xadrian

Too Small For Premium?

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I've put up about 36 MOCs so far, all Microfighters.  Up until yesterday they were free, but I decided to set them all at $1.  It's pretty cheap, they're small models.  I don't know that anyone's actually built any yet so I have no way of knowing.

Anyway, today was the first day I actually submitted one as premium and was warned that the model was probably too small to be a premium set.  Would that stop approval?  What's the difference in getting it approved (most have been auto approved) and then changing to to premium after?

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why not set it up as a freemium? leave the 1$ price and link the instrction in the description. so you can get money fro the design if people want to support you.

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Hi, Xadrian;

You are right, we are going to demand a certain complexity for Premium MOCs. I am not sure if it is already implemented, but there will be a minimum part limit, probably, I think, around about 100 parts. The actual number could be different, I don't have those details.

The reasoning is as follows: some years ago, Premium MOC usually were very complicated builds, consisting of thousands of parts, and to create good instructions for such builds takes month of work. Obviously, the designer want to be compensated for his/her work, and offers the MOC as Premium.

Over the last six month, however, we have seen an increase of small and simple Premium MOCs, some even with 50 parts or less, and almost all of then with automatically generated Studio instructions.
At the same time, MOC designers were requesting a donation feature, to allow builders to support their work, even with small and simple MOCs, and because Rebrickable doesn't have such a donation system, we saw large amounts of cheap and simple Premium MOCs.

So right now, we are implementing a minimum part limit for Premium MOCs.

A month or so ago, I suggested a Freemium solution, where the MOC designer offers the instructions for free, but also creates the possibility for buying the instructions, if builders want to support the designer. In your case, that will not work, for to offer a MOC as Freemium, it has be Premium with an additional link to the free instructions.

So I would suggest that you keep your MOCs free as they are now, and add to the descriptions that you would like to upgrade your MOCs to Freemium. If enough MOC designers do the same, and a search for Freemium results in hundreds of MOCs, I am convinced Nathan will implement such a feature, and for Freemium MOCs there doesn't have to be a minimum part limit.

Take care,
Simon

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2 hours ago, biodreamer said:

why not set it up as a freemium? leave the 1$ price and link the instrction in the description. so you can get money fro the design if people want to support you.

Not sure how that would work.  Would you set up a $1 paypal link in the description.  Ideally I'd almost rather have a tip jar or something.

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22 minutes ago, Simon said:

So I would suggest that you keep your MOCs free as they are now, and add to the descriptions that you would like to upgrade your MOCs to Freemium. If enough MOC designers do the same, and a search for Freemium results in hundreds of MOCs, I am convinced Nathan will implement such a feature, and for Freemium MOCs there doesn't have to be a minimum part limit.

Is it possible to have one of the external links go to a PayPal (or equivalent) donate thing?  I don't mind having them up for free, they were originally, but if people would like to support continued models it'd be nice.  Or is just asking for a Freemium mechanic in the description the best way to handle it?

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4 minutes ago, xadrian said:

Is it possible to have one of the external links go to a PayPal (or equivalent) donate thing?

I don't think that will work, but obviously, you can put anything you want in the description of your MOC. I'd rather see a Rebrickable based solution, but I admit, I am biased. -smile-

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1 minute ago, Simon said:

I don't think that will work, but obviously, you can put anything you want in the description of your MOC. I'd rather see a Rebrickable based solution, but I admit, I am biased. -smile-

Yeah, I'd rather that too.  Thanks for the input!

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It's not that the MOC will directly be rejected when you submit it. It's more as a warning system to:
a) Check if your inventory is actually complete. Especially a first time it can be tricky to make an inventory.
b) Rethink if you want it to be a premium MOC. We often get small submissions, where you can easily reverse engineer the build just by the main photo. (in the old system with self-hosted instructions, there was a starting fee, independent of how many copies you would sell. So submitting a MOC that clearly wouldn't sell was not smart)
c) An extra reminder for the admins to check if everything went OK with the submission.

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Well I don't see why you would by something like that you got the inventory and the picture those two will add up to a complete build for free, it's like a puzzle you can buy the solution for.

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On 3/15/2019 at 10:51 PM, biodreamer said:

Well I don't see why you would by something like that you got the inventory and the picture those two will add up to a complete build for free, it's like a puzzle you can buy the solution for.

Exactly! But now member KeepOnBricking has started to put warnings under his models: "Do not attempt to reverse engineer the model without purchasing the Premium instructions."

See also the comments on 75892 Minivan

This is not okay. It's not his business if I reverse engineer a model for my own usage.

But really can he do anything against it? Would administrators delete user photos from users who haven't purchased the instructions?

I think administrators should intervene and keep him from posting that warning. It's really sad to see that this site is becoming more unfriendly and overly commercialized recently. :(

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Nothing can be done if you reverse engineer a design, you should release small MOCS as free and only charge for the complex bigger models which are hard to reverse engineer since there will be so much part unseen in the pictures. anyone should be able to solve a 50 or less part puzzle like that if they want that kind of challenge. so restricting a premium to be bigger is a good idea.

What should be prohibited is posting another authors MOC as your own afterwards.

There should also be forbidden to post company IP premium MOCS on the site for legal reason. I don't think anyone posting them has license right to earn money from for example Star wars (Disney) or Mario bros (Nintendo). The site is supporting criminal activity by doing so.

 

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On 4/2/2019 at 7:47 AM, biodreamer said:

What should be prohibited is posting another authors MOC as your own afterwards.

Of course, I just want to add them to my build timeline and upload a user photo. On the other hand, how many pieces do I have to change until it becomes a different model? Copyright on Lego models is rather vague I guess.

On 4/2/2019 at 7:47 AM, biodreamer said:

There should also be forbidden to post company IP premium MOCS on the site for legal reason. I don't think anyone posting them has license right to earn money from for example Star wars (Disney) or Mario bros (Nintendo). The site is supporting criminal activity by doing so.

You are probably right about that. But I guess many of these MOCs are probably the best selling ones...

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Folks,

legally the situation is rather simple. The first requirement for a work to be copyrighted is "fixation":

"Copyright applies to work that is fixed in a tangible form, (i.e. written documents, musical recordings, etc.). It does not directly apply to the idea of something. You cannot 'copyright an idea', but copyright will apply to a recorded work that realizes your ideas."
(https://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/services/knowledge-base/kb_idea)

A LEGO model, or a design, is an idea, and therefor it CANNOT be protected by copyright. A photo of a LEGO model is a work fixed in a tangible form, so photos of LEGO models are protected by copyright. The models themselves are NOT.

The second requirement is "Originality":

"A fixed expression of ideas is protected by copyright if and only if it is original. Neither quality nor uniqueness are required. Works that are similar, but independently created, are individually subject to copyright protection."
(http://www.geom.uiuc.edu/events/courses/1996/cmwh/Copyright/c_protects.html)

If two persons take the same set of LEGO parts, both create a similar model, and both take a photo of that model, the photos might almost be the same, and yet, they are independently created, and therefor individually protected by copyright. The models themselves are NOT protected.

The third requirement is "Minimal Creativity" (this applies to Australia and Great Britain, not to the USA):

"Hard work is not enough to gain copyright protection. At least minimal creativity is also required."
(http://www.geom.uiuc.edu/events/courses/1996/cmwh/Copyright/c_protects.html)

If one creates a Studio or LDD model, and then generates the instructions, there is no creativity involved in the creation of the tangible form, and thus the instructions are NOT protected by copyright. If, however, the designer adds a few (copyrighted) photos and some background information, the work becomes creative and original, and then it is protected by copyright.


As to Star Wars and such: again, the spaceships from Star Wars are ideas, and not protected by copyright. However, there is trademark protection on company names, logos, slogans and designs used to identify and distinguish a company's goods in its business trade. Trademarks must be registered in individual countries and it costs money to do so. In the USA, after initial trademark registration, the trademark is valid for six years. From this point on, trademark protection continues as long as the Declaration and renewal application are filed every 10 years.

The Star Wars trademarks prohibits the use of names, logos and slogans for commercial purposes. This means that Premium MOCs should not have these trademarked words or logos in their model name or main image. For Free MOCs this does not apply. Rebrickable already has software in place to prevent the usage of trademarked terms in Premium MOC names. If trademarks words are used in Premium MOC description, MOC designers are encouraged to show their recognition of the involved trademarks by add a (tm) sign after the first occurrence of the trademarked term.


Please note that the above is mere legal facts. I realize that there also is a moral side to these problems, and on moral grounds one might feel that rebuilding (or re-engineering) a Premium MOC without buying the instructions is essentially stealing. There are good arguments in favor of that proposition, but also good agreements against it. I am not unwilling to discuss that matter further, but before we get into such a discussion, it is imperative to understand the legal side of this issue.

A LEGO model, or a design in general, is an idea, and you can't claim ownership over ideas. That is a good thing for us LEGO fans. It means that we can use our bricks to build any model LEGO has designed, even though we didn't buy the box; it also means that MOC designers can create a LEGO model of a Ferrari or VW Beetle, even though they were never grated permission to copy those Ferrari or VW designs. Without that freedom of ideas, many Premium MOC would be illegal. Without that freedom of ideas, Rebrickable would not exist.

Take care,
Simon

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8 hours ago, Simon said:

For Free MOCs this does not apply. Rebrickable already has software in place to prevent the usage of trademarked terms in Premium MOC names.

Really? Build Better Bricks has premium MOCs full of trademarked terms. It's one thing to sell instructions for a 'Big Hairy Monkey', but I'm pretty sure Nintendo wouldn't be keen on them selling instructions for 'Donkey Kong', or any of the other Nintendo owned characters they have models for. Not to mention all the other licensed properties in their portfolio.

Also, I'm pretty sure it is illegal to profit from derivative artworks made of copyrighted characters. This has been discussed ad nauseam with respect to fan art, and you can find much discussion of it on the web. That's why companies like LEGO have to make license agreements.

I mean, I get that you are just hosting other people's work, and it would be a pain to vet every model being posted, but there are some premium models on here that are pretty blatantly profiting from the copyrighted work of other people.

Not that I'm suggesting you really need to do anything about it. All the T-Shirt companies have no problem selling derivative artworks until the copyright holders send their DMCA takedown requests, then they just take them down. Just don't be surprised if Rebrickable starts getting some at some point.

J

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The Nintendo trademark filings for Donkey Kong have a very broad spectrum, ranging from “program for home video game machine" to "downloadable video game program" and "program for smartphone". As long as Nintendo doesn't broaden its commercial activities to "build-able toys", a simple LEGO MOC is outside the range of Nintendo's business trade.

Furthermore, every trademark owner can use the Report MOC button to complain about a trademark infringement. The MOC will then be taken down.

You are right that it is illegal to create derivative works of copyrighted material, whether for profit or not. I think, in case of the above mentioned Donkey Kong, but maybe, also for other MOCs, the Fair Use doctrine applies: a Donkey Kong MOC is created for a limited and transformative purpose, and can be considered a parody a copyrighted work. If so, it is NOT a copyright infringement.

Do realize, however, that copyright infringement is independent of a profit motive. In other words, if you object to the use of copyrighted material in Premium MOCs, that very same objection applies to all the Free MOCs. We could easily have hundreds of free MOCs that might be categorized as derivative works. Copyright protection applies to all of them, not just Premium MOCs.

Take care,
Simon

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On 4/2/2019 at 7:47 AM, biodreamer said:

There should also be forbidden to post company IP premium MOCS on the site for legal reason. I don't think anyone posting them has license right to earn money from for example Star wars (Disney) or Mario bros (Nintendo). The site is supporting criminal activity by doing so.

I do not consider myself an expert on the subject, but have done quite a bit of research myself, and this is also my take on it; any use of IP for commercial gain is illegal. To sell a one of physical copy based on an IP is ok and falls under the creative work. And fair use means that there is no commercial loss for the company. When it comes to selling multiple instructions for an IP based model I believe that this is whole other story, in particular if it clearly states the the MOC is a model of X (x is then the Trademark name or IP). In this case there is a clear income loss for the company who owns the IP,  and that's why licenses were created.

9 hours ago, TrueDimensions said:

Also, I'm pretty sure it is illegal to profit from derivative artworks made of copyrighted characters. This has been discussed ad nauseam with respect to fan art, and you can find much discussion of it on the web. That's why companies like LEGO have to make license agreements.

Cannot agree more. The problem is that the majority of the most popular MOCs here are clearly IP infringements, especially when they bluntly state the name of IP, or trademark without having a license to do so. All Star Wars ship names and character names are protected, all car brand names, all characters from DC, Marvel Comics, Nintendo,... I could go on and on.

But if I understand correctly I basically can sell instructions of a MOC which represents Link, the character from the Legend of Zelda franchise from Nintendo, as long as I do not mention any of those in the title or description?! I don't know, but that just doesn't make much sense to me...

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LEGO don’t seem to have an issue with IP MOCs otherwise Ideas wouldn’t exist. They are actually encouraging people to design sets from IPs they don’t own. 

Also let’s not forget LEGO are fully aware of what rebrickable is. We have a very good relationship with them and Nathan has built on that to earn status in the Ambassador Network. They wouldn’t have done this if they had a problem with the fundamentals of the site. 

Does anyone know whether the owners of the IP get a % of each set sold or just a lump sum for the license which LEGO then make the money on? Because if it’s the later (which I think it is) then the owners of the original IP aren’t losing anything from Premium MOC sale. 

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I am sure they have to clear the IP before they release a set. it's not required to make fan content or release a free MOC, ie sending them into a contest such as ideas. Might be the reason why some has been rejected when they couldn't make a deal.

What is bound to braking license is selling anything that is IP related without a license. So I am not against MOC that is IP based (fan art), it's premium MOCS that is IP based that is a problem. they are actually earning money from someones else IP popularity and perhaps even design. ie if they have built something looking like art/design from a movie.

the license agreement between Lego and 3rd party is most likely different each time it's probably a bit of both. I am pretty sure Disney take % and not only a lump sum.

 

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