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Woodworkers Etiquette & Avoiding Plan Plagiarism

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  • Woodworkers Etiquette & Avoiding Plan Plagiarism

    As you may have noted in my last post, I am experimenting with starting a woodworking business, and I have some questions. Her is one of them...

    As I am pretty new at this whole thing, I don't really have the skills or knowledge required to come up with my own designs for things. If I tried, I would probably waste a lot of money in lumber and make a lot of crappy work.

    Someday, but not yet will I really being doing CUSTOM designs.

    So for now, I must resort to finding plans in library books, buying books, buying plans off the internet, etc. Well, when I sell some of these creations at a craft fair in a month, I don't want to come off in any way whatsoever that these items are "designed by me".

    So, my question is:

    • What is proper etiquette for selling creations made from someone elses plans/ideas?</font>
    • What is the best way to properly attribute the people who REALLY came up with the ideas?</font>
    • How far must one go in staying ethical and honest? I mean, is it enough to say simply that I didn't come up with the plan? Or to just NOT claim that it is mine? Or do I need to go as far as listing the original source somehow?</font>

    I am sure there are a lot more ways I could have asked that question. However, I am sure that you guys get the point of where I am going with this.

    Basically, I want to be honest, ethical, etc. I want to do the RIGHT thing.

    I just want to make sure I know what that is in this area!!!

    Thanks for your time.
    Paul Thompson

  • #2
    What kind of projects are you proposing? I would think if you made a desk and labeled it as a desk, no one would care where the plan came from. If you are making a work of art, you may choose to credit the plan designer, but I just don't see it as an issue. I think the copyright on plans is limited to copying and redistributing the plans and does not transfer to the work you would create from them - that's why they sold you the plan, so you would build it.

    As far as going into business is concerned, I have been very reluctant to build to any customer's spec. I just enjoy making stuff, I do not have the patience for someone to start picking apart what I have made. I have only sold a couple of things and they were strictly "as is" take it or leave it.

    Realistically, I am just not sure how much you will make unless you can justify a high price, make several items at once (to leverage the setup time) and buy wood in bulk. Even if you can charge a good buck, will it replace your day job? Either way best of luck.


    • #3
      I think you need to do a little more research before you act. Here are a couple of links that may help: What is a Copyright?
      Copyright is a protection that covers published and unpublished literary, scientific and artistic works, whatever the form of expression, provided such works are fixed in a tangible or material form. This means that if you can see it, hear it and/or touch it - it may be protected. If it is an essay, if it is a play, if it is a song, if it is a funky original dance move, if it is a photograph, HTML coding or a computer graphic that can be set on paper, recorded on tape or saved to a hard drive, it may be protected. Copyright laws grant the creator the exclusive right to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute, perform and display the work publicly. Exclusive means only the creator of such work, not anybody who has access to it and decides to grab it.
      And From the Library of Congress:
      Best wishes in your endeavor!
      If it don\'t fit, force it. If it breaks, \'needed fixin\' anyhow. 8{~


      • #4
        Most (if not every) plans I've seen are nothing more than someone writing down, with varying degrees of skill, plans of something they saw. I usually build something from seeing one or more examples of say a trunk or table. I rarely use plans and even when I do I make at least a slight change that is sometimes visible and sometimes not. Usually I joint differently than the plan calls for. I never say that I designed something, even when I did; I say that I built it. Nobody seems to care if I designed it or not.
        Anything you build,even an original design, will be a variation of something.
        So Captain, enjoy making things with wood, don't let this subject concern you too much. If you want to be original make at least a slight change to the plan and call it your own. Only an anal retentive lawyer or some other freak of nature will be overly concerned about it, and you don't want them for customers, they will annoy you endlessly. Be concerned with enjoying your work and the rest will take care of itself.


        • #5
          I though i have read on some plans like from magazines or maybe even NYW that with the purchase of the plan (or magazine) you can make as many as you want for yourself but something like 5 to sell.

          if I remember correctly...
          You might ask that same question on Wood Magazine's fourm or the WoodSmith Magazine forum.

          [ 08-08-2003, 09:45 PM: Message edited by: RixWorx ]
          <a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>


          • #6

            I remember reading a similar post in a WJ magazine some time ago. The answer was, "You can make and sell all you want from our plans. Just don't sell the plans. They are copy writed."

            If one publishes the plans, or offers them for sale, it's perfectly fine to make the item(s) to sell. Just don't try and profit by selling the plans themselfs.

            As for giving credit to the designer, I would not worry about it. The quality of the craftsman of the items if much more important than the creator of the plan, in my opinion.
            John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>


            • #7
              If one publishes the plans, or offers them for sale, it's perfectly fine to make the item(s) to sell. Just don't try and profit by selling the plans themselfs.

              Woody, that is an unwarranted logical leap. If that is fine with "Woodworker's Journal", that does not mean it is fine with "WOOD". In particular, I seem to recall that "WOOD" does place restrictions on commercial sale of projects built from at least some of their plans.

              Would that stand up in court? Heck if I know, but I certainly wouldn't want to go up againt Better Homes and Gardens (Meridith Publishing) to find out.

              Ask the plans supplier what their policy is, before purchasing the plan. If their policy doesn't suit, move on. There are _lots_ of plans suppliers.



              • #8
                if your like me you will probably get the plans and then find something you dont like about them and end up changing them, to me plans are really no more than an idea for something and many times end up being more like doodles and reminders (common comment from swmbo "how was i suppoosed to know that wasn"t scrap) A good friend has the right idea "I'll make it for you MY way" bill


                • #9
                  I like a bargain just like the next guy, but that implies an agreement between two parties.
                  I think it is best to play by the rules, and the rules are available, and clear. If the designer gives me permission to use his design, we have an agreement. If I exceed his authorization, I am taking advantage of him, and we do not have agreement.
                  Now I can alter his plans, and if significant change has been made, I may now be outside of Copyright protection. Otherwise, I must play by the rules.
                  Captain Bunzo says he wants to play by the rules, and yet I infer from some of these posts that the rules don't really matter. I find that interesting when I think back to some of the posts I have read here have been along the lines of "protect the American worker", but the tone here is justification of how to stiff the designer.
                  Most of us work in industries that seek to protect their uniqueness, and the ability to profit from it. We are enraged if someone violates that. Why shouldn't that be reciprocal? Have we forgotten Kenneth Lay and his cronies at Enron who creatively circumvented the rules? So unless this is a poll to choose up sides, I would say, Captain Bunzo, you already know inside what you have to do.
                  If it don\'t fit, force it. If it breaks, \'needed fixin\' anyhow. 8{~


                  • #10
                    I would think they would have to "patent" the design before they could legally stop you from making and resaling it. Copyright covers a lot but when you get into manufactoring, a patent usually is the legal edge on it. You get a head start with a patent.

                    There is a percetange (10%) I believe that if you differ your design, you are free and clear. Not sure on the % or how that is even measured. I have run into this situation a few times few and far between as we manufactor some items and no one (competitors) in our business gets a patent because of the cost but everyone resells with no problem copying each other's designs.

                    I would just slap the word desk on it and sell it in good consicous.



                    • #11
                      On second thought, before asking a bunch of Ridgid fans ( ) legal questions, I would find a good copyright/patent lawyer, put out $150 and get an hour of Q&A with him/her on the do's and don'ts.



                      • #12
                        I would not worry about the owner of the original drawing....Just put Hand made desk, and collect whatever you can.
                        Good luck in your endeavor, i tried that a few years back and found most people wanted that particle board crappola they sell in wally world for 1/3 the price. no taste in this neck O the woods ;-(
                        <a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a><br /><br />I can fix anything......where\'s the duct tape ?? :-)