Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

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Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Erik Moeller-3
It seems like we've seen a bit of a silent creep of photos of objects
representing copyrighted cartoon or movie characters. Photographing an
_object_ of something which is copyrighted does not magically remove
it from being so. As a start, I've nominated several Star Wars
pictures for deletion:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template:Deletion_requests#Various_Star_Wars_pictures

I've also updated Commons:Licensing:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Commons:Licensing&diff=1965530&oldid=1953402

Please help to clean up photos of copyrighted characters on Commons.

Thanks,
Erik
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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Brianna Laugher
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Car_company_logos

Some problems are so big it's hard to know where to start... sigh.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:IPods

I freely admit that my knowledge of copyright is lacking. It can apply
to 3D objects like toys, models? machinery like i-pods? cars, why not?
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Ford_fiesta_mk5.jpg

Brianna


On 21/05/06, Erik Moeller <[hidden email]> wrote:

> It seems like we've seen a bit of a silent creep of photos of objects
> representing copyrighted cartoon or movie characters. Photographing an
> _object_ of something which is copyrighted does not magically remove
> it from being so. As a start, I've nominated several Star Wars
> pictures for deletion:
>
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template:Deletion_requests#Various_Star_Wars_pictures
>
> I've also updated Commons:Licensing:
>
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Commons:Licensing&diff=1965530&oldid=1953402
>
> Please help to clean up photos of copyrighted characters on Commons.
>
> Thanks,
> Erik
> _______________________________________________
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> [hidden email]
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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Matthew Brown-5
On 5/21/06, Brianna Laugher <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I freely admit that my knowledge of copyright is lacking. It can apply
> to 3D objects like toys, models? machinery like i-pods? cars, why not?

Under US law, at least, copyright law is not generally read as having
any bearing on photos of such objects.  Trademark law does, however,
for some commercial uses, in terms of things like logos.  However,
Commons has in general decided that we are not going to concern
ourselves with trademark issues when they impact only certain types of
commercial use.  They do not prohibit the uses of such images even in
a commercial encyclopedia.

Trademarked characters (e.g. Star Wars) are generally regarded as
being more protected than other 3D objects (because they are derived
work of things generally regarded as copyright-protected art, I guess,
as well as trademarked characters).

Photos of cars, ipods, computers, et al. are not a problem.

Photos explicitly of logos MAY be a problem, however.

-Matt
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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Andre Engels
In reply to this post by Brianna Laugher
2006/5/21, Brianna Laugher <[hidden email]>:
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Car_company_logos
>
> Some problems are so big it's hard to know where to start... sigh.
>
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:IPods
>
> I freely admit that my knowledge of copyright is lacking. It can apply
> to 3D objects like toys, models? machinery like i-pods? cars, why not?
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Ford_fiesta_mk5.jpg

I have in the Netherlands a judgement that yes, they (in that case, a
car model) are copyrighted, however publishing the photographs was
still allowed because the copyright owner could provide no argument
that this publication was harmful to him.


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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Anthony DiPierro
In reply to this post by Matthew Brown-5
On 5/21/06, Matt Brown <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On 5/21/06, Brianna Laugher <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > I freely admit that my knowledge of copyright is lacking. It can apply
> > to 3D objects like toys, models? machinery like i-pods? cars, why not?
>
> Under US law, at least, copyright law is not generally read as having
> any bearing on photos of such objects.

Because photos of such objects are fair use.  If you're trying to say
that the design of a car or an i-pod is not copyrightable, then I
think you're incorrect.

> Trademark law does, however,
> for some commercial uses, in terms of things like logos.  However,
> Commons has in general decided that we are not going to concern
> ourselves with trademark issues when they impact only certain types of
> commercial use.  They do not prohibit the uses of such images even in
> a commercial encyclopedia.
>
Maybe it's time for commons to decide not to concern itself with
copyright issues when they only impact certain types of commercial
use, and do not prohibit the uses of such images even in a commercial
encyclopedia.

If so, it's important that such an issue be very carefully addressed.
You don't want commons to wind up like En.wikipedia.

> Trademarked characters (e.g. Star Wars) are generally regarded as
> being more protected than other 3D objects (because they are derived
> work of things generally regarded as copyright-protected art, I guess,
> as well as trademarked characters).
>
> Photos of cars, ipods, computers, et al. are not a problem.
>
I still don't see why a car or an I-pod is any less copyrightable than
an action figure.  A generic computer, perhaps, because its look is
purely functional.  But even then, I'm sure the design of the I-mac is
copyrighted - a lot of creative work went into making the I-mac *look
good*.

Anthony
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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Daniel Kinzler
> I still don't see why a car or an I-pod is any less copyrightable than
> an action figure.  A generic computer, perhaps, because its look is
> purely functional.  But even then, I'm sure the design of the I-mac is
> copyrighted - a lot of creative work went into making the I-mac *look
> good*.

The reason is the concept of "character copyright". Google for it. On a
first glance, I found this to be interesting:
http://www.ivanhoffman.com/jointauthors.html (about half way down).

Regards
-- Daniel

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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Anthony DiPierro
On 5/21/06, Daniel Kinzler <[hidden email]> wrote:

> > I still don't see why a car or an I-pod is any less copyrightable than
> > an action figure.  A generic computer, perhaps, because its look is
> > purely functional.  But even then, I'm sure the design of the I-mac is
> > copyrighted - a lot of creative work went into making the I-mac *look
> > good*.
>
> The reason is the concept of "character copyright". Google for it. On a
> first glance, I found this to be interesting:
> http://www.ivanhoffman.com/jointauthors.html (about half way down).
>
> Regards
> -- Daniel
>
Yes, characters are copyrighted.  But that doesn't say that a car or
an I-pod isn't.  In the case of cars:

"Copyright law is an additional, but less commonly used, legal
protection for automobile designs. The application of copyright law is
via a specific category of sculptural works, recognized as being
protected in their three-dimensional form. Copyright protection arises
when (1) a specific feature of the design is original - that is,
possessing more than a mere quantum of creativity in its design, and
(2) that specific feature exists separate and apart from the feature's
functional aspect."
http://www.metrocorpcounsel.com/current.php?artType=view&artMonth=June&artYear=2005&EntryNo=2974

The same would be true of the Ipod - functional aspects of the design
would not be copyrightable, but creative asaesthetic aspects of the
design would (though I doubt I can find a link specifically describing
this in terms of the Ipod).

Anthony
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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Matthew Brown-5
On 5/21/06, Anthony DiPierro <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> The same would be true of the Ipod - functional aspects of the design
> would not be copyrightable, but creative asaesthetic aspects of the
> design would (though I doubt I can find a link specifically describing
> this in terms of the Ipod).

In practice, there is no case law (in the US, at least) suggesting
that photographs of such objects are considered copyright
infringement.

Thus, Commons should not consider this an issue.

-Matt
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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Anthony DiPierro
On 5/21/06, Matt Brown <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 5/21/06, Anthony DiPierro <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > The same would be true of the Ipod - functional aspects of the design
> > would not be copyrightable, but creative asaesthetic aspects of the
> > design would (though I doubt I can find a link specifically describing
> > this in terms of the Ipod).
>
> In practice, there is no case law (in the US, at least) suggesting
> that photographs of such objects are considered copyright
> infringement.
>
> Thus, Commons should not consider this an issue.
>
Is there case law suggesting that photographs of costumes or action
figures are copyright infringement?

Anthony
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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Erik Moeller-3
On 5/21/06, Anthony DiPierro <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Is there case law suggesting that photographs of costumes or action
> figures are copyright infringement?

That's a valid question. One could argue that photographing a doll
removes the expression from commercial relevance to the copyright
holder. If that is true, then I would suspect photos of dolls (not 3D
models) work particularly well for cartoon characters, while artist's
impressions are better for human actors. Is there such a thing as
"clearly derivative, but not infringing"?

The situation is complicated by our assertion that the image is free
content, allowing you to use it for any purpose whatsoever. Of course
it's always possible to effectively turn a free content picture into a
copyright infringement through modification. I really don't have a
clue where to draw the line at the moment.

We live in a copyrighted world. It gets quite nauseating sometimes.

Erik
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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Matthew Brown-5
In reply to this post by Anthony DiPierro
On 5/21/06, Anthony DiPierro <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Is there case law suggesting that photographs of costumes or action
> figures are copyright infringement?

Not to my knowledge.

-Matt
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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Matthew Brown-5
In reply to this post by Erik Moeller-3
On 5/21/06, Erik Moeller <[hidden email]> wrote:
> The situation is complicated by our assertion that the image is free
> content, allowing you to use it for any purpose whatsoever. Of course
> it's always possible to effectively turn a free content picture into a
> copyright infringement through modification. I really don't have a
> clue where to draw the line at the moment.

Given the way the law works right now, I don't think we can ever 100%
guarantee that an image is not legally restricted from certain uses.

-Matt
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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Anthony DiPierro
In reply to this post by Erik Moeller-3
On 5/21/06, Erik Moeller <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 5/21/06, Anthony DiPierro <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > Is there case law suggesting that photographs of costumes or action
> > figures are copyright infringement?
>
> That's a valid question. One could argue that photographing a doll
> removes the expression from commercial relevance to the copyright
> holder. If that is true, then I would suspect photos of dolls (not 3D
> models) work particularly well for cartoon characters, while artist's
> impressions are better for human actors. Is there such a thing as
> "clearly derivative, but not infringing"?
>
Actually, this brings up a common misnomer about US copyright law,
which is probably in part spread because of the strange terms of the
GPL.  Whether or not something is a "derivative" is irrelevant to the
particular situation.  Copyright law protects *preparation* of a
derivative work and *copying* of a copyrighted work, it doesn't
*directly* protect copying of a derivative work.  Copying of a
derivative work is infringement only because (or maybe I should say to
the extent) it involves copying of the original work (see Mirage
Editions v. Albuquerque A.R.T. and Galoob v. Nintendo).

> The situation is complicated by our assertion that the image is free
> content, allowing you to use it for any purpose whatsoever. Of course
> it's always possible to effectively turn a free content picture into a
> copyright infringement through modification. I really don't have a
> clue where to draw the line at the moment.
>
> We live in a copyrighted world. It gets quite nauseating sometimes.
>
> Erik

The combination of copyright, international law, and free content is a
very tricky one.  This is one of the things I hope can be hashed out
to some extent during the Free Content Definition procedure.
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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Jimmy Wales
In reply to this post by Anthony DiPierro
Anthony DiPierro wrote:
> Maybe it's time for commons to decide not to concern itself with
> copyright issues when they only impact certain types of commercial
> use, and do not prohibit the uses of such images even in a commercial
> encyclopedia.

No, this is not the purpose of commons.  The purpose of commons is to be
 very restrictive and narrow so that a huge range of people who would
like to feel comfortable reusing our work can do so.  There will of
course be borderline cases, but unlike the other projects, commons
should come down firmly on the side of caution.

Indeed, by doing so, we make all the more clear what is broken about
aspects of current copyright law worldwide.



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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Andre Engels
2006/5/24, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]>:

> No, this is not the purpose of commons.  The purpose of commons is to be
>  very restrictive and narrow so that a huge range of people who would
> like to feel comfortable reusing our work can do so.  There will of
> course be borderline cases, but unlike the other projects, commons
> should come down firmly on the side of caution.
>
> Indeed, by doing so, we make all the more clear what is broken about
> aspects of current copyright law worldwide.

I don't see how that would work. If we are being extremely cautious,
we won't get into trouble. So we cannot make it clear by saying "we
got even sued for showing someone in a suit that just vaguely
resembled Superman's." And if we complain about what we have to
disallow, people can just retort by saying we're being too strict on
ourselves. The only way I can see you can use it to show how copyright
law is broken is when the way in which you believe it is broken is by
being so extremely hard to interpret.

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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Matthew Brown-5
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales
On 5/24/06, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:
> No, this is not the purpose of commons.  The purpose of commons is to be
>  very restrictive and narrow so that a huge range of people who would
> like to feel comfortable reusing our work can do so.  There will of
> course be borderline cases, but unlike the other projects, commons
> should come down firmly on the side of caution.
>
> Indeed, by doing so, we make all the more clear what is broken about
> aspects of current copyright law worldwide.

I agree that we should come down on the side of caution, but not
paranoia.  Photos of copyrighted characters are probably not OK;
photos of general 3D objects, even if those objects are copyrightable,
are generally not considered copyright infringements, in the US at
least and many other countries.

-Matt
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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Anthony DiPierro
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales
On 5/24/06, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Anthony DiPierro wrote:
> > Maybe it's time for commons to decide not to concern itself with
> > copyright issues when they only impact certain types of commercial
> > use, and do not prohibit the uses of such images even in a commercial
> > encyclopedia.
>
> No, this is not the purpose of commons.  The purpose of commons is to be
>  very restrictive and narrow so that a huge range of people who would
> like to feel comfortable reusing our work can do so.  There will of
> course be borderline cases, but unlike the other projects, commons
> should come down firmly on the side of caution.
>
Not only did you take my quote out of context, but you responded with
a point which is completely tangental to the comment I was making.  I
agree that the purpose of commons is to be very restrictive and
narrow.  But if you're going to allow items which are non-free due to
trademark law, then the decision has already made not to insist on
absolute restrictiveness.

> Indeed, by doing so, we make all the more clear what is broken about
> aspects of current copyright law worldwide.
>
Who are you going to make it clear to?  Most of the world *supports*
copyright when it comes to blatant commercial non-educational use.
Considering the reluctance of Wikimedia to release its own logos under
a free license I would assume Wikimedia itself even supports this.
Those people who are completely anti-copyright in all situations,
well, I don't think they need anything made more clear.

Anthony
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Re: Models, toys, and other objects can be copyrighted

Anthony DiPierro
In reply to this post by Matthew Brown-5
On 5/24/06, Matt Brown <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I agree that we should come down on the side of caution, but not
> paranoia.  Photos of copyrighted characters are probably not OK;
> photos of general 3D objects, even if those objects are copyrightable,
> are generally not considered copyright infringements, in the US at
> least and many other countries.
>
> -Matt

Photos of copyrighted characters also are generally not considered
copyright infringements, in the US.  If you take the photo and build a
comic book around it, then maybe it would be.  I'm not at all familiar
with the status in other countries, though.  Japanese doujinshi
artists certainly seem to get away with a lot of things that probably
wouldn't be possible in the US, though.

Anthony
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