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Thread: Advice on copyright infringement

  1. #1

    Advice on copyright infringement

    Hello, not a problem with modelling this time, but rather unauthorised use of a copyright image.

    I don't know if anyone can help with a problem I've recently encountered, and unless there are any genuine lawyers present I realise that any responses will have a default prefix of "IANAL, so...", but any replies will be appreciated even if they inform me there's nothing I can do.

    Briefly, a very old design of mine, a simple pattern on a 3.1 torus, has been copied without my permission or knowledge and used in the creation of an LED lamp of the kind the appears to be 3D but is completely flat.

    I tried to contact the manufacturers directly, but this is proving awkward as the sellers are at best slow to answer, and at worst utterly unresponsive.

    To their credit, eBay have a reporting system in place and due to lack of answers I've already filed complaints with them using a process (internal?) they call 'VeRO'. The script monkeys on Amazon's helpless desk are basically saying I have to buy the product and read the information on the box, so no joy there, and I'll join up to AliExpress to see what can be done as the one shown there is actually branded.

    I've put together a couple of videos (full links and attributions are in their descriptions, including the Internet Archive and my own current site) to show the copying, as these were necessary to put a case to anyone I'm trying to contact.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoMfp4MdYf8

    and

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jactAH6GkWk

    I admit I am very ignorant of such things, but a cursory browse of the web indicates that copyright is assigned automatically upon creation, let alone publishing, and given the many years since my original image appeared, the case is naturally clear in my own mind. Also, this is a case of copyright infringement, not trademark, and I'm not a trading entity, just a private individual.

    Lastly, whilst financial compensation would be nice, I doubt it will ever happen, and all I really want is a formal acknowledgement and for all future production to have a "Pattern Design (c) Catherine Leah Palmer" or similar text on the box (not the lamp itself).

    So, any thoughts?

    As always, many thanks for your time.

    Catherine.

    PS. I'm not on-line all the time so any replies from me may be delayed by a few hours.
    Last edited by catherinepalmer; 11-09-2017 at 09:11 AM. Reason: spelling
    Catherine Leah Palmer
    http://www.palmyria.co.uk

  2. #2
    Super Member Snosrap's Avatar
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    Congratulations! You inspired somebody to make a cool lamp. Too bad you didn't make a lamp then you might have something to contend. Contact the manufacture, maybe they'll give you a free one. Otherwise I wouldn't worry about it. Life is too short.

  3. #3
    Registered User unstable's Avatar
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    I found this link https://www.gov.uk/register-a-design on the UK gov site about how to protect a design. Unfortunately, I don't think you pose much of a threat to the company and unless you have all your ducks aligned and someone to fight for you, I would go with Snosrap's suggestion.

  4. #4
    Just call me "Ray" raymondtrace's Avatar
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    One might chase after copyright infringement cases when it is discovered that a significant profit went to the thief or was taken from you. I can't see either here. This is why I can giggle when I drive by a low-income daycare center that has poorly painted Disney characters on its windows. Some fights are just not worth it.

    If you can convince online marketplaces that it is a stolen design, go for it. But there's not much point to wasting any more of your own time, especially when there is higher-resolution material from others that may have been used to produce this product...

    https://i.imgur.com/ANvhpBZ.png

    How would this have been created from your lower resolution image?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by raymondtrace View Post
    One might chase after copyright infringement cases when it is discovered that a significant profit went to the thief or was taken from you. I can't see either here. This is why I can giggle when I drive by a low-income daycare center that has poorly painted Disney characters on its windows. Some fights are just not worth it.

    If you can convince online marketplaces that it is a stolen design, go for it. But there's not much point to wasting any more of your own time, especially when there is higher-resolution material from others that may have been used to produce this product...

    https://i.imgur.com/ANvhpBZ.png

    How would this have been created from your lower resolution image?
    Hello Raymond, my original image was indeed only 768 pixels square, but subsequently everything was re-rendered at 1200 for square images. Converting it (badly) to B&W and then scaling it up to produce the jagged image you link to is easy enough as I've just done it, and it aligns perfectly, but I think as others have said to just accept it. Also as I have the original model I can of course render at any size if need be. If they claim I've only just reverse-engineered it, this doesn't explain the Internet Archive entries from 2001 & 2004, or why I'd bother claiming it as mine when I don't want financial reward.
    Last edited by catherinepalmer; 11-09-2017 at 10:21 AM.
    Catherine Leah Palmer
    http://www.palmyria.co.uk

  6. #6
    Just call me "Ray" raymondtrace's Avatar
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    My point is that, even with the resampling artifacts, the 5000x5000 bitmap image offers more visual detail than what could come from a low resolution 768x768 (or even a 1200x1200) grayscale image. Someone had to render a higher quality image than what you published.

    It makes it a lot harder for you to prove your originality/ownership when there is a better quality image available, even if you presented something years earlier than when the higher resolution image appeared online.

    I suspect you put more effort into typing this forum topic and producing the YouTube videos than it took to make the original image. This may be why the consensus here is to not worry about it.

    Claiming copyright without interest in financial reward just makes you look nutty and further calls the validity of your claim into question. If I'm the offending business, I'm going to take a threat of financial harm a lot more seriously than a request for credit.

  7. #7
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    I am not quite sure, but I suspect when it comes to patterns, or industrial design ..you need to register a patent design, and perhaps in several countries depending on, not claiming any of such right and just having a design posted on the net or similar, I find that hard to have any bearing at all, and you may simply be smoked regardless when and where you posted your design.

    For artwork..which is different, if it reaches a certain level of height in art, it should be automaticly yours by right.
    Since your in London, maybe...
    https://www.gov.uk/register-a-design

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by raymondtrace View Post
    My point is that, even with the resampling artifacts, the 5000x5000 bitmap image offers more visual detail than what could come from a low resolution 768x768 (or even a 1200x1200) grayscale image. Someone had to render a higher quality image than what you published.

    It makes it a lot harder for you to prove your originality/ownership when there is a better quality image available, even if you presented something years earlier than when the higher resolution image appeared online.

    I suspect you put more effort into typing this forum topic and producing the YouTube videos than it took to make the original image. This may be why the consensus here is to not worry about it.

    Claiming copyright without interest in financial reward just makes you look nutty and further calls the validity of your claim into question. If I'm the offending business, I'm going to take a threat of financial harm a lot more seriously than a request for credit.
    Raymond,

    I understand what you're saying and don't want a 'fight, fight fight', but it's interesting that even the large image you link to contains the unintentional misalignment of a square in the mapping, which disappears when I use the corrected map, and an A/B comparison makes this obvious (not posted here)

    As for appearing screwy, why the obsession with money? When I contacted the book publishers who had also used this image, the authors wrote to me and from there I got other images published in books here in the UK & Europe and even the US. Exposure can be more important than cash.
    Catherine Leah Palmer
    http://www.palmyria.co.uk

  9. #9
    Just call me "Ray" raymondtrace's Avatar
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    To be clear, I am not contesting you. I'm simply pointing out how most parties would likely respond to your claim.

    You do understand that the publishers you granted additional rights only want your other images for their own profit and exposure, right? They're not doing this to help you. That's not how business works.

    How is exposure important to you? What exposure do you need?
    Last edited by raymondtrace; 11-14-2017 at 08:42 AM.

  10. #10

    i'm pretty sure you would win this. it is a complete rip-off of your work.

    most artists leave it alone though, way too much stress to sue them, go to court etc. and maybe win.
    and i doubt these guys have ton of cash.

    some options >
    1- sue
    2- leave it alone
    3- claim a small compensation, (settlement) and if no money is received, contact a lawyer.

    regarding 3, quite many do this with a moderate success rate/outcome.

    a 4th option, sometimes used (and you mention) is to do the exact opposite, cooperate, and use the lamp design in for self-promotion.

    I tried to contact the manufacturers directly, but this is proving awkward as the sellers are at best slow to answer, and at worst utterly unresponsive.
    a common trick criminals use, and it often works. the prosecutor gets tired of it all and then leaves it alone.
    Last edited by erikals; 11-14-2017 at 11:31 PM.
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  11. #11
    Carbon fibre dongleŽ 50one's Avatar
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    Hold on a second, so you modelled something out of a book??

    Also, might be wrong but I'm quite sure there is a primitive builtin into 3dsmax called knot??

  12. #12
    Super Duper Member kopperdrake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 50one View Post
    Hold on a second, so you modelled something out of a book??
    Nope - her image was used in a book, making it searchable.

    Honestly, copyright is one of those things where as an artist, unless it's an easy fix, I would just get on with life, knowing someone thought your design was good enough to copy. If a designer had only one good idea, then they'd be a poor designer.

    That said, if you're losing substantial income from a design and have the clout to do something about it, then I'd fight my corner. At the end of the day, with pride to one side, you have to be pragmatic and weigh up the pros and cons - how much will you spend for how much potential return.

    As a student, I came up with two cool ideas when we were set the task in a brainstorming lesson - "things to make with plastic sheet and a hot seem welder".

    Idea 1: An inflatable tent

    Idea 2: A big blow up ball people could climb into and roll around in.

    I also had another idea whilst walking to art college on dark cold winter mornings:

    Idea 3: Luminous dog poop.

    All three things have since come to fruition (the last one made me really giggle).

    I know it's a slightly different thing, in that I never printed my ideas, or wrote them down. But the joy that it gives me to know my brain was on the right track is enough.

    If I were you, if these people are easy to contact, I would call them and explain the situation - and ask that as a nod in your direction they send you one of the lamps. If you have a website, pop a photo of the product on it and mention it was more then likely inspired by your design. I very much doubt they'd contend it, and you get some free publicity.

    On a very much related note, and possibly an avenue for you to explore - look at these two bannisters. I produced the visual for the stairs for a client. I had to come up with some bannisters, I had free reign.



    Then look at this picture of an actual staircase. One of their clients saw the image I had created and asked for a bannister like the one in the image. I wasn't credited with the design, I received no payment for the design.



    I could either kick up a stink, or let it go. As they're a good client, I let it go, and took pride in the fact someone liked one of my designs enough to have it produced. As a good client, they were happy I'd given them more than just a CGI - it makes them look good, which makes me look good. They get more successful, I get more work. If I'd kicked up a fuss then the relationship would have become a bit sour. I balanced it out and pragmatically came to the conclusion that it was worth more to not say anything than to say something for not much reason.

    If I were in the business of making bannisters then I'd be more upset. If you were in the business of making lamps, you should be upset.

    From the above example though, why don't you approach the company and offer to design them more geometric lamps? Turn it into a win situation
    Last edited by kopperdrake; 11-15-2017 at 02:32 AM.
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  13. #13
    Just call me "Ray" raymondtrace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kopperdrake View Post
    ...I could either kick up a stink, or let it go...
    There's plenty of room between these options. While you don't need to kick up a stink, you can still let the client know your position. You can make sure future work agreements prevent this.

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