I'm starting a new thread for this since hurda is an impatient man.malachi wrote:This is counter to my prior understanding of the issue, which was that the specific diagram was copyrightable, but the folds were not, so any person willing to document the model in a different way could freely publish it.Joseph Wu wrote:The current popular interpretation of copyright law amongst leading designers is that designs are copyrightable. This means very little since it has not been tested in court. Without that test, there is no legal precedent, and the interpretation is really just a matter of opinion. However, this interpretation has had enough weight to cause out-of-court settlements in such cases. So, from that point of view, distributing your own diagrams would require permission of the copyright holder. Of course, once such permission is given, the diagrammer would hold the copyright on the diagrams.
I had assumed that was how Alexandra Dirk published models (mainly boxes) through Sterling Publishing that are identical to Tomoko Fuse's boxes but are diagrammed with photographs instead of line drawings. Unless some of these out of court settlements are about that and I'm just not aware of them. Can you specify more about these cases?
The original view of "diagrams are copyrightable, models are not" are an outgrowth of the copyright policy as published by the Friends of the Origami Center of America (the previous name of OrigamiUSA). They sought legal advice from their attorney, and that view was his interpretation of copyright law. This view soon became the accepted view in origami circles. However, if I remember correctly, he was not a copyright or intellectual property (IP) lawyer.
The key concept behind his interpretation is that copyright requires that the copyrighted material be "fixed in a tangible medium of expression." He felt that an origami design was not fixed. I have always disagreed with this particular interpretation, and more recently, others have come to agree with me.
A particular origami design is a folding process that results in a particular model. That model is a tangible medium of expression. Just because instructions exist to help people try to duplicate the design does not invalidate it as a unique creative endeavour that was originally created in fixed form. Other examples of this sort of situation also exist: music, clothing patterns, architectural blueprints, etc. In all such cases, both the original creative design and the instructions are covered by copyright. I would argue that origami is similar.
I have consulted with two IP lawyers regarding this, and they agree with my interpretation. Both on my own, and with one of the lawyers' help, I have successfully received compensation for unauthorized use of my work. As these were all out-of-court settlements, I cannot provide details other than to say that my designs were used in advertising without my consent. This has included a case where a photo was taken from my website, and then it was heavily altered by computer before it was used in an ad. Another case involved models folded from diagrams taken from my site.
Please note that OrigamiUSA is now reconsidering their position on copyright. Robert Lang leads the Copyright Committee and they are working with an IP lawyer to draft new guidelines. I'm expecting they will be similar to my point of view.
As for Alexandra Dirk (and several other plagarists in the origami world), I know little of what has happened in the background. It is up to the copyright holder(s) to pursue it, if they want to.