when is a canoe design a new design?

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alick burt
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when is a canoe design a new design?

Post by alick burt » Sat May 12, 2012 9:55 am

Hi folks
Now that I am nearing the end of my third canoe I got to thinking I might like to design the next one myself.
Then I thought How do I know that I am not infringing somebodies copyright?
I mean i don't intend to make a canoe that is radically different from most other designs I have seen but what happens if the shape is such that it say has a bow like a prospector a bottom like a peterborough and in the middle its like a redbird.(not that this is what I intend to make but you see where I am coming from!) What are the legalities?what defines the dividing line between one design and another? :thinking
Cheers
Alick.

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Patricks Dad
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Re: when is a canoe design a new design?

Post by Patricks Dad » Sat May 12, 2012 4:56 pm

You might be over thinking this one. Unless you are going to mass produce the new design and make a gazillion dollars from the venture, I think you can pretty much do what you want as long as you aren't blatantly copying an existing design. You won't end up in court with a judge trying to decide which notes sound like someone else's song.
Randy Pfeifer
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aliguori
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Re: when is a canoe design a new design?

Post by aliguori » Sat May 12, 2012 8:12 pm

Hi,

US law is complicated for stuff like this. I have no idea about UK copyright/IP law. But I think common sense and morality are more important than legal specifics here. There aren't a lot of designers out there making wooden boat designs for hobbyists. Supporting them is more important than what's legally right or wrong. If that means buying three designs instead of one, that's what I'd suggest doing :-)

That said, there's a few different concepts that are worth mentioning here. Copyright strictly deals with copying and distribution, not with what you do personally in your home workshop. In other words, copyright only kicks in if you attempt to give someone else your design or sell the design. If you base your work off someone else's work, then you've created a derivitive work and derivitive works are still subject to copyright protection. Whether it ever changes so much as to not longer be a derivitive is an extremely complex subject..

But copyright is more specific than people probably think it is. A specific blue print is subject to copyright. Measurements of a canoe are factual and therefore wouldn't likely be subject to copyright. The measurements expressed in a lofting table may be copyrighted though. A good example is cooking recipes. An ingredient list cannot be copyrighted, but a cook book can.

There is also a concept of a design copyright. This could conceivably apply to a canoe although I have my doubts. This is an exceedingly complicated topic though. If you're interested in the details, google for "furniture design copyright". You'd have to talk to a lawyer about whether a canoe could qualify for design copyright I think.

The other thing to consider are the statements that some designers put on their blueprints and/or books that say something like, "you can only use these plans to build one canoe." This is an additional contract. It's orthogonal to copyright. In the US, there is the concept of First-sale Doctrine which may trumph these kinds of restrictions but it's again, a fairly complex topic.

It's probably best to just use common sense and err on the side of supporting designers as best as you can. Really, the cost of plans is so small relative to the cost of building a boat--why not support the designers as much as possible.

When I started my second canoe, I bought another copy of Canoecraft. As an added bonus, I can now keep one copy in my shop and one inside :-)

alick burt
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Re: when is a canoe design a new design?

Post by alick burt » Sun May 13, 2012 6:20 am

Thank you for your replies Guys
It sounds like I may have opened a can of worms but with a large portion of common sense in it.I won't be making a gazillion dollars or pounds as I currently am only making one boat a year in between my other work.
Cheers
Alick

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Moonman
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Re: when is a canoe design a new design?

Post by Moonman » Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:35 pm

Hi Alick,

I think I agree with Randy on this one. I only see an issue (legally) if you are blatantly copying a design. Even then, if it is for personal use, perhaps its more a moral issue than a legal one. If indeed you are taking design cues from 3 or more boats and combining them into something new, I don't think you are doing anything wrong, legally or morally. Also, no way you can get the waterlines exactly the same so for sure it will be a different boat, performance, displacement and handling wise. I've often wondered about builders who take lines off a hull to loft up plans and build a boat. What if there are no published plans to buy, and you are only building the boat for personal use? Is this wrong or a grey area? What if you don't take lines, just sort of 'wing it' by eye, is this the same as taking lines, which would almost be an exact copy? What if its an old design, say 50-100 years old? Maybe the designer only wants one boat out there or the design was created specifically for one company etc etc. I know the kayak builders regularly discuss this and in almost all circumstances really disapprove of taking lines for a 'new' boat, although it seems this is more for guys claiming to have designed a new/almost new hull design, and then wanting to sell them...

In any event, if its a combo of design cues from several boats I can't see it as an issue, especially if not being done for commercial reasons. If its basically a copy of an existing design, I'd be inclined to send a cheque to the designer, even if I took the lines off an actual boat - although I'm sure the designer might be surprised, especially if there are no published plans for the boat!

Moonman.

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