1. Copying kits is a crime that hurts original artists & producers. Help support your favorite artists by buying their original works. PlanetFigure will not tolerate any activities related to recasting, and will report recasters to authorities. Thank you for your support!

Ethics of buying pirated out of print figures

Discussion in 'Report Piracy' started by Bailey, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. Pilgrim_uk Active Member

    Of course its morally/ethically wrong and you can condone all you want but it wont change anything. To be realistic its about money to the consumer. Some people cannot afford the prices on figures and it doesn't make them a bad person just peoples circumstances.

    People are morally/ethically flexible they might do the right thing in public but in the privacy of their own home is another matter.
  2. Blue Thunder A Fixture

    There are here several brilliant thoughts to remember forever! :)

    I would like to focus this sentence from Colin that really tells a story on it's own:

    Colin and Theodoros are absolutely right: we condemn piracy in the sense of duplication, but heck ... how much companies such as Andrea growth in the past with figures endorsing Hollywood blockbusters and all time favorite Comic super heroes?

    So, if one has to condemn piracy, then the correct path is not only to avoid illegal duplications, but unlicensed, therefore illegal figures as well. To this I call coherence. And some manufacturers may dislike this, while others will aplaude.

    But this issue turns out to complicate more as well. You see, regarding the Warriors figure, is it based in what?

    If I was the sculptor I would simply say. "I based my work in my own research. Look please Don":



    "And you? Did you just imagined the character or did you researched it as well? What images did you use? The one with the hat is certainly suspicious" :)

    "hey but both hands are on the hat"

    "artistic licence, my friend artistic licence ... it's not inaccurate, it's the body in action to give more interest. You see, that posed shot was too static. And you, why did you did exactly the same? Do we share tastes?"

    So who copies who :)

    One thing is copying ... a completely different story is gathering information

    Another question raises here: Figures characterizing personalities like Verlinden General Norman Schwarzkopf have to pay royalties to the characterized person?

    In the airplane arena an even more absurd case occurred. A decal firm released decals for a P-51 Mustang labeling them with a name more or less like this: "emorous lennis" flown by "Huck Eager". Precisely to avoid copyright issues.
    Theodoros likes this.
  3. old grumbler Active Member

    I remember the Troiani case and thought at the time it was mean spirited hysterical petty bullying. After all most hobbyists loved his work and he was riding high on a popular wave with limited edition prints and books. I remember too people flinching when discussing it, it left a sour taste in the mouth, not clever at all. I often wondered if Troiani actually realized how small this hobby is and how an action like that would destroy a manufacturer. I mean the intention wasn't to 'rip off' the painter. Why he couldn't have just spoken with the manufacturer lord only knows. He diminished somewhat in many peoples eyes after it. Some tried kissing his arse I believe after it and attempted to bring him into the fold which was I guess laudable. I for one was turned off his work completely because of it. He well and truly pissed on his own doorstep .
    crf and callum like this.
  4. Gaudin A Fixture


    Heh, that's precisely what I was thinking. Bring in that zombie photographer to present his claim to Don Troiani. Everything is pilfered one for one, but "hey, I changed the hands, am I not original?"
  5. Martin64 A Fixture

    The "Troiani-case" was in a way special because for the first time - at least for myself - it brought up the problem of copyrighted two-dimensional depictions that were turned into unlicensed three-dimensional "copies" within our small hobby market. What is missed by some people acting like Mr. Troiani is that most of the companies that are producing these copies for our petite market are run by people with a love for the hobby/fellow hobbyists and that they do not make millions out of their sales. They usually create a miniature out of a painting/movie character because they love the historical subject/story behind. A customer who wants to build and paint the product gets more likely interested in the painting/movie as a reference and will take a look for the painting/book/ film while spending his bucks. If Mr. Troiani would have allowed more high quality figures from his paintings to be produced most probably the sales for his books and paintings might have increased.The licensed ERTL-figures were so bad that they surely did not have that effect.
    Nevertheless the argument that Mr. Troiani copied photographs by himself is pointless in my eyes because his painting shows General Gordon wearing boots and this exact pose and uniform in the painting was skillfully "copied" into a beautiful miniature.

    IMHO the legal debate about copyrights does not always make sense within our market and is more about making money and less about ethical reasons. Take a look at the rubber rims of the 1/35 scale German tanks from Dragon: They display the logo of the producer "Continental" in crisp detail as "Continentau" so that the modeller can scrape away a portion of the "misspelling" and can save the royalty fees that would otherwise lead to a crazy prize tag he would have to pay. So everybody who demands that every figure of a filmstar or else needs to be licensed should never complain about increasing retail prices.... the "ethical correctness-enhancement kit" for models is usually not for free:)
    Cheers, Martin
    crf likes this.
  6. Richie A Fixture

    Hi All,

    Just stumbled on this one, not knowing all the technicalities of the copy right laws, my question is - why don't figure companies put the copy right mark on their products! (by that I mean the box). I have just looked at some of my figures I have recently purchased (and yes they are all legit) and I cannot see this on any! Is this purely down to cost?

    Some other hypothetical questions I have - if I use some stock parts whether in or OOP in one of my heavily converted models or use these on a scratch build and that model is now unrecognisable to anything on the market and looks unique, would I be able to replicate it and sell it? After all I have used someone's parts. Does this happen?

    If I have an OOP model and I wanted to copy a part(s) for my own use or to alter, is that allowed? Is that not breaking the copy right law? It's just like recording an album as previously stated and we've all done that one.

    What about models that have been released and renamed to get round this mine field, couple off the top of my head is the Sean Connery Knight, Russel Crowe Navy Captain - we all know who they are and what films they are from - well on the face of it that looks like blatent copy right infringement to me! But we all condone that and praise them, is that one not double standards on our part?

    Just like to here you thoughts on my questions.

    Actually my Black Army Models bust has literally just been brought by the postman and that has a copy right mark on the box.


    Not sure it costs anything to add a copyright symbol to a box or model and even less sure it will do any good as it would not be respected by those who forge the copies.

    renarts likes this.
  8. Gaudin A Fixture

    I think it is happening more than we realise - especially with weapons. It is generally frowned upon by sculptors, but it is happening. Most of the parts are not unique and it would be impossible to prove exactly where they came from - if you haven't seen the master.
    As a sideline - I know a few stunning custom made works that had head done by one sculptor, rest by another, the piece would win a competition but the head sculptor never gets any credit.

    I think it costs nothing to add a symbol- but it would cost to add your figure to copyright databases so that symbol actually means something. Otherwise it isn't enforcible - and its just a symbol.

    Reality is that its next to impossible to prosecute some one in China or deep Siberia , that's why companies don't bother, just try to make best sales as quickly as its released.
  9. Don Well-Known Member

    I was always amazed that Troiani, when in his sueing mood, did not sue both the Federal and Southern Armies for interfering with his paintings.

    peedee, Grod, Helm and 4 others like this.
  10. renarts Active Member

    Copyright and intellectual property is a muddy cavern of twists and turns. Laws change almost daily and there are staffs of lawyers that make a comfortable living off of this subject. You can copyright something by simply putting a copyright symbol on the item. The copyright is assumed at the moment of its creation. This protects your property but at best only allows a cease and desist or ex parte, it does not allow for damages. For that you must register the copyright and that can be expensive and very time consuming and take up a great deal of material. Something smaller companies don't have the resources for.
    It is also a matter of whether or not the copyright holder has the resources to pursue the issue. The onus is on holder to prove damages. (i.e. loss of income, etc) There is also the murky area of derivative works and how they influenced the new piece. Also does this affect the holder and is there a direct affect on the holders property.
    I run into this alot in my field and routinely research copyright, trademark and intellectual property rights. When I reach a wall, I usually take my notebook of questions to a copyright lawyer and spend the money for an hours consulting and go over as many questions as I can before the hour is up. I have on occasion stumped the pro and gotten some more out of him, but its so convoluted that the best rule of thumb is if it exists, someone owns it and the rights to it. Proceed from there. If it has the taint of Disney, Lucas, or Universal on it....run, don't walk away. They like to make examples of people, small or large. Their establishment of the precedence of fear is a tried and true tactic.
    In some cases, you can approach an artist and simply ask. They may just say ok. In the case of Troiani, it was a derivative work of a property of his that he was interested in protecting. While the semantics of whether a sculptural rendition of his 2 dimensional artwork was fair game, in that instance a court agreed with him that it was. Another judge on another day may not have agreed. Regardless, he felt it was his to protect and like it or not, it was his call to make. If it cost him your adulation then that is his burden to bear. Much is the pity.
    Ironically, because of the internet, copyright laws are undergoing an overhaul that will have long and far reaching effects. Length of, areas covered, extent of derivatives, intellectual property details and entitlements have all been put to the test and as a result laws have been tightened up. In some cases this was pushed along by larger companies desiring to maintain their rights to something so they lobbied for, gained and changed the laws. A good example was the length of protection was changed because of Disney's properties of Mickey Mouse and a few other characters were due to expire, making them up for grabs if someone could claim them. Imagine Mickey Mouse as public domain......yeah, the empire would have none of that....They pushed for and had the times extended considerably. Internet downloads, software and the global coverage have since made it necessary to change international laws and extend treaties with other countries for reciprocity of rights either through law or treaty. The result is a whole new level of crazy. i.e. Apple's lawsuit on their copyright of a shape.....yeah, that's a special kind of crazy. If it lead to anything it was that nothing is safe. And if the pockets are deep enough and there is enough to be gained, don't be surprised if you see a challenge to even the most innocuous seeming detail on an already presented copyright holder. If they want it, a company will get it. Even if it means camping a staffer out to challenge a copyright to see if there is a response. If not it can be assumed that the original holder is abandoning his rights and its up for grabs. So just copyrighting something doesn't mean its safe. Its just provides guidelines so to speak. You have to be able to defend it. If there is a dime to be made, be assured, challengers will come out of the wood work.
    A good rule of thumb is if you see it and want to make a profit off of it and you didn't create it, then somebody owns it and don't be surprised if they come knocking on your door looking for their piece of the pie.
    If someone has the resources to find the guy knocking off their work, go to his country and look him up and ask for your piece of the pie, all the power to you. Frankly, I'm not interested in going to some shithole 3rd world country to find a guy all so I can sue him for 3 chickens and a goat, if I can get the local magistrate to hear my case and hope they have a reciproctiy deal with the US on copyright in the first place. A good ol fashion beat down in some of those worldly jewels may get you shot by a local militia or just the cops. Frankly I don't think they'll let me work on figures in a jail as I'll be too busy avoiding the game of hide the soap for punching the local police chiefs son for pirating my work.
    Use common sense. If it seems to good to be true, don't buy it. If you know its a pirate piece, its your conscience. You live with yourself and face your figure world friends either by looking them in the eye or down at their feet in shame. The decision is yours and what lets you sleep at night.
    Tecumsea and valiant like this.

    Are you sure this got to court? It was my understanding that it was never adjudicated.

  12. renarts Active Member

    Based on my conversations with others I had assumed it had. If not, then I stand corrected. And thanks for the enlightenment. I hate to think I was perpetuating a "figure urban legend" ;) Regardless, outside of the adjudication, the point is it was his intellectual property and certainly within his purview to bring it to that level if he so wished.

    As for the question of ethics of buying a pirated piece, within the context here, it is wrong. Simply because others are profiting from someone else's work and not compensating that individual for the original piece. I say wrong in this context simply because we accept the definition of ethics as referring to the well founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what we as a society (in this case the figure painting/production community) ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits, fairness and specific virtues. On the other hand, being ethical may not be the same as following the law. The law only incorporates ethical standards to which most citizens subscribe and are subject to deviation. As a result laws sometimes are counter to what can be considered ethical. Also, being ethical is not the same as doing what ever society accepts. In any society, most people accept standards that are in fact ethical. But standards of behavior in society can deviate from what is ethical.
    In the case of figures and in regions where there is a considerable amount of piracy, there is an accepted standard that this is ok. It is part of the accepted business environment and because of lax enforcement or even no enforcement or laws it becomes an acceptable practice. The question of ethics then falls back to the purchaser. If there is a market, are there business ethics? We all want to go after the counterfeiter, but everyone ignores the crime of the buyer.
  13. Babelfish A Fixture

    Have to agree. This is the first I've heard of this case but to my mind, petty-minded and mean-spirited pretty much sum it up. I won't be able to look at Troiani's work again now without this coming to mind. And no way would I lay out money to line his pockets after finding out about this.

    - Steve
  14. Tecumsea PlanetFigure Supporter

    "Creativity is undetected Plagiarism"............... I was once told by a famous Advertising Agency
  15. Gra30 PlanetFigure Supporter

    I read this with interest and have heard of the said case, it also brings to mind the Ainsworth and Lucas case which although upheld in the US was thrown out of court within the UK.
    But to bring it back to us smaller fish and figure painters and modellers, unless the master or said figure is owned and permission has been given by the sculptor, then they are the ONLY people that should produce such a figure.
    Yes it does get technical when going down the idea front, copying pose and picture etc and in theory 3 manufacturers could produce the same figure at the same time and if the same sources have been used then in theory they all will possibly appear the same.

    If they are all casting off original sculpts then they fair enough. The initial question was about buying recasts, I can say now as a buyer of masters and manufacturer, if you buy cheaper from a recaster we, the small companies will not be around long.

    A person may take it upon themselves to think the product is out of production but with the turn around of new figures being so vast who is to say that the proper owner is not pausing or sitting on them in rotation.
    Do you think the recaster will be there to commission new pieces in our place when we are gone ?
    Gaudin likes this.
  16. Mark S Guest

    Well I for one am very aware of how flexible I am in the privacy of my own home these days....unfortunately I'm not as morally flexible as I was in the Seventies.
  17. Mark S Guest

    Keith!, have you just creatively plagiarised that quote from a famous advertising agency, without being detected??!!
    peedee likes this.
  18. Gaudin A Fixture


    No , no, the quote was appropriately attributed to FAA:ROFLMAO:

Share This Page

planetFigure Links

Reviews & Open Box
Buy. Sell & trade
Link Directory

Popular Sections

Figure & Minis News
vBench - Works in Progress
Painting Talk
Sculpting Talk
Digital Sculpting Talk
The Lounge
Report Piracy

Who we are

planetFigure is a community built around miniature painters, sculptors and collectors, We are here to exchange support, Information & Resources.

© planetFigure 2003 - 2019.