LDraw to sue Bricklink for Copyright Infringement [April Fools]

[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
Steering Committee.

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.

19 comments on “LDraw to sue Bricklink for Copyright Infringement [April Fools]

  1. Daisho

    I seriously hope this is a joke, because on every April fool’s day on Brothers Bricks I’m a sucker for this kind of news.

  2. Dave

    Even if this is meant to be a joke its not at all funny. You just come off as a greedy two bit lawyer completely representing the stereotype to a tee. “I’d rather see the lego community rip itself to shreds squabbling over concepts and designs and make money from it if they can.” Again probably a joke but a very tasteless unfunny one.

  3. RoscoHead

    Would’ve been more believable if you’d got the Ldraw boys to add the story to their front page :)

  4. IronBricks

    I love how you included the statement. Being interested in law myself, this is quite funny. :D

  5. GBCTom

    Ya got me. I was ready to post a slam on all the school yard brats for allowing such a thing to come about. I guess this is what makes up a good April Fool’s Day joke these days. I could have done without the adrenaline rush and associated rage…

  6. Zayden

    I’m not sure this is the kind of joke to be running today. Though I understand the Bricklink’s updated TOS did ruffle more than a few feathers.

  7. am

    I agree this post was a bit distasteful, but it wasn’t anymore distasteful than bricklinks change in terms of service which inspired this satirical post. I for one would fully get behind an effort to sue bricklink for copyright infringement. I am not entirely happy with the direction the new overlordship of bricklink is taking, and I don’t think Daniel Jezek would be either.

  8. Mnemonyx

    I’m not sure “tasteless” is the right description, but it’s close. Not really all that believable (is Ldraw even a legal entity?) and not really all that funny to me.

  9. 4estFeller

    You got me at first! I should have been expecting something like this, but you yep you got me. :D

  10. fallentomato

    I also totally fell for this. This is so much better than the past April Fool’s Day jokes that have run here, which have been transparent and empty. This is biting satire on par with the best Onion articles. Well done!

  11. iorun

    Nice joke.
    But if it’s true. Pfft – no need of LDraw trash, Bricklink must use Lego part numbering or other simple resources – it is so obvious.
    LDraw -who the f… are they.
    ”We don’t all live in the Danish socialist utopia, some of us have bills to pay.” – ha ha, nerdy.
    Lego is a hobby, it is meant to be fun.
    Go learn your lazy a.. to work and then pay your bills.

  12. Magnus

    I fell for it at first and started figuring out it was AFD joke by the end.

    I guess the big scary question is whether this is something that could actually happen. In which case, it perhaps isn’t so funny.

  13. condor

    ^^ It already did happen. I believe BL sent out a cease and desist letter to another marketplace because they were using the same naming and numbering system.

  14. Mnemonyx

    Dan says: “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.”

    Perhaps, if that is an important purpose, then it shouldn’t have been framed within a joke? It may be that the intention is to use the joke to draw attention to an important issue, but the outcome may well be that people dismiss the serious issue as an April Fools’ Day joke.

    Please: Both jokes and serious issues seem to have a place in The Brothers Brick, but make the jokes funny, and address the serious issues seriously.

  15. Dan Post author

    Mnemonyx, you make a fair point about keeping the content separate. At the same time, I wonder if as many people would have read and commented on a post about bricklink TOS, as were drawn to the sensational news provided by the folks at LDraw. I’m really not sure, but I thought LDraw’s message was worth supporting.

Comments are closed.