billyO

Taking others' ideas...is it OK?

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I find I have to agree with all the replies above, which is a little strange until one realises not all are deliberating exactly the same points. I would never deliberately set out to replicate anothers work (even if I did have the skill ) but certainly have taken inspiration from others example, One thing I had never considered until I read a few of the threads elsewhere on these boards was a makers mark, Pondering on it I realise I already have the materials and the tools, will shortly have the facilities and hopefully have the skills to produce myself at least one usable punch and use it with pride, Should I ever have an original idea, then if others "borrowed" it, as a hobby smith I would only be flattered, but I would expect to see their mark on it.

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Whenever you monetize a craft, unless it is a craft that you alone have developed (like induction ice sculpturing), this question comes up.

Whether it is writing a thesis, quoting statistics, creating a painting from a reference piece or creating a bottle opener, the footnotes count.
When someone says they do a Merritt, Braseal, or Reinhart  Style ______, they are giving credit to the author of their inspiration; which is right and fair.  This gives someone, who wants to search out the origin of that inspiration, a trail to follow.  If you do not, then it steals the opportunity from the client to follow the origin and path of a derivative work.  It steals from the inspiring the honor of that inspiration, and it steals the dignity of the one who claims it to be their own.

Copyright laws were intended to foster innovation by allowing someone to create something and gain profit from it without fear of someone capitalizing on their hard work to make that idea a reality.  Making a bottle opener is not a money maker.  It's a way to pay for your gas as you evangelize the virtues of blacksmithing.  If you develop a way of making that bottle maker, document it in a book and sell that book to blacksmiths, then the book is copyrighted.  If someone wants to get a copy, they need to just buy a copy.  Innovation, however, is not fostered when fear of retribution raises its head for those trying to learn a craft.  This is why we have created fair-use laws.  

I will copy another's work to gain inspiration.  The process of figuring it out is a particular challenge that I thoroughly enjoy.  I will be found at a demo, however, selling nothing but a few spoons.  Those smiths that are teaching me their different forgings are often with me, and they are selling those items they have taught me to make.  Nothing even similar will be on my table.  My works that I copy for inspiration will go to family and friends while I learn my trade.  I will  not take money away from those who are teaching me, and I am unlikely to make money smithing.  I am okay with that because that's not why I am there.  When I learn enough techniques to create my own non-derivative works, they will show up on my table and I will be proud to show any of the other smiths how I came up with it and puff my chest with pride.

Etsy is the same.  I won't put something on the Etsy table that I derived directly from another's work... but I sure as shootin' will copy their work to figure out how to do something cool and neat.  With those ideas storming around in my head, maybe someday I will make some mind blowing works.  Until then I will create my utensils... they are all that I have really created by myself... and even that was with the help of concepts taught to me by others.

Just my take,
/\/\  - Redbeard The Grey

 

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some things qualify as common knowledge.  Some things are intellectual property.  As an admin on the biggest blacksmithing page in the world on Facebook, I will say this.  We take a dim view on stealing someone's intellectual property, and if caught, we oust them with immediacy.  Many times, the difference between bankruptcy in this craft is the tenuous hold on one's intellectual property.  Copying someone's work to increase skill set is one thing, but vending someone else's intellectual property constitutes theft

That being said, if you forge something someone else designed, at least have the common decency to attribute the concept to the originator of it

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I've run across a couple of instances where a fellow claimed he originated something I could prove had been done 500+ years earlier---usually not maliciously; but they just didn't have the research library or travel to various museums in Europe to have seen the earlier "originals".  

I remember one fellow at the Knifemakers Guild Show 30 + years ago who was going to do a knife where the centerline was a gun barrel and shot the tip; he was quite surprised when I said "like the renaissance wheellock one from the Court of the Medici?..." (Arms & Armor Annual; Vol 1).  A lot of good ideas/designs have been explored over the 2000+ years of blacksmithing.

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this analogy is apt  Many years ago, when Woody Allen was first starting out, in his stand up routine, he had this joke.  "A bullet once saved my life.  Someone threw a book at me, and the bullet stopped it in my top pocket".  Myron Handelmann, another stand up comic, pawned Woody's joke off as his own on the Ed Sullivan Show.  The reason nobody knows who Myron Handelmann was is that after that, he was blacklisted from ever doing comedy again.  The same goes for stealing blacksmithing intellectual property

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Have you ever made your own fire? Did you discover it on your own, we use a lot of others ideas.  The big thing to remember is that if you have seen someone else do it befor you give them the respect and don't claim it as your own.  Or learn something from it and make it better.

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Have you ever made your own fire? Did you discover it on your own, we use a lot of others ideas

lets see, how about hammers, tongs, hammer handles, screw drivers, forges, anvils and the beat goes on.  if it isn't patented or copyrighted it's fair game, not necessarily to me but to the world.  If you want to protect your ideas do it correctly and completely or don't show it off.     

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I think you had better look into copyrights here in the USA You don't need to do anything to copyright an item save defend it!

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I feel that this profession has been around for ages, and how many people have worked in the craft, and how many things have they made? its so old that I feel its very rare for anyone to come up with something that is 100% original. so if you make something you didn't come up w yourself at least give credit to where it is deserved 

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hans138, I agree. It is hard to sell S hooks of your own design today. That said there is some stuff that I would recommend the average smith be aware of when they sell "original crafts." 

I was approached by a customer going to a harry potter get together and they asked me to forge an iron wand. Pretty much nothing more than a bit of 3/8 tapered off with a twist and a crystal held by some prongs. Apparently when she got to the party another individual was there with a similar wand and was mad because they thought that I had copied it off of their website. I got a call from this irate individual because I was encroaching on their customer base and they did not like it. We calmed the situation down and the conversation ended with both of us talking about doing some skyrim stuff together. I had the same experience from the other end when I saw one of the styles of rings I make regularly on a youtube video that I did not make. The assault in this case was directed at my shop and the person ended by saying how simple the rings were to make on your own and that you should probably make one yourself rather than buy it anywhere. (I personally know this individual and they were not happy when I told them I was making rings.) The moral here is original is so hard to claim and even in the engineering and product development legal world it's a mess. Just don't be a Troll about it. We live in a time where forums like this exist because the idea of trade secrets is lost out in favor of freedom of information and a sense of comradery. I go all over the united states and run into other smiths that get excited when a fellow klanginsmith walks through their door. We talk and teach and learn from one another and we (forgive the obvious pun) forge a bond of friendship that benefits both. I love adding the nails of other smiths to my post outside my door. Be courteous. Give credit where it is due. Tell your viewers and customers where you learned to make the item and how you adapted it to your style. People love stories and will probably buy more.

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If you don't want your work to be copied, don't put it on display or post it on the internet. You can attempt protecting it with copyrights if you have the money to go to court each time to protect the intellectual property. Worth while with things like music that sell millions. Hardly the case with a trinket that is only valuable in your own mind. 

The ethics of "inspiration" vs "copying" can be debated and the obligation of giving credit thrown in for good measure, but the reality is that if I make a gate and post it, I know I have given away my right to the design if I ever had one. 

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On 2/9/2018 at 10:07 PM, hans138 said:

I feel that this profession has been around for ages, and how many people have worked in the craft, and how many things have they made? its so old that I feel its very rare for anyone to come up with something that is 100% original. so if you make something you didn't come up w yourself at least give credit to where it is deserved 

The trouble with that, is I would have to put a disclaimer on everything I make. 

I don't take others design ideas, but then I also believe very few ideas I see on the internet are original.  I used to work of a guy, that after twenty years of making architectural ironwork, had a shelf full of binders with photographs of his work.  Less then 1% were ever posted on his web page.  I know a lot of smiths like that, they don't post more then a sample of what they've done.  What we see on the internet, is a very small fraction of the work that has been done.  Form, function, price, experience and the tools on hand will greatly dictate the end result.    And at the end of the day, smiths/artists working independently, will come up with remarkably similar ideas and designs

One thing I see that does mildly irritates me, is the credit I see some on this forum giving to someone for "original idea", for no other reason that this was the first place they saw it.  Facebook and Etsy posters are equally guilty.  I know one guy so upset, because people were "copying his work", he shut down his Etsy page, .  One of the items in question, was his copy (took inspiration from) of a 1000 year old piece at the museum of history in Stockholm.  He never acknowledged that he was copying someone else's work.  In his mind, because he was the first to put it on Etsy, then all others were copying him. 

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Way back when the Knifemaker's Guild Show was still in Kansas City, I met a fellow there who had an idea he was really proud of he was going to make a knife where the center ridge was actually a gun barrel and shoot the tip of the blade out----"Oh like the one shown in Arms and Armor Annual in the article "A Wheellock Dagger from the Court of the Medici"...He was really bummed out that "his" idea had already been done several centuries earlier.

What I try to tell folks is "Don't worry about being first, worry about being *best*!"

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Too many become complicit and expect a one time successful design to survive in a world market by doing the same thing over and over.
You constantly need to innovate and re-invent... improving your processes and tooling to become more efficient or cheaper, or adding a new twist to an old design to stand out from the crowd.

If you don't, someone else will build on the back of your success and surpass you. Not their fault you stood still.

Unrelated to blacksmithing, but we have 10% of our working week dedicated to un-managed R&D to make sure we can stay competitive, and have opportunity for new ideas to become realised as product innovations over time.

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5 hours ago, JustAnotherViking said:

Too many become complicit and expect a one time successful design to survive in a world market by doing the same thing over and over.

Yep, the first year I was on Etsy, I sold over 3000 RR spike bottle openers for $35 each.  When I started, I was the only one selling that flavor, now lots are and they're down to $15 each.  I won't go that low and moved on to making other items.

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