Plagiarism - What do you think

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Plagiarism - What do you think

Postby Robert Freemond » Mon Aug 01, 2016 1:58 pm

Plagiarism is a subject that I’ve thought about often.
Many years ago I attended Art school; while there the subject of plagiarism was discussed often.
You were expected to use what was being taught & then create something original with it.

Out in the world it’s also frond upon. In song writing, Literature, political speeches, Etc, It can cause quite a stir, but when it comes to Guitar building however - not a word.
In furniture making George Nakashima was a well respected designer/ builder. His work is often copied & passed off as original, but in Guitar making how many Fender, Martin, Gibson copies have we seen.

Are any of you Pro builders concerned with this, or Is this a concern that anyone considers legit.
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Re: Plagiarism - What do you think

Postby Peter Wilcox » Mon Aug 01, 2016 3:33 pm

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

I'm no pro, but I think the ethical thing to do is attribute an idea (or whatever is copied) to the originator. Even if this is not done, in the lutherie world, generally no harm done - until money is involved. Then, even if the idea is attributed, all bets are off and the legal sh*t hits the fan.

There have been a number of guitar design legal actions. http://www.premierguitar.com/articles/S ... ns_?page=1
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Re: Plagiarism - What do you think

Postby David King » Mon Aug 01, 2016 4:05 pm

There is a long tradition in the violin family of making copies, either to figure out how they tick or simply to end up with something you can actually sell. Whether you are making Strad copies or Gib$on copies you should be clear with yourself and your customers about what you are doing. Be true to the design and try to improve on the details. With a Gib$on copy you put up for sale you should expect a legalese "cease and desist" letter. This is Gib$on's legal team doing their job protecting the company's copyright. If you put out copies of a smaller builder's work, one who doesn't have a legal team you are quickly eroding their right to any future copyright protection. If you grew up in the era of "free music" downloads I doubt you will ever give a sh*t about anyone else's intellectual property until someone starts copying your design. So it goes.
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Re: Plagiarism - What do you think

Postby Steve Sawyer » Mon Aug 01, 2016 10:17 pm

From my limited knowledge of patent & trademark law, I would bet that companies like Fender & Gibson have trademarked their names and in the case of Fender, their headstock designs. Note that companies making guitars with a body shape almost indistinguishable from a Strat will have a unique headstock, and would never attach a name such as Les Paul, Firebird or Telecaster to their product.

I have no idea what the risk is for the independent luthier who copies the shapes of these guitars and sells the result honestly and ethically as a hand-built copy.
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Re: Plagiarism - What do you think

Postby Mark Fogleman » Mon Aug 01, 2016 11:29 pm

There are at least 10 Chinese companies selling copies of iconic guitars on the net. Not just the exterior design..they also have reproductions of the inlays, labels, 'Made in the USA' stickers, etc.
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Re: Plagiarism - What do you think

Postby Steve Sawyer » Mon Aug 01, 2016 11:53 pm

Mark Fogleman wrote:There are at least 10 Chinese companies selling copies of iconic guitars on the net. Not just the exterior design..they also have reproductions of the inlays, labels, 'Made in the USA' stickers, etc.

Counterfeit products aren't limited to ladies handbags! :)

It may be illegal but enforcement probably has many obstacles.
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Re: Plagiarism - What do you think

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:47 am

Given the ergonomic constraints of a musical instrument, it is difficult if not impossible, to come up with a unique design.
Almost every possible shape of body has been built, and rebuilt, and built again.
I believe someone on this forum said that headstock shape is the only thing that can be copywrited.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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Re: Plagiarism - What do you think

Postby Mike Conner » Tue Aug 02, 2016 6:00 am

The discussion rightly focuses on design. But one positive aspect of luthierie is the wonderfully open sharing of ideas, methods and knowledge by established "masters" and all the way down to newbies like me. There is very little of the trade secret protectionist behavior. This whole forum is a witness to this! The open exchange of ideas and experiences makes the craft so much more inviting to newcomers, and even experienced luthiers are sharing best practices, etc. Of course, most of this sharing is freely given, so I guess it would not be considered plagiarism. I personally strive to attribute any informative not original to me and my experience to the source(s) to ensure that recognition goes to the source.
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Re: Plagiarism - What do you think

Postby Steve Sawyer » Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:37 am

Provided you aren't trying to pass something off as something it isn't (like trying to "forge" a '59 Les Paul), lutherie is a bit like the blues or haiku. You have certain constraints that are required by the basic form, but then you creatively improvise within that framework. I might do a solo that throws together licks I might have learned from Albert Collins, Peter Green and Gary Moore just as I might build a guitar that pulls in elements from stuff I've seen from Fender, Gibson and Peter Wilcox - but the end result isn't plagiarism, it's a unique creation that uses a vocabulary to which others have contributed.
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Re: Plagiarism - What do you think

Postby David King » Tue Aug 02, 2016 7:49 pm

Body designs can absolutely be copyrighted, however you must actively defend your copyright for it to mean anything. Fender let that slide for a decade or two and lost their copyrights to their body shapes. Gibson spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars involved in many lawsuits over the years. One of the most notorious was the case against PRS guitars that you can read about here: http://www.leagle.com/decision/20041001 ... TARS,%20LP
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Re: Plagiarism - What do you think

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Sun Aug 07, 2016 6:55 pm

You can copy everything down to the last detail- except the name on the headstock. It can look like a duck and walk and talk like a duck, but if it doesn't say duck on the head stock, then it's not a duck. If someone really wants a duck, then anything you make won't satisfy them. That is probably why the big makers are less concerned with copies.
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