thing, but we're not selling original casts and molds of famous armor sets/pieces that we took from a movie set.
 

rundown

Sr Member
As interesting as this is, I don't know that this necessarily applies to us as prop makers. I feel like I need to voice my opinion in a decently long paragraphs of explanation, so tune in if you will.

When we, as fans, create our own models from scratch, by means of digital technology such as CAD , Zbrush or any other modeling program, or even by means of just building from scratch using cardboard and free handing it, we are entitled to our own legal rights as creators of our own handy work. No matter how detailed it is, our own created models will never be the exact replicas used by any big companies and/or movie producers, therefor I do believe that we aren't violating any copyright laws. Now, of course, if we were to use false advertising , claiming to be selling the original armor from the set of *insert famous movie here* then we would have issues with false claims, and other legal trouble could pursue. The only real issue I could see happening is the models being ripped from games, and then being created and mass produced. That could possibly create some sort of legal loophole that someone could use, claiming that "John Smith" stole the 3D work of So-and-so company that made this popular game, and got rich selling them for thousands of dollars.

This issue goes into a bit of a different direction, as this guy had the very first original helmet from the movies, because he did create them. Pulling casts of a helmet or re-manufacturing the helmet that is protected by copyright, such as this Stormtrooper helmet, is definitely illegal in my opinion. "...Ainesworth is the guy who manufactured the original Stormtrooper helmets for the Star Wars movies." He had the original, made copies of it, and sold it for thousands of dollars. When you take something that is as popular as Star Wars, a franchise that is worth an enormous amount of money, and you take a piece of, well technically by copyright law, "their work," then you are stealing from them in a way. Especially when you're making as much money as this guy did by selling them, you can't really expect to not see some legal trouble here. This is America, where you can sue someone for almost any reason you can think of.

In all, I don't believe we'll be having problems here at the 405th. Selling armor here in the classifieds for a fair price is one thing, but we're not selling original casts and molds of famous armor sets/pieces that we took from a movie set.
Well actually selling a concept from someone else is copyright infrigiment. However most people don't ask that mutch. And it's not like they mass produce.

In this case there was doubt if the stormtrooper was a industrial design or art. Wich has a diffrent copyright. Shame that guy won though. Wile He isn't the real creator.
 

CoolC

Well-Known Member
As rundown mentioned, "selling a concept from someone else is copyright infrigiment." We are in fact did violate the copyright of Microsoft. The question is will Microsoft pursue the legal route?

I'm not a lawyer and will not claim to know the ins and outs of what is legal or not legal. We make armor for our own use and most of us don't mass produce any of the armor and sell them. The likely chance of Microsoft to order "ceast and desist" on fans who want to make their own costumes is very slim. In the long run, it will only hurt Microsoft more than hurt us.

However, if one of us do mass produce and sell armor (like the one in pawn shop-sorry don't mean to bring this up) and claim our work as Microsoft licensed, I'm sure Microsoft has its lawyers all lined up. Microsoft may win only if it can proof that it looses money because we sell the costumes. Since Microsoft does not actually make a full hardened armor anywhere, the court will unlikely side with Microsoft.
 

Toacrabman

Well-Known Member
Basically we arent recasting the Weta props, or selling them for thousands of dollars, so they legally have to be okay with it.

Except for that guy that was on pawn stars. He tried to say his crappy suit was liscensed.

They could sue his non-liscensed MK VI pants right off, and the repossess them.
 

B1TMAP

Jr Member
The fact that most of us do this as fans, and as personal costumes which help promote the game's Microsoft produces you are usually in a fair use type situation. Selling copies and mouldings and casts can be more complicated and anyone who may be concerned should consult a professional legal advisor.
 

Hyokenseisou

Well-Known Member
A bit of a grey area to think about too: Could always claim ignorance if you're making casts and Mircosoft or whoever is all "Hey, we're gonna sure you cause you got a suit that looks like _______'s and it's too good" or some bs. You could always be like "idk? I made it as a fan... can't sue for that" (which they can't, technically really....) or "idk? I bought it from some guy?". Or something. (Not saying anyone SHOULD do this. But it IS a viable loop hole)
 

BenStreeper

Well-Known Member
As long as we are making the props under Microsoft's Game Content Usage Rules (which technically both applies and does not since we are only using a likeness and no actual Game Content [ by the way those game rips do violate these rules]) you are fine.

Basically it says you can do with it what you want as long as you don't reverse engineer the games, or make a profit. And since most of us have a "real" job (and i can say from experience) it's safe to say we don't make a profit. Also many of the great suits you see out there can cost thousands of dollars to make before they are molded, the molds can also cost upwards of $2000 to make an entire suit mold, and they are constantly "underbid" for sales. So it is almost impossible to do anything but break even as a fan. The article listed in the first post however is a prime example of how laws work across borders, and what you can/ can't do in different countries regarding mass production of props.

P.S.
just to give you guys an Idea my Reach Suit Reboot is already at $2,400 with no chest built yet, and only 1/2 a gauntlet mold. And although this was a commissioned suit, I have already surpassed the price I commissioned it for. Others on this site have spent upwards of $10,000 building their suits, which sell for dramatically less. This is a prime example of the "Fan made" Industry. It's not something we do for money, we do it because we are Fans, and we like to see people walking around dressed as our favorite characters
 

BLACKULA727

Well-Known Member
As long as we are making the props under Microsoft's Game Content Usage Rules (which technically both applies and does not since we are only using a likeness and no actual Game Content [ by the way those game rips do violate these rules]) you are fine.

Basically it says you can do with it what you want as long as you don't reverse engineer the games, or make a profit. And since most of us have a "real" job (and i can say from experience) it's safe to say we don't make a profit. Also many of the great suits you see out there can cost thousands of dollars to make before they are molded, the molds can also cost upwards of $2000 to make an entire suit mold, and they are constantly "underbid" for sales. So it is almost impossible to do anything but break even as a fan. The article listed in the first post however is a prime example of how laws work across borders, and what you can/ can't do in different countries regarding mass production of props.

P.S.
just to give you guys an Idea my Reach Suit Reboot is already at $2,400 with no chest built yet, and only 1/2 a gauntlet mold. And although this was a commissioned suit, I have already surpassed the price I commissioned it for. Others on this site have spent upwards of $10,000 building their suits, which sell for dramatically less. This is a prime example of the "Fan made" Industry. It's not something we do for money, we do it because we are Fans, and we like to see people walking around dressed as our favorite characters
Well said.
 

tsau mia

Member
I was always under the impression that we could make and sell as long as there were no copyright infringements.
Basically, we can't (mass) sell "Authentic Halo Replica" suits, but we can sell "Future Soldier based off the popular game" since we aren't using the copyrighted and paid for title or any of the originally produced 3d art for our stuff. It's all based off of fan-made concepts.
Proof in point: look at a costume store that sells any number of replicated costumes without the actual licensing, like Harry Potter would be a "school wizard".
Personally, if someone was mass producing them, I feel the appropriate response would be for Microsoft to make more "authentic" ones and sell those instead of suing, but that's just me.
 

Starvinartist80

Well-Known Member
I deal with this on a daily basis when working with Art Students. ANY reproduction of an artist's creative property (i.e. Halo armor in this case) is legally copyright infringement. The key to the issue, as Ben said, is wether a profit is made from the recreation of said property. We as artist, prop builders, and fans are welcome to recreate anything we would like. No laws are violated until we sell the work for a profit. Even if that profit is only pennies it still qualifies as copyright infringement. However, companies do not invest large amounts of money to hire lawyers in order to prosecute over a few pennies. That does not change the law but it should provide a small amount of comfort for those who have sold pieces in the past. Again, if no profit is made then no law is broken. The real gray area arises when you begin to classify something as "art." Artists are actually protected very well under the copyright laws both from infringement and from being accused of infringement. A great example of this is a work by Marcel Duchamp. He took a cheap reproduction of the "Mona Lisa" and drew a mustache and beard on it. Because he "altered" the original image he was not considered to have violated any copyright laws. (Link to image reference) This set a precedent that has allowed artists to modify the work of others without legal repercussions. But the gray area is whether something like fan made props qualifies as "art" according to legal standards. Most courts would tell you no.

Sorry for the long explination but I hope it clarifies things slightly. Copyright Law is lengthy and very wordy. But to sum up this is what you need to know if you are concerned. A: You can recreate, build, wear, and display just about anything you like for your personal use. B: You absolutely can NOT legally make a profit from recreations of someone else's "intellectual property." C: Companies like Microsoft need incentive to invest capital in legal prosecution of copyright infringement. This incentive is primarily large amounts of money being made by the person infringing on the copyrighted property.
 

Toacrabman

Well-Known Member
In other words, th yare okay with it, and it costs alot to sue people, and court fees are absurd. So unless someone sells something for a substantial amount of money, or says it is liscensed (guy that was on pawn stars that tried to get $6,000) they should be okay.

Except for that guy on pawn stars. If he actually got 6,000 they would sue him into 3rd world poverty.
 

Jake D

Jr Member
I've got a question for ya Starvin, because you seem extremely knowledgeable in this respect, say I were to model, make, paint and sell a variant of the halo armor, something that doesn't actually exist (in their games/novels) but had a similar look to it as its a super soldier's armor, and I found a way for to to be highly profitable, would I be infringing on their copyright sheerly because its similar? At what point would there be a distinction between their particular version and my own model? These are pure hypotheticals, I've got no intention, or the skill, to make a suit like that, I'm just curious about the line between original work, and lifting a concept from a company.
 

Starvinartist80

Well-Known Member
I've got a question for ya Starvin, because you seem extremely knowledgeable in this respect, say I were to model, make, paint and sell a variant of the halo armor, something that doesn't actually exist (in their games/novels) but had a similar look to it as its a super soldier's armor, and I found a way for to to be highly profitable, would I be infringing on their copyright sheerly because its similar? At what point would there be a distinction between their particular version and my own model? These are pure hypotheticals, I've got no intention, or the skill, to make a suit like that, I'm just curious about the line between original work, and lifting a concept from a company.
That would not be infringement at all so long as you do not label it "Halo" armor. Since Halo is a copyrighted intellectual property (and I believe trademarked as well) you can't use the name for profit without Microsoft's consent. But if you were to call it "Halo inspired" you should be fine. The key here is that the model you are describing is completely you own creation. Artists use other's work as "inspiration" all the time. In fact the Halo armor designers borrowed ideas from countless classic science fiction references when they created the halo armor. Using others work as a reference or inspiration for your own work is just part of being an artist. So long as you do not simply copy the original work your are fine.

It can be very frustrating at times in the classroom when I try to walk this tightrope with students. I never want to limit their creativity and drive. So I encourage them to use material they are interested in and references they are interested in. That was the whole concept behind starting my teams armor build. But I can't let them use anything that can be considered copyrighted images when the submit art for shows. My rule to them is basically this, they can draw, paint, sculpt or create images from just about anything (within school appropriate content) for their own enjoyment in my class. And for most projects they can use characters, ideas, or images without too much restriction. But, if they plan on entering ANYTHING into an art show it must be 100% their own work. That goes even for drawing from a photograph. I tell them that if the photograph is theirs or they have direct permission from the photographer (in most cases portraits done by me) they can use them for reference, but if it a photograph from another source (i.e. magazine, books, internet) then it cannot be entered. That is about the only way I can encourage their interests and at the same time protect their artistic integrity.
 

Jake D

Jr Member
That would not be infringement at all so long as you do not label it "Halo" armor. Since Halo is a copyrighted intellectual property (and I believe trademarked as well) you can't use the name for profit without Microsoft's consent. But if you were to call it "Halo inspired" you should be fine. The key here is that the model you are describing is completely you own creation. Artists use other's work as "inspiration" all the time. In fact the Halo armor designers borrowed ideas from countless classic science fiction references when they created the halo armor. Using others work as a reference or inspiration for your own work is just part of being an artist. So long as you do not simply copy the original work your are fine.

It can be very frustrating at times in the classroom when I try to walk this tightrope with students. I never want to limit their creativity and drive. So I encourage them to use material they are interested in and references they are interested in. That was the whole concept behind starting my teams armor build. But I can't let them use anything that can be considered copyrighted images when the submit art for shows. My rule to them is basically this, they can draw, paint, sculpt or create images from just about anything (within school appropriate content) for their own enjoyment in my class. And for most projects they can use characters, ideas, or images without too much restriction. But, if they plan on entering ANYTHING into an art show it must be 100% their own work. That goes even for drawing from a photograph. I tell them that if the photograph is theirs or they have direct permission from the photographer (in most cases portraits done by me) they can use them for reference, but if it a photograph from another source (i.e. magazine, books, internet) then it cannot be entered. That is about the only way I can encourage their interests and at the same time protect their artistic integrity.
Wow, quite a difficult boundary to work within. Thanks for the reply, I now know just a bit more about the treacherous world of Copyrights and their infringements.
 

CoolC

Well-Known Member
@Starvinartist80
Your response is very insightful. My understanding of copyright violation is very much in line with your explanation. At the end of the day if we benefit financially off someone's IP, we are asking for trouble. If we work on the armor as an expression of art without infringing on someone else likeness or claim to be of the same, we should be fine.
 

Arioch

Well-Known Member
Sounds to me like any differences in the props from the in game items - be it color, dimensions, details.. or whatever... should qualify it under this "Mona Lisa Clause" as it is NOT the same as the original article.

If you use bondo/fiberglass you are essentially sculpting, which last I heard was a form of art.
 

Kissker

Member
Actually reading the story I found it a little funny.

The official "sale" of the helmets was banned in the US for infringement. However, using online services and selling overseas apparently circumvents this. The last sentence reads something of a joke of "oh if there were only a way to advertise and sell globally to avoid..." - implying the internet.

The futher point - hinted at by the one and only Tsau-mia (first page, last post) is the horrific 'replica' suits we see around halloween in cheap ass stores, they sell for roughly $100 each depending on the suit- and are in no way licenced by Microsoft, Bungie, or any other company other then the horrible makers. They put together a cheap $2 to make and package suit -and then sell them for starting $80-$100 and then when times up and clearance hit, still $15+ to get. What does this say about the suit? It's cheap, in quality and replication. It's horrid for comparison - even my worste failure at Pep/Bondo is 100x BETTER then that suit.

I don't see companies taking action on these cheap imitations, and even if we did "mass produce" (by which definition is NOT making 100 copies, but THOUSANDS) to sell = I don't see them taking action against us, they see probably more of a "Hey, look, free advertising" type deal.


It also comes down to the profit of the matter.

The helmets in question that were official grade Stormtroopers (by creator) - were selling for THOUSANDS of dollars EACH. This is why Lucas pressed charges - Lucas wasn't raking in the money on his masterpiece idea - even if the helmet itself (and many other things) weren't actually envisioned or created by him.

Even if we did replicate say 100 "Master Chief" suits - full detail, to sell for profit - we wouldn't sell them anywhere near that price range ($1000, a helmet? Sheesh I'll just pep it myself!) which is where we get slack.

Bungie sees us sell 100 "Master Chief" helmet - and think "Yes, more advertising without our effort! Spread the Halo Name!"

now, time may change this, and probably will. But with Halo 4 already advertised and pre-orderable (GET YOURS TODAY!!) I highly doubt the "Halo" franchise is going to buttom out any time soon.

I am not suporting the mass replication or sale of our work here, but I don't honestly see anyone going to get sued for selling something they made to someone else on here that wants it, and that's what it really boils down to.

I make a suit, get a year use out of it and then it sits on a stand near the closet and I wonder "hmm... " if someone else wants it, collects it, wants to use it, puts it to better use then collecting dust, then I say.. go for it. Sure profit may be made, I mean we all want at least what we put into it, right?

You could also circumvent the copyright by selling it for less than profit. It stated that making and selling an item for profit was the problem, so if you spend $40 in supplies and sell it for $40 - you don't make profit- you break even (or fall short because of Labor actually) but you also don't break that copyright claus for profit.
 

Spitfire22V

Well-Known Member
This thread popped up when I was away on vacation, so I missed it. Otherwise, I would have asked the following question back then:

In regards to the legality of making a profit from a costume of a licensed product/image, where does winning costume contests fall into this? Can the winnings from a contest you entered with your costume be considered "profits", or are they simply rewards/benefits that were given to you by some authority?

In other words, you are not asking someone for money for your work, they are simply giving it to you per the nature of a competition: winners receive prizes. Perhaps they can be considered "donations"?
 
Top