Other Open-Source Licensing

See you at SXSW 2016!

Thanks to your votes, New Media Rights is heading to SXSW interactive in Austin, Texas. On Tuesday March 17th at 2:00PM in room 5ABC of the Austin Convention Center we’ll be presenting our panel “Can We Just Play? The Legality of Let's Play Video”.

Let's play videos are more popular than ever, however, for many creators what's legally okay and what isn't is more unclear than ever. Come learn the basics of copyright and trademark law that you need to know to keep your videos and streams up. Also get a chance to hear from legal experts and video creators about hot topics like Easter Egg Videos, Esports and using in-game music.

Joining Art and Teri will be Wikimedia Legal Counsel and lifelong gamer Jacob Rogers, as well as Angelo Alcid attorney and writer of the Journal of Geek Law.

So if you'll be at SXSW come check it out! Don't have a badge? No worries! SXSW gaming is open to the public so if you happen to be in Austin and are willing to brave the SXSW crowds come on by! If you can’t make it, you can follow our panel on twitter using #NMR.

NMR launches law school IP and entrepreneurship clinics list!

As we've written about before there's a major justice gap when it comes to creators and entrepreneurs having access to critical legal services. While we do our best to provide free and low cost legal services, we’re only one organization. That's why we’ve created a national list of law school legal clinics as a resource to creators, entrepreneurs and even other lawyers to help find other legal clinics fighting to fill the justice gap. The clinics on the list typically provide completely free or low cost services depending on if you qualify and they have the capacity to take on new issues. Check out the complete list here.

 

Today we join more than 90 organizations in asking President Obama to open up taxpayer funded educational materials to the public

Today, New Media Rights along with a broad coalition of more than 90 education, library, technology, public interest, and legal organizations, called on the White House to take action to ensure federally funded educational materials are made available as Open Educational Resources (OER) that are free to use, share, and improve!

Legal issues that arise from creating a 3D file using only a computer program

Do rights exist in a CAD or STL file made using a computer program?

Copyright: Maybe. Copyright protects a work if it is an original creation that is fixed in some tangible form. Computer files are considered tangible under copyright law, so that’s one requirement checked off. But what counts as an original creation?

  • Creating a file of a nail, and only the nail would may not create a copyrightable work because nails are useful, unoriginal, and not copyrightable.
  • Designing an object in a CAD file that is entirely original (remember, it doesn’t necessarily have to be unique just original to you) would likely create a copyrightable work.
  • Designing a file that contains an original object design, plus some separate unoriginal design, then only the parts of the file with the original design would be subject to copyright. However unlike a scanned file, a CAD file would likely be a derivative work, that is something based on a creative work that puts that creative work into a new format (for example a movie based on video game). The rest of the file would not be subject to copyright. For example, if someone designed a CAD file containing an artistic bust of themselves, plus a run-of-the-mill box for it to sit upon. They own the file to the extent it relates to the bust, but they do not own the part of the file that relates to the box design.

Patent: Simply creating a file of a patented object would not be an infringement of the underlying patent. However, sharing that file or using it print out the patented object would.  Keep in mind; this does not exclude the creator from having a copyright in the file.

Trademark: The only way a creator of a 3D-printable file will have rights in the file under trademark law is if the creator already has a trademark that happens to be included in the file. This does not exclude the creator from having a patent or copyright in the file.

For more information on the legalities of using trademarks in 3D printed works legally you can check out our “3D Printing trademark basics."

If you are including a trademark you don’t own and don’t have permission to use, and are going to share it with the public, you probably want to check with an attorney about whether or not your use of the trademark is permitted.  This is the type of issue New Media Rights may be able to assist with, so please use our contact form if you’d like to request assistance.

So if a CAD or STL file is protected by copyright law… what exactly does that mean?

Copyright law protects the creator’s right to copy, modify, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, and create derivatives of the original work. Copyright infringement occurs when a person copies, modifies, distributes, publicly displays, publicly performs, or create derivatives of the original work without permission. Below we explain what each of these rights is and what infringement of those rights might look like in the 3D printing space. That said, there are some ways to legally reuse another’s copyrighted work , including using works in fair use, which you can read more about on our 3D printing copyright basics page.

Also as a general note, these descriptions only address files that are copyrightable. Files of useful objects, as explained above, are for the most part not subject to copyright so they will not be discussed in this section.


Copying: Making a copy of a 3D-printable file you don’t have the copyright to violates the creator’s copyright. However, copying useful elements of those same files would not violate copyright law.

Let’s use the standard bed frame with an artistic headboard example again. A person could copy the entire CAD file if given permission to do so by the copyright owner (i.e. the person who created the headboard). This would not violate copyright law. Please note that because of the way computers work, “cutting and pasting” is actually considered making a copy.

Distributing: Distribution of a copyrighted file occurs when it transmitting it to a third party (i.e. emailing a file to someone or sharing it via a thumb drive.) This type of digital distribution by its very nature also results in making a copy of the file.’ Thus sharing a copyright protected CAD file via a thumb drive with a friend, without permission from the files owner would be considered copyright infringement.

Modifying / Creating Derivatives: Making a modification to an original copyrighted file creates a derivative work. Thus modifying a copyrighted CAD file without permission would be considered copyright infringement in many cases.

However, not all modifications result in a derivative work. Copying and modifying the uncopyrightable useful elements from the original file would not create a derivative work. Let’s use the file of a standard bed frame with an artistic headboard again. You could copy the standard bed frame into your own file, but alter the dimensions to lengthen the bed frame to fit a taller person. This new file does rely on the original file, but it is not a derivative because the bed frame design is not copyrightable on its own.

Publicly Displaying: In theory, a CAD file could be publicly displayed. There is no set number of people that need to be exposed to the file for it to count as “public”; though it certainly needs to be displayed to more than one person and beyond a group of friends and family. For example, let’s say there was an art exhibit that consisted of nothing more than several big screens showing CAD files of creative designs with no additional commentary. This would be a public display of a CAD file. Without getting permission from the copyright holder of the files creator, this art exhibit would be considered copyright infringement.

If someone prints a 3D-printable file (assuming they didn’t create the CAD file), do they own any the rights in the printed object?

It depends. Simply printing a 3D-printable file adds nothing to the file or object, thus 3D printing an object won’t create any new rights under copyright, patent or trademark law.

That said there are some limitations on what a person can do with the object. A few helpful tips to remember:

  • If the file wasn’t purchased outright and only a license to use the file was purchased (much like a song on iTunes) the terms of the contract will govern.
  • If the file was under a creative commons or other open license. Then the terms of the creative commons license or other open license will govern. The key thing to watch out for here is if the file was licensed under a creative commons non-commercial license. If this is the case, selling items printed using the file is not allowed.
  • If the item being printed is a functional object, like a spoon, without any creative elements the person printing the object would own the object. With the caveat that if the file infringed another person’s patent, you might own your copy but that copy would violate the patent owner’s patent.

If you have any other questions regarding 3D printing and the law please don’t hesitate to contact New Media Rights via our contact form.

NMR joins USA Doing Archives' discussion of copyright and the law surrounding digital archive projects

Ever wondered how copyright and other laws affect the work that archivists do? Here at NMR we’ve helped our fair share of archivists; so we were happy to participate in Doing Archives first Hang out On Air at New England Archivists Spring 2014 meeting.  We joined Christopher Felker, creator of Doing Archives as well as Henrik Mondrup from Aalborg University Copenhagen and Heather Nodler a law student at Georgetown and former archivist for an informative discussion on the current state of archives and the law.  Missed the live hangout? No worries, you can find a recording of the entire thing above.

Also if you an archivist, academic or scholar; New Media Rights is here to help with your legal questions. For more information, check out our “Services We Provide Page” we made especially for you!

NMR Testimonial - The Dark Mod (Broken Glass Studios) - Stealth Gaming in a Gothic Steampunk World

We're thrilled to announce that one of our clients, the Dark Mod Team at Broken Glass Studios, recently launched the standalone version of their wildly popular open source game, the Dark Mod! Here's is a testimonial from the Dark Mod Team about how New Media Rights helped them launch their game. The Dark Mod is a completely open source, free to download and play game created by hundreds of dedicated volunteers all over the world, and bills itself as "Stealth Gaming in a Gothic Steampunk World."

It's an example of the best kind of collaborative creativity the internet enables, bringing to together, artists, designers, and programmers from across the planet to create something for the public.  Here's a quote from the Dark Mod

"In our case, they went into significantly more detail in gathering all the information and aspects of our specific issues, doing hard research on all the legal issues potentially raised, and then packaging it all into a weighty brief that not only answered our most pressing questions, but also was written in a practical way we could actually use as working developers.

NMR is in the business of assisting digital artists in getting their creations to the world in the right way. There are so many complex issues out there, that by itself the simple desire to do things legally and properly isn't enough. We need guidance. And as my original searches confirmed, I couldn't find any other group that was even looking at the questions we needed answered except NMR, to say nothing of a group willing to offer free assistance in meeting our goals, to say nothing of going to the great lengths NMR went to do it. NMR did all of these things."

Click here to read their full story of how New Media Rights helped the Dark Mod.

New Media Rights invited to participate in Copyright Office panels considering potential small claims system for copyright law

In 2012, the U.S. Copyright Office began a process of considering creating a small claims court or system for small-scale copyright disputes.  This would affect the internet users and independent creators New Media Rights assists significantly.

New Media Rights has been invited by the Copyright Office to participate in hearings taking place November 26 & 27 in Los Angeles on the topic.

Executive Director Art Neill will be participating in panels discussing potential remedies and appeals, constitutional issues, and benchmarks for success of such a system.

A video to our community: Big news about our future!

We want to share some big news about the future of New Media Rights and make a few simple requests of you.

Click here to watch the announcement
Click here to watch the video!

We recently finalized a partnership with California Western School of Law.  We’ll still be providing the same quality one-to-one legal services and educational guides for internet users and independent creators, but now, as part of the California Western community, we’ll be able to expand what we do more than ever before.

We’re really excited to be part of the California Western community. The broader internet community will benefit from the increased availability of free and reduced fee legal services, and Cal Western Students will get real-world experience in internet and media law.

We are still completely independently funded, so please support us in starting this partnership off on the right foot

Click here to donate now!

Join New Media Rights in signing the Declaration of Internet Freedom to uphold basic rights in the digital world

New Media RIghts has joined a broad, international coalition of civil society groups calling on elected officials to sign the new Declaration of Internet Freedom and uphold basic rights in the digital world.

We encourage you to read and sign the Declaration, and encourage your elected officials to sign it as well.

 

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