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Fake LEGO being blatantly sold at NYCC and other Cons - Brick Show Report

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  • Bosstone100Bosstone100 USAMember Posts: 1,434
    Buying knockoffs, for whatever reason, is not right. You are buying what is essentially a stolen property, whether we are talking about patent in a figure design (LEGO), or the hero's image/likeness (Disney, or DC). Same with those selling such figures. Now, just because LEGO does not yet make a figure/character right now does not make it right either, no matter how someone tries to explain it to assuage their conscience. Buying such products condones such unauthorized, if not illegal, activity.

    The arguments such as 'well, LEGO/DC/Disney do not stop them' does not work either and should not condone such behavior. How many people pirate CDs and movies and are not caught/prosecuted.. Does that make it right? No, at least 'No' is the correct answer.
    I think it is easy for some who apparently have no original ideas, that they could profit from, to say 'it does not matter, we are hurting no one' but again that is only to assuage their own conscience.
    Now, will there be those that make such figures/buy such knockoffs and find no issue with it? Sure, they likely also pirate movies and music too and have no issue with that (or at least if they are not hypocrites they will not have scruples about that activity). Like any other debate you will have those who are against and those for (even if only 'conditionally'), and they will likely not have their opinions change.  It is what it is, I get that. However, do not try to explain buying and selling such unauthorized goods as something that is OK, as it is not.
    Never said it was right or wrong. It's a tremendous stretch to compare collecting custom minifigs and pirating CDs and movies. I can get legit CDs and movies, because they exist from their respective publishing companies (except Howard the Duck which I really want). The Lego customs that I buy do not exist otherwise. Apples and oranges.

    People can try to explain anything they want. Who are you to say otherwise?
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 15,061
    SumoLego said:
    If the formula for the brown liquid is proprietary, the labeling doesn't matter.  Copying the brown liquid is enfringement.
    That's not entirely accurate.  In general, if you were able to replicate Coke's formula, you could make it and sell it as cola.  Their formula is a trade secret, which means it's protected from criminal things like corporate espionage (i.e. if someone stole the recipe from Coke and gave it to Pepsi).  But, if you were able to figure it out on your own, you could bottle and sell it all you want, though obviously it wouldn't have the (incredibly strong) Coke brand behind it.
    I was using the example provided so as to illustrate my point.

    (Thus, why I identified the brown liquid as proprietary - meaning that it would have the equivalent protection as Lego's minifigure patent.  Whether you could figure out the magic formula of the brown liquid is not really relevant to the discussion of counterfeiting Lego, as a Lego minifigure is not a trade secret.)
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 15,061
    The difference with custom figures is the sale for profit.  Per the statutes, you can't sue for enfringement unless there are tangible damages.

    If I decide to create a custom figure, or do some fan art or a tribute figure, the enfringement occurs with a sale for profit.  
    madforLEGO
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,528
    Buying knockoffs, for whatever reason, is not right. You are buying what is essentially a stolen property, whether we are talking about patent in a figure design (LEGO), or the hero's image/likeness (Disney, or DC). Same with those selling such figures. Now, just because LEGO does not yet make a figure/character right now does not make it right either, no matter how someone tries to explain it to assuage their conscience. Buying such products condones such unauthorized, if not illegal, activity.

    The arguments such as 'well, LEGO/DC/Disney do not stop them' does not work either and should not condone such behavior. How many people pirate CDs and movies and are not caught/prosecuted.. Does that make it right? No, at least 'No' is the correct answer.
    I think it is easy for some who apparently have no original ideas, that they could profit from, to say 'it does not matter, we are hurting no one' but again that is only to assuage their own conscience.
    Now, will there be those that make such figures/buy such knockoffs and find no issue with it? Sure, they likely also pirate movies and music too and have no issue with that (or at least if they are not hypocrites they will not have scruples about that activity). Like any other debate you will have those who are against and those for (even if only 'conditionally'), and they will likely not have their opinions change.  It is what it is, I get that. However, do not try to explain buying and selling such unauthorized goods as something that is OK, as it is not.
    Never said it was right or wrong. It's a tremendous stretch to compare collecting custom minifigs and pirating CDs and movies. I can get legit CDs and movies, because they exist from their respective publishing companies (except Howard the Duck which I really want). The Lego customs that I buy do not exist otherwise. Apples and oranges.

    People can try to explain anything they want. Who are you to say otherwise?

    You are right in one respect, in the interest of keeping my comment shorter I combined the note about customs and knockoffs with piracy and should have said selling a custom figure or not included custom figures at all with the piracy note.

    However, it is one thing to design a figure for personal use, another if someone is making a buck and not paying the owner of the license. Are they providing a check to Disney/DC for the figures image/likeness? No, not likely. If not, they are breaking the law (at least in the US)
    As this is unauthorized activity at best and illegal activity at worst, I think I have the law on my side to 'say otherwise'.
    VorpalRyu
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    VorpalRyu said:
    I did not state that I didn't want to produce building block sets based on my works, just that I didn't want to give said rights to TLG.
    Okay, but in that case you're not talking about what I was talking about, I was talking about something different. I was talking about a situation where IPs just aren't being used, or aren't being used in a certain way, but no one else can use them either. As you responded to my comment on that, I assumed you were following the same track rather than going off on your own tangent.

    VorpalRyu said:
    The idea of copyright is in part is to stop you taking my story & claiming it as your work, or using my works without my permission to create products that are quite clearly derived from my works.
    Yes in part, with the goal of encouraging you to create in the first place. There are of course restrictions though, when copyright expires people can already create derivatives of your work, people can also do that in non-profit circumstances under fair dealing laws so don't assume that even current copyright law gives you the unilateral right to dictate everything that happens with your work. As I say, copyright law is an economic tool, and that's the overriding goal - that's why a student can write a thesis on your work, quoting it where necessary, and there isn't anything you can do to stop them - the economic benefits of education are legally perceived to be more important than your right to dictate every aspect of how your work may be used. It's why reviewers can make money on your work by quoting it and criticising or praising aspects of it also.
    VorpalRyu said:
    Ahhh, so how long should I be 'allowed' to profit from my works before I have to create new works? 6 months, 30 days, a week? So do you want to give Disney, MARVEL, DC, J.K.Rowling notice, or should I, that they need to keep churning out stuff in that time frame or else their works will be declared to be in the public domain?
    Well that's the discussion that's been ongoing for some time. What's clear is that if you can rent-seek indefinitely that you're not going to be motivated to keep working. Most independent studies have put the optimal term for copyright at about 10 - 20 years, but right now we have 95 years in the US and UK which isn't backed by any kind of evidence - in fact, in the UK the Labour government in 2006 imposed 95 year copyrights despite the very independent report that they themselves commissioned on the issue saying explicitly do not do that. It's pretty clear that such long terms exist for political reasons, rather than because they're of any benefit to society. Tony Blair unfortunately figured that getting to stand shoulder to shoulder with people like Paul McCartney and Cliff Richard is far more important than ensuring we have a more productive IP industry.
    VorpalRyu said:
    As for the plumbing analogy? Fail. Sorry, but plumbing work is, like most trades, in essence, contract work. Once the work is done, you pay me for the work/materials & I walk away, no further income from that job once it's done.
    Well no, it's not a fail, because all you've done is explain the status quo, you've not explained why it should be that way, or why some people should have to be productive for their whole lives, whilst others should have special legal protections that allow them to do minimal work and be a drain on society beyond that. The only difference between plumbing being something that requires ongoing effort, and writing books or music not, is that writing books and music has special legal protections called copyright - if plumbing had them too enforcing the right to continue seeking rent on past work then it would be no different. Presumably you think plumbing doesn't deserve such protections, how then do you justify the current copyright status quo? The only real difference is upfront effort, and this is where the problem is - the protection for upfront effort is wholly disproportionate to other jobs in society. If you spend a day fixing some pipes, you don't get any ongoing rent, if you spend a day producing a song then you can rent seek for 95 years. If someone spends 5 years writing a book they've put in far more risk, and require far more protection to recoup their costs than someone who has spent a couple of weeks producing a song, but there's no real recognition of that right now and most importantly there's a ton of evidence showing that such extended protections screw society.

    If you ever do publish successfully, don't wonder why a lot of people opt to pirate your works. The lay person isn't going to feel too guilty about copying something that you did 5 years ago, when you've not done a day of work since after they have spent all day in a hard job being actually productive. Good luck convincing him that that work you did 5 years ago was so hard, and that you deserve a 5 year break when he could never dream of such a thing. Everyone thinks their job is hard, but creating really isn't because it's one of those few jobs you do because you enjoy. Adherence to copyright law by the public is in tatters for precisely this reason though, no one gives a shit about or will respect a law that protects the right of a minority to put orders of magnitude less effort into their lives than they do.

    Odds are you'll never be one of these handful of ultra-successful authors in the world who benefits from 95 year copyright protections. Odds are you'd actually be better served by reduced protections to create laws that people are actually willing to adhere to. But you're arguing in favour of something in the vain hope that you will in fact be the next J K Rowling whilst spiting yourself due to the fact that you'll likely never be a beneficiary of the current status quo, and in fact harmed by it. It's the same kind of naivety we saw in this woman who voted for a party that said it was going to make cuts, and then cried on TV about the fact that she got what she voted for:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34548733

    But I can't really be bothered to argue the point any more, people far more qualified than I have already made the case well enough, for example this guy:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rufus_Pollock

    Or in fact, basically anyone who has done any formal analysis of the problem and all happen to reach pretty much the exact same conclusion- that the current status quo is pretty crap.

  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,364
    Xefan said:
    VorpalRyu said:
    I did not state that I didn't want to produce building block sets based on my works, just that I didn't want to give said rights to TLG.
    Okay, but in that case you're not talking about what I was talking about, I was talking about something different. I was talking about a situation where IPs just aren't being used, or aren't being used in a certain way, but no one else can use them either. As you responded to my comment on that, I assumed you were following the same track rather than going off on your own tangent.

    But why should an originator be forced into making something just to stop someone else making something based on his idea. For example, if an author decides not to make 12" action dolls based on his story, or party cups with the characters printed on them, or minifigures, or cake toppers, or collectable plates, or trading card games, or magazines, or postage stamps, or lunch boxes, or pyjamas, or everything else. Not because he doesn't think they will sell, but because he doesn't think it is appropriate for his brand. Why should he be forced to make those items just to stop someone else making those items. The idea essentially forces an author to consider producing (or subcontracting) every possible product within three years, or see his control of his characters lost. Whether he wants that type of product associated with his characters.
    VorpalRyudougts
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    CCC said:
    But why should an originator be forced into making something just to stop someone else making something based on his idea. For example, if an author decides not to make 12" action dolls based on his story, or party cups with the characters printed on them, or minifigures, or cake toppers, or collectable plates, or trading card games, or magazines, or postage stamps, or lunch boxes, or pyjamas, or everything else. Not because he doesn't think they will sell, but because he doesn't think it is appropriate for his brand. Why should he be forced to make those items just to stop someone else making those items. The idea essentially forces an author to consider producing (or subcontracting) every possible product within three years, or see his control of his characters lost. Whether he wants that type of product associated with his characters.
    We've already been over this one. It doesn't really matter, it's not upto them, that's not the point in copyright. The point in copyright is to stimulate economic activity, until that's understood such questions are meaningless because you're effectively arguing for something else - you're arguing for creators to have complete dictatorship over their creations for all time but no such law exists, nor will it ever because it kills creativity. People can already produce all those things and post them on instagram, or Facebook, or Flickr or wherever else and there isn't jack shit the IP owner can do. What they can't do (legally) is sell them, but it's pretty obvious as per this very thread that that's happening in spite of the law.

    You're still arguing a point that doesn't really make any sense, because you're arguing they have a right which they already do not, to stop something that they already cannot stop. It's again that fundamental misconception amongst so many people as to what copyright actually is.

    The natural state of the world is that people can copy freely, copyright is a contract that says to creators, we'll give you some protection if it benefits the economy. If you're viewing it as anything other than that (i.e. the right of creators to control indefinitely and in every way possible their creations) then you don't understand what copyright is, why it exists, or how it's implemented in law.
    SumoLego
  • xiahnaxiahna Member Posts: 156

    I honestly doubt that back in 1710 they were purely thinking about the economy when this first came up...

    VorpalRyu
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    xiahna said:

    I honestly doubt that back in 1710 they were purely thinking about the economy when this first came up...

    Maybe, maybe not, but last I checked it's not 1710.

    Back then the copyright term was 14 years, which is roughly what the people I quoted earlier claim based on modern analysis is roughly about the most optimal duration.
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 15,061
    Christopher Tolkien refuses to permit further film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien source material.  

    I can guarantee you that if New Line went forward with a Fall of Gondolin film, there would be injunctions, cease and desist orders, etc.
    xiahna
  • pharmjodpharmjod 1,170 miles to Wall Drug, USAMember Posts: 2,916
    FWIW this has been a very interesting discussion for me to follow and digest. Thanks for all the good dialogue.
    xiahna
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,364
    Xefan said:
    CCC said:
    But why should an originator be forced into making something just to stop someone else making something based on his idea. For example, if an author decides not to make 12" action dolls based on his story, or party cups with the characters printed on them, or minifigures, or cake toppers, or collectable plates, or trading card games, or magazines, or postage stamps, or lunch boxes, or pyjamas, or everything else. Not because he doesn't think they will sell, but because he doesn't think it is appropriate for his brand. Why should he be forced to make those items just to stop someone else making those items. The idea essentially forces an author to consider producing (or subcontracting) every possible product within three years, or see his control of his characters lost. Whether he wants that type of product associated with his characters.
    We've already been over this one. It doesn't really matter, it's not upto them, that's not the point in copyright. The point in copyright is to stimulate economic activity, until that's understood such questions are meaningless because you're effectively arguing for something else - you're arguing for creators to have complete dictatorship over their creations for all time but no such law exists, nor will it ever because it kills creativity. People can already produce all those things and post them on instagram, or Facebook, or Flickr or wherever else and there isn't jack shit the IP owner can do. What they can't do (legally) is sell them, but it's pretty obvious as per this very thread that that's happening in spite of the law.

    You're still arguing a point that doesn't really make any sense, because you're arguing they have a right which they already do not, to stop something that they already cannot stop. It's again that fundamental misconception amongst so many people as to what copyright actually is.

    The natural state of the world is that people can copy freely, copyright is a contract that says to creators, we'll give you some protection if it benefits the economy. If you're viewing it as anything other than that (i.e. the right of creators to control indefinitely and in every way possible their creations) then you don't understand what copyright is, why it exists, or how it's implemented in law.
    You're right, I should have said making and selling. I thought that was implied since the thread is about selling.
    SumoLego
  • Coolguy5000Coolguy5000 Ireland Member Posts: 1,573
    Clone brands now producing copies of #76026 gorilla  grodd  goes bananas
  • chuxtoyboxchuxtoybox Member Posts: 711
    The thing that angers me the most about knock-off minifigures is when you look on e-bay for real LEGO minis, the majority of the listings that pop up are for these garbage figs, which must be horrible quality considering you can buy a set of 8 figures for $8.

    I just looked up Ninjago minifigures and 43 out of 50 listings on the first page were either knock-offs or custom chrome.
    BACbrixchuckp
  • BACbrixBACbrix AmericaMember Posts: 655
    I agree. I type in "Lego Minifigures Star Wars" and what am I greeted with? Yoda holding a fake gray rifle and a clone with a lightsaber ....
    kiki180703
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