Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

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Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby mkosmul » January 1st, 2017, 5:02 pm

It is customary to ask the author of an origami model for permission before teaching the model in public, e.g. during a convention. Now, I’m wondering how to approach the situation of the author being dead and his heirs/family not being easy to find and get in touch with.

In my particular case, I would like to teach some models by Shuzo Fujimoto, e.g. Hydrangea and Clover Folding at one of the upcoming conventions. These models are by now considered classics of tessellation design. The author passed away recently and I have no idea how I could find his family and ask for permission with a reasonable amount of effort.

What do you think would be the appropriate thing to do? Give up and not teach the model, or teach it and try to get in touch with the author’s heirs later on if an opportunity to do so arises (“ask for forgiveness rather than for permission”)? Or perhaps someone here on the forum knows a way to contact Fujimoto’s family?
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Re: Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby origami_8 » January 1st, 2017, 6:37 pm

As far as I understand it teaching (non-profit) at a convention falls under fair use and does not need explicit permission from the author, although it is nice to ask for it.

For contacting the right holders of deceased or hard to reach designers you could try contacting the oac, or someone who already obtained permission to teach those models (e.g. Sara Adams) as they might know how to reach out to the right people.
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Re: Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby Brimstone » January 1st, 2017, 6:55 pm

origami_8 wrote:As far as I understand it teaching (non-profit) at a convention falls under fair use and does not need explicit permission from the author, although it is nice to ask for it.


It is very important that we keep it this way, otherwise many models would be lost within the bureaucracy.
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Re: Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby Gerardo » January 2nd, 2017, 12:59 am

I have to disagree. First thing is the rights of the creator. Besides that, most conventions aren't non-profit. The workshop facilitators aren't winning from it but the convention per se is a commercial endeavor. So if it isn't possible to get the authorization on time, I suggest not teaching the model in question.

Now, about looking for certain creators and relatives of deceased creators, I suggest asking around. I particularly consider the O-list a great option.
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Re: Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby Brimstone » January 2nd, 2017, 1:03 am

You might not agree but this is the way it's been and they way it should continue to be. Teaching a model under these circumstances falls under the "fair use" that owning a diagram allows you to.
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Re: Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby Gerardo » January 2nd, 2017, 2:07 am

Sorry Brimstone but I must also disagree with the assertion of "this is the way it's been".

Look here:

OrigamiUSA wrote:Convention 2016 Teaching Classes...

Remember that we must have the creators' permission to teach their designs...

I consider OrigamiUSA conventions an example of a lawful and ethical origami convention. Now the quote is from https://origamiusa.org/convention2016_teachingclasses
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Re: Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby Brimstone » January 2nd, 2017, 2:17 am

Maybe you're right and what I had read about fair use applies only for private classes outside conventions.
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Re: Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby origami_8 » January 2nd, 2017, 8:45 am

It is weird. I could have sworn that there was a passage about courtesy on the OUSA page that explicitly said that teaching at conventions (or other occasions where no money is involved) doesn't need the explicit permission of the author. Could it be they changed it?

The opinions regarding copyright got far more rigorous during the last years.
I for one wouldn't mind if someone uses my models non-commercially for teaching, but would like to be asked if money is involved. But after all, Origami is for sharing and in my opinion, if you share a diagram, you wilfully accept that others reproduce and teach your model. Being an author of a published Origami book myself I don't understand all the fuzz that's made about something that should be clear enough. After all, it is plain stupid to give someone instructions to do something and say you are not allowed to do it or teach anyone else how to do it. It is a whole different topic if money is involved but for non commercial activities there should be no question whether you need permission or not.
There is also one other point that has to be taken into consideration: Not all countries have the same copyright laws. What may be forbidden or frowned upon in the US, might not necessarily be the case in the rest of the world.
Disclaimer: That's just my opinion and obviously not like OUSA sees it nowadays.
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Re: Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby Brimstone » January 2nd, 2017, 3:19 pm

origami_8 wrote:... Being an author of a published Origami book myself I don't understand all the fuzz that's made about something that should be clear enough. After all, it is plain stupid to give someone instructions to do something and say you are not allowed to do it or teach anyone else how to do it. It is a whole different topic if money is involved but for non commercial activities there should be no question whether you need permission or not...


These are wisdom words.
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Re: Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby mkosmul » January 2nd, 2017, 9:57 pm

Thank you for all your tips and opinions — I will start by getting in touch with OAC.

While I myself certainly wouldn't mind anyone teaching my models even if they didn't ask for permission, some people may have a different attitude, and copyright laws sometimes differ a lot from what I would consider common sense. Often they are not even executed by the authors themselves but rather by organisations which tend to have much less understanding than individuals.

So even though I myself think Mr. Fujimoto wouldn’t mind, I prefer to play it safe.
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Re: Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby Gerardo » January 3rd, 2017, 6:35 pm

That's a great decision!

I suggest creators to publicly declare what they allow and what don't they regarding their models. The Creative Common licenses are a great option, although you could simply write down a list of what's allowed and what isn't. I've started doing that just now.
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Re: Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby mkosmul » January 5th, 2017, 6:50 pm

I contacted OAC, who gave me the e-mail address of Shuzo Fujimoto’s son. I asked him for the permission to teach his father's models and within two days, I got a positive reply. It all went surprisingly smooth. Thank you origami_8 for the tip.
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Re: Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby origami_8 » January 5th, 2017, 7:23 pm

Glad to hear you've been successful in obtaining permission. :-)
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Re: Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby steingar » January 6th, 2017, 4:07 pm

I cannot speak for nations outside the US, but copyright statues (which are all on line by the way, you can look them up for yourselves) stipulate that if you are teaching for a non-profit institution in a classroom setting you aren't easily violating copyright. It can be done, but it isn't easy. For example, I can use an entire chapter out of a textbook in one of my classes with little worry. If I try and use and entire textbook the same way I may be in violation of copyright. Conventions like OUSA, PCOC, and CenterFold are all run by not-for-profit organizations.

I have heard it said by members of the New York crew that they contacted a lawyer to iron this issue out. Apparently they contacted the world's stupidest lawyer, since he or she said you had to get permission to teach designs in a classroom setting for a non-profit, which you don't. It is a nice courtesy, especially if the designer is easily contacted. My thinking is if the designer shows up to the convention and sees you teaching his or her models without permission, there might be friction. That said, dead people don't give permission. Moreover, I don't usually worry about it if there is a signification language barrier either. And I myself think a couple Google searches fits the bill for contact, you shouldn't need to be a private detective to teach Origami.

What we all have to realize is that our models are ideas promulgated by people. Barriers to said promulgation are antithetical to the spread of Origami.
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Re: Teaching models of deceased or hard-to-reach designers

Postby Gerardo » January 7th, 2017, 11:28 pm

Hi! I'm copying my answer from another thread, since I thought it was appropiate here as well:

This is what the US copyright law says of one of their factor for claiming fair use:

...the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes...


Here's the source: https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107

So in an informal free-of-charge gathering you can easily claim fair use. If you earn money from the workshop then it isn't likely. Regarding conventions, I'd say the question here is wether a convention, where there's money involved, has a "nonprofit educational purpose" or a commercial nature. At a first glance I'd say it does have a commercial nature.
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