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Topic: Tried to do the right thing, but something feels wrong. Please advise/HELP  (Read 1466 times)
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« on: December 06, 2010 01:30:07 AM »

So I joined up with a couple of other guys and we are trying to spread to the mostly unaware/uncaring Indian public that reduce/reuse/recycle/refuse can make a huge difference. One of those things was repurposing old soda bottles.

Now, I've found pictures of lovely lamps made out of soda bottles that have been converted into strips and I would love to replicate those. I shoot an email to the U.K. artist who made these lamps, asking her permission to try and replicate these lamps because

1. They are terribly easy to make.
2. They are incredibly lovely.
3. They leave very little unusable bits of plastic.

Now she has refused to give permission to let me replicate these (for sale to the public I might add) even though, in my eyes, we pose no competition to her, being way out here in India and we would link back to her and give her full credit for idea and design. Just to clarify, I haven't asked for her designs, nor her methodology regarding the making of these. I'm not asking her for anything except the opportunity to replicate these the way I think they can be made.

This seems a bit... off. Recycling is a wonderful thing and the more people get enthused and adopt it, the better. I really want to make these (if not to sell, atleast show people how these can be made so that they reuse the soda bottles, not throw them away) and I feel that this woman is being a bit... exclusive to say the least.

Am I in the wrong here? Please give me some advice, I really do want to do the right thing.

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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2010 02:42:12 PM »

I have no idea how the UK handles design copyrights or internationally, or if she can do anything about you way over in India. You might start looking around their website http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/design.htm. I can't blame her for saying no, but she may or may not be able to do anything about it. Once a product is in the market, there will be folks out there doing the same thing, for better or worse.

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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2010 09:22:03 PM »

Thanks for the link. I'll definitely take a look at it. Smiley
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2010 09:42:18 PM »

It was probably not such a good idea to ask her about this.  It seems like the right thing to do at first, but then you have to consider that lamps out of soda bottles is not exactly a unique idea; it could almost be considered obvious.  Then factor in the fact that a lot of craft/art types have some strange ideas about what they own.  When you look around here, there are people doing things like writing tutorials on how to draft a pattern, and then saying that you can't sell anything made from "their pattern."  [sarcasm] Because obviously, if you follow someone's instructions for making your own pattern, they own that pattern.  Nevermind that you're the one who actually made it, since they told you how, they now own your mind and anything that comes out of it.[/sarcasm]  Would that mean that once I've read someone's instructions for how to make a pattern, I can never, ever sell anything of that sort, because no matter how many books I read on pattern drafting, I may still end up using an idea I picked up from the instructions of someone who didn't want "their pattern" used for anything that might be sold?
And the people most protective of "their designs" tend to be the ones who are knocking off smaller brands themselves, as with the DVF fiasco.  http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/theampersand/archive/2009/04/23/copycat-style.aspx
When considering recreating something you've seen, the first two things to consider are whether or not it's a completely original idea that you're seeing, and then whether or not you're actually even knocking of the other person's product anyway.  You're not talking about trying to make exact duplicates of this other person's work, are you?  You're talking about using a general concept.  Of lamps, recycled from soda bottles.  Probably with your own flair, your on aesthetic, your own personality added..
Don't use somebody else's trademarks, and don't directly copy someone else's work.. but also don't get sucked into believing that if someone has done something, they must own anything similar, because that's just not the case.  And don't get sucked into believing that if you make something, you own the idea, either.  There are eight BILLION people in the world.  You own your own work, and can own things that you actually invent..  but useful items out of recycled trash?  Doesn't that sound like a pretty silly claim?

« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2011 07:13:33 PM »

A lamp is a utilitarian object, and by US copyright law, can not be copyrighted. As far as I know, in the European Union. You could take the exact same object, change it in a minuscule way, and register it as your own unique creation. I'm not sure how international copyright law gets interpretted, since you'd be producing and selling in India, but I say go for it. I seriously doubt that you'd have and repercussions from her end.

I would make a point to remove any logos from the bottles before you create the lamps though, those are the big boys you do not want to cross.

Hope this helps. PS - I would love to see pictures when you make one!!

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