Selling origami--legal or no?

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Selling origami--legal or no?

Postby Fraze » March 6th, 2007, 2:10 am

The title pretty much says it all. For the past couple of months, I've been toying with the idea of selling origami, most likely by taking commissions. I don't know if I'll ever do it (to be completely honest, I doubt whether I'll ever get around to it), but before I consider it with any more seriousness, I need to know something important.

Is selling a model created by another person legal? I realize that many, if not most, creators copyright their works. Selling copyrighted models without the consent of the creator could land me in a world of hurt if the creator decided to take legal action. How can I tell if a creator has copyrighted a specific model? If I find out that a model is indeed copyrighted, should I contact the creator asking for permission to sell the model? Or is the whole process all more trouble than it's worth, and I should just give up on the idea of selling origami? (I realize that that last sentence is an abomination to grammar, please forgive me.)

Thank you all for your help!
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Postby wolf » March 6th, 2007, 2:24 am

When in doubt, contact the creator and find out.

You could always start with traditional models, enhanced in various ways (different paper and treatment, mobiles, earrings, etc). There's quite a few people already doing this, so I'm not too sure how good the prospects are.
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Postby halogen64 » March 6th, 2007, 4:44 am

I'm a fan of finding loop holes. You can't sell the origami piece of another artist since it falls under their intellectual property. You are using their artwork to profit without their permission. This of course doesn't hold true to traditional models. However, the artist does not own the right to the paper/materials you used as well as the time spent. If you were to say sell a piece of paper regardless of how it was folded, no one could stop you. If you make sure that your agreement of sale is for the paper/materials alone (which just so happens to be folded) then you should be okay. It's kind of like the pornography business... it's illegal to solicit, but it's okay to pay them to star in a movie. If you have a lot of respect for the artists though, you should really try to contact them and ask them, most should not have a problem with it, but getting a response may take some time.
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Postby origamimasterjared » March 6th, 2007, 5:05 am

Likening origami sales to the pornography industry. Wonderful.

Actually, considering where I'm from is known by many people to be the porn capital of America, that hits quite close to home. :D
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Postby halogen64 » March 6th, 2007, 6:07 am

I think I've opened a can of worms unintentionally. Never-the-less, read up on copyright laws. I believe Robert J. Langs site has an explaination if you are interested:

http://www.langorigami.com/info/copyright.php4
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Postby Ondrej.Cibulka » March 6th, 2007, 10:14 am

This is very interesting question. I have some contrastive ideas about it but I would like to write up only one: How I can contact the authors? For example Mr. Kawahata, Mr. Kasahara, Mr. Kawasaki, Mr. Komatsu, Mr. Goubergen...?
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Postby Cupcake » March 6th, 2007, 11:45 am

halogen64 wrote:I think I've opened a can of worms unintentionally. Never-the-less, read up on copyright laws. I believe Robert J. Langs site has an explaination if you are interested:

http://www.langorigami.com/info/copyright.php4


You realize Wolf said pretty much the same thing as Robert J. Lang has on there? So I guess that proves it, you need permission
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Postby Ondrej.Cibulka » March 6th, 2007, 12:34 pm

This is a question for jurists about art. If you paint copy of (for example) Goya's paint (Goya went to my mind due to new movie of Czech director Milos Forman) and sell it as copy of Goya's paint, do you need his permition? I do not know, only special jurists for this part of law could answer right.
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Postby akugami » March 6th, 2007, 12:51 pm

the best would probably be to sell just your own creations, 'though it may take a while to become that skilled to design a model ...
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Postby Cupcake » March 6th, 2007, 7:51 pm

Well, if you work hard enough than designing can become amazingly easy to you. It may take a lot of practice first, though.
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Postby Android raptor » March 6th, 2007, 8:14 pm

I for one did sell origami at AWA, and yes, it was other people's models. However, many of them had my variations incorperated into them. I think that's why it's much more acceptable to sell origami rather than papercraft, because with origami you can add your own variations to the models. And given all the things I folded, how was I going to contact all the original designers anyway? @_@
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Postby Ondrej.Cibulka » March 6th, 2007, 11:09 pm

That is exactly what I said. How I could ask Mr. Kasahara? :?:
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Postby Fraze » March 8th, 2007, 8:03 am

Thank you all for your adivce! I'll keep the things you have said in mind.
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hi

Postby Anonymous » August 12th, 2010, 4:51 pm

Selling copyrighted models can seriously land one in trouble
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Postby steingar » August 12th, 2010, 9:21 pm

Unfortunately, I doubt strongly there is any case law on this point. That is, no one has sued someone else for selling their model and had it go to court with a verdict. Since law in the US is precedent based, the answer becomes yes, it is legal until someone (a court) says it isn't.

A number of people have tried to use analogs from other crafts and other forms of art. However, until and unless there is a ruling concerning Origami specifically, there is no precedent.

As to what a judge would say if presented with such a case, all bets are off. Is the judge friendlier with one of the layers? Does the plaintiff's lawyer antagonize the judge? Is the judge having a bad day?

Law suits can be enormously unpredictable. Remember, difficult cases make bad law. One in which I was circumferentially involved concerned contract law, work was contracted by the defendants and done by the plaintiffs according to specification, yet the agreed payment was not made. Despite thinking that this was a slam-dunk case, the judge ruled for the defendants.

Moreover, I find it hard to believe that anyone is going to hire a lawyer to retrieve the pittance you make from selling your Origami. The money you make is dwarfed by what one would have to pay for legal representation for a suit which has a doubtful outcome. My guess is you can make whatever you want and sell it for what you can get. The worst you're likely to see if a cease and desist letter, and even that isn't too likely.

Of course, this is just advice on the internet, and has all the expertise and validity one would expect from such.
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