When two designers independently design the same thing

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When two designers independently design the same thing

Post by NeverCeaseToCrease »

So recently, I designed a very simple model. It was a narwhal from a sunk fish base, with the long points as the tail and horn and the short points as fins. The context was that a friend asked me at school, "Can you make a narwhal?" and I modified the fish base and it turned out pretty well. At a first thought, I would have said that I "designed" it.

However, I was hesitant to post it online with the claim that I had designed it. Yes, I had come up with it on my own. But it felt too simple, and I was certain that someone had already done so. And after looking online I found that indeed there were some existing narwhal models from fish bases, although none were exactly as I had done.

I have two more examples. The first was when I was 10 or 11 or so, and I had "found" a way to turn a blintzed bird base into a 5 headed crane, of which I was very proud of at the time. But when I google searched "5 headed crane," I quickly found a picture of someone else's 5 headed crane, which I could tell was folded exactly how mine was on the blintzed bird base. I was very disappointed but I accepted that I had not actually designed anything.

The other example is from a few months ago when people were in the discord server were folding (from a cp a designer posted on twitter) a "beheaded crane," which featured a red color changed stump on the neck and a displaced head on the wing. I then saw a post on Instagram by a folder with an identical (from the outside at least) "beheaded crane," but this folder claimed to have designed it themselves. I don't doubt that this person came up with it on their own because they did not know about the model that everyone was already folding. But, after being informed that the model already existed, can they still say they "designed" it?


Here's a hypothetical situation that, as explained above, happens quite a lot in real life.
A designer--say his name is Bob--goes through the design process to create a model on his own. However, unbeknownst to Bob, it turns out that someone else-- say her name is Anne-- had previously folded the exact same model with an identical structure (perhaps it was a rather simple one). Anne had posted pictures of her model but never any form of instructions. Clearly, Anne has the right to say she designed it, but can/should Bob say he designed it too? Because, after all, he did go through the design process; he did design it.

I would love to know what you all think.
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Re: When two designers independently design the same thing

Post by Merlyngami »

It's an interesting question. I think for legal/copyright purposes at least, Bob can say he designed it, and publish diagrams and so on since his designing it was independent from Anne's. This scenario is covered on Lang's website: https://langorigami.com/copyright/
There are several documented examples of simultaneous composition in origami, particularly among figures of a highly geometrical nature. (This situation is analogous to two musical composers independently composing the same melody; it’s rare, but does happen.) If the figures were composed independently, each composer has the right to assign rights to his/her own design.
As to whether Bob can really say he 'designed' the model, that's more of a question of semantics. Maybe instead of 'designed', we should say models are 'discovered' :).
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Re: When two designers independently design the same thing

Post by Gerardo »

This is the kind of discussion I love! Thank you for proposing it NeverCeaseToCrease :D.

This has also happened to me. The two times I tried to create a kusudama it happened that someone else had created very similar ones long before:

I had folded the following kusudama without any knowledge of it existing before that...
https://www.facebook.com/neorigami2/vid ... 070749802/

But Meenakshi Mukerji had basically already made it as a variation of a different modular model by Yoshihide Momotani. You'll find it here under the name "30 unit assembly of our good old Fortune Tellers (Cootie Catchers)": http://www.origamee.net/gallery/2004.html

When I discovered that, I retrieved the model from the design challenge for which I had created it here on the forum: http://www.origamee.net/gallery/2004.html

And just last year I folded another kusudama without knowing about its prior existence:


After that, I found out about Jorge Pardo's Arabesque: https://www.flickr.com/photos/origamipa ... yqYq6V1bws

That kind of thing has also happened to me regarding an equilateral isosceles triangle box and a short square-base prism closed box, both from a single sheet, and a modular cube with corner pockets on each side. It happens :?.

Continuing, Chrissie from Paper Kawaii created her Origami Gem Box and Lid: https://www.paperkawaii.com/origami-gem ... l-diagram/

I had created Diamond Masu Box years before that: https://neorigami.com/neo/index.php/en/ ... d-masu-box

And also, fellow forum member origamiplus created his Origami Cube of Pyramids: https://origami.plus/origami-cube-of-pyramids

I had created Trihedron Cubic Box some years back: https://neorigami.com/neo/index.php/en/ ... -cubic-box

My own philosophy differs when it comes to myself and when it comes to others. If I fold a model I had never seen before and I find out it did already exist then I don't claim I created (or designed) it. Now, if I find out someone folded my model without knowing at all about its prior existence, I let them know I had created it before, and let them decide if they consider they had also independently created it or not. Although I do ask them to acknowledge I created it first.

Each time I fold a model that I'm unaware of its prior existence but I suspect it could already exist, due to its predictable design, I ask everywhere I can (the origami mailing list, the Pajarita mailing list, here on the forum, and the Facebook group Spot the Creator) if it already existed and if it did, I don't claim it as my creation nor I give it a name.
Last edited by Gerardo on April 22nd, 2020, 2:42 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: When two designers independently design the same thing

Post by Tankoda »

Been there! This is a tricky one. I've "designed" Montroll's 3 headed dragon, Jeremy Shafers "Mr. Smiley," Montroll's Dimetrodon, and several others. The policy I generally stick to is that if it's identical, or even a very similar structure with a very similar result, I might put up a picture saying that I've designed it and then realized it's already been done, but I won't be published a CP or diagrams. (I am working on a book now though...).
It's a little trickier when I come across a model that has a similar structure. For example the same rough use of 22.5 degree modules to make a design - usually for the same resulting creature. So far I've just used my best judgement. In the case of Montroll's dimetrodon, the only difference was a graft down the center, I didn't think that was enough. There are a few other cases, where there are more substantial differences in the base - and they result in different animals/creations, that I think it's okay. I'd love to hear more opinions on this though.
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Re: When two designers independently design the same thing

Post by Brimstone »

There is a famous case of a pig indpendently created by Adolfo Cerceda and Yoshizawa.

It is fairly common with geometric models and it's happened to me a few times.

I still call them my independent discoveries.
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Re: When two designers independently design the same thing

Post by Baltorigamist »

The issue arises when (if) the second designer has to prove that s/he had no knowledge of the existing design when s/he rediscovered the figure. In the event of a published model being rediscovered, this would be more difficult than with an unpublished model.
In the end, there are only so many possible structures for a given design. I know I’d discovered a tessellation molecule and posted a crease pattern for it only to find that Wei Fu had published a nearly identical model in one of the IOIO books. (I’ve never participated in the IOIO.) Did I “design” the model? Yes. Would I knowingly sell the design? Most likely not.
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Re: When two designers independently design the same thing

Post by origami_8 »

The topic of independent discovery is very tricky, as it is basically impossible to prove that you didn't have any knowledge of the other model, yet you have gone through the whole process of designing the model yourself. Fact is, it happens all the time that people unknowingly stumble upon similar models. Some models just lurk out there to be discovered by people at a certain point, like the octopus from a blintzed birdbase.
And then there is a second very related topic that arises soon after: How different/similar have to models have to be to be count as different models? With simple models I often see people claim a model to be theirs that is only like two folds different from the original. With more complex models, shaping alone can be several hundred steps that divide one model from another, yet the result is seen as the same or maybe just an derivative fold, but nothing unique you designed on your own. The borders here are fluid. If I take a winged elephant and turn it with a few folds into a winged lion, changing just the head a little, is it a unique creation? If I wouldn't know about the winged elephant and came up with the winged lion sharing the same base, just with a different head, would that be my own creation? I'd say it's tricky.
For myself, if I know it is a derivative work, I tell so, but not always am I aware of similar models that already exist. There are people who take the effort to ask on the Origami mailing list, for every single model they design, whether a similar model already exists. In my opinion that's unnecessary. If I designed it on my own, not knowing of any similar model, it is my own design, independent of whether it already exists. Just my opinion.
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