[Edit] Well, April first is over, and for those who didn’t pick up on it, yes, this was an April Fools Day prank. Folks from the Ldraw steering committee got in touch asking for help spreading their prank, and I was happy to be involved. I thought that this joke had an important purpose, to draw community attention to the recent bricklink TOS change, which attempts to claim ownership to a great deal of community work. For those who aren’t aware, every time you see a rendering of a brick on bricklink, that came from LDraw, and the 3D model was created by a Lego fan for use by all. The photos are contributed by members (usually store keepers), part names are part of our hobby culture, and of course the numbers are molded onto the bricks. Those aspects created by community members were meant to help everyone equally, and I think Bricklink management should think long and hard about what sort of message this move sends to the community.
As for my personal character, I was putting on a greedy persona to help drive the message home. Also, as a warning, it’s a road I’d hate to see the Lego community go down. Yes, I’m a lawyer, my day job involves helping the government recover money lost from banks that failed in the financial crisis. I’ve been a perennial volunteer/organizer at Lego fan events since BrickFest 2005, and if you ask around, you’ll find many Lego fans to whom I’ve offered free legal advice. The Lego fan community is a fantastic and tight knit group of people, and I don’t want to see it torn apart.
With the politics out of the way, please enjoy our regularly scheduled posts about fantastic creations!
Big news today, as LDraw has announced they’re suing Bricklink for copyright infringement. As The Brothers Brick’s resident attorney, I just have to say how excited I am. For years, the Lego fan community has flourished under a system of community spirit, with large projects being built together under Creative Commons (whether stated or not). It’s great to see that we’re finally moving towards a litigious atmosphere, where everyone jumps to claim rights to anything under the sun. We don’t all live in the Danish socialist utopia, some of us have bills to pay.
Read the full press release below, then click on over to LDraw to donate to the cause. I’ll be offering them my legal services, provided enough is donated to cover my fees.
LDraw sues Bricklink for copyright infringement
LDraw.org, a system of free software tools for modeling Lego creations
in 3D on a computer, is preparing to file a lawsuit against Bricklink
Limited, for copyright violation. BrickLink.com is a
venue for individuals and businesses from all around the world to buy
and sell new, used and vintage LEGO. LDraw.org is furthermore sueing
for trademark infringement, unfair trade practices and more, seeking
damages for willful infringement.
LDraw.org, known for its parts
library of over 5000 virtual representations of LEGO bricks, which is
under continuous maintenance and extension by the LDraw community since
1997, might have decided not to file a legal objection to the use of
images rendered from its library in the year 2000 when Bricklink
started business, but the organization isn’t ready to simply roll over
on the intellectual property front, either.
The LDraw Steering
Committee (SteerCo) decided to take legal action after Bricklink
Limited rolled out new Terms of Service in September 2013. Bricklink
appears to also be claiming the exclusive rights to the common naming
system for LEGO pieces, through threatening legal action to competitors
claiming: “you are using our unique numbering and naming systems for
the LEGO pieces”.
“It is evident that the online community of LEGO
fans supplied much of the data and images and continue to do so to this
day and that in the early days of Bricklink many names, numbering
systems and even images came from co-existing sites such as LUGNET,
Peeron or in our case LDraw” said Willy Tschager, member of the LDraw
The committee set up policies on third parties
capitalising on the considerable volunteer time, effort, and ingenuity
represented by the part library and the LDraw System, which give the
users almost total freedom in the usage of rendered images. “One thing
is making cash with the efforts of others, but claiming it is yours is
a total different story and we are going to demand to delete their
image and text contributions to the database which have been drawn from
LDraw”, Tschager said.
In addition the LDraw Steering Committee is
looking out for angel investors to back the lawsuit financially.
Donation can be made to Peeron.com as hosts of LDraw.org (a Paypal
Donation Button can be found in the top left-hand corner of LDraw’s
homepage). However paying tribute to the fact that LDraw.org is a
completely volunteer organization the SteerCo prefers workmanship
contribution, such as part authoring, parts reviewing, writing programs
or tutorials over financial return.