All Replies on Ok to sell projects made from purchased plans?

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View pashley's profile

Ok to sell projects made from purchased plans?

by pashley
posted 09-04-2012 10:41 PM

19 replies so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3695 days

#1 posted 09-04-2012 10:45 PM

I dont think that would be a good idea.

View ShaneA's profile


6952 posts in 2620 days

#2 posted 09-04-2012 11:00 PM

While I am not certain, seems I have seen some plans that say not to make/sell more than “X” number of them. But have no clue how it would be monitored or enforced.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3020 days

#3 posted 09-04-2012 11:03 PM

If not stated in the documentation of the plans, I would check with the publisher. They own the copyright.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3307 days

#4 posted 09-04-2012 11:07 PM

You may want to watch out for TradeMark infringement. The only safe way to handle that would be to ask permission directly from FWW., but don’t be suprised if they say NO! I could see where that could be a real legal nightmare if not handled correctly.

-- John @

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 3740 days

#5 posted 09-04-2012 11:09 PM

I could understand it being illegal to buy the plans, copy and sell them, just as you would, say, a DVD. You can’t buy a DVD and rip and sell copies. I’m just not sure about a design they put out there for the expressed purpose of being built. If it IS illegal, do you break the law if you build it, keep it for 10 years, then sell it? How long would you have to wait before it’s ok?

-- Have a blessed day!

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 3740 days

#6 posted 09-04-2012 11:12 PM

Which also raises the question of replica tables. I believe the copyright for written works (like a song or book) is 100 years; If I made a replica Limbert table which can be traced to 1920, am I liable?

-- Have a blessed day!

View AandCstyle's profile


3068 posts in 2279 days

#7 posted 09-04-2012 11:33 PM

I am not an attorney, but I think that if you buy the plans and make the project, it is your project to do with as you wish. If you buy a book or a car or plans, you have the right to sell it, don’t you? Making and selling something from purchased plans is a step removed from selling the item itself so I can’t imagine there would be an issue. However, having said this, it wouldn’t hurt to ask FWW their position on the matter. Of course, then you get into the question of how different an item would need to be to avoid any concerns on their part. FWIW

-- Art

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2936 days

#8 posted 09-04-2012 11:40 PM

”...Ironically, copyrights, which protect most manifestations of artistic design and expression, are available to protect sketches of furniture designs, and photographs contained in a furniture catalog, but do not provide much, if, any intellectual property protection to the physical furniture built based on the designs in those photographs. [Habersham Plantation Corporation v. Country Concepts et al, 209 U.S.P.Q. 711 (Ga. 1980)] Thus, an artisan is prohibited under copyright law from making a copy of a manufacturer’s own photo, but is not necessarily prohibited from recreating the piece of furniture shown in the photo, unless that furniture design incorporates some kind of sculpture work or graphic print embellishment that is in itself a design separate from the piece of furniture. This is what the law calls “conceptual separability.” Absent a plausible argument that the overall design of a piece of furniture can, in effect, exist by itself as a work of art apart from its functionality as a piece of furniture, copyright law is unavailable to guard against wholesale copying of the article. For example, an artisan cannot obtain copyright protection for a fabric-covered chair per se, but may copyright the design of the fabric that covers that chair or the elaborate sculpture work that adorns the back or leg of the chair ….”

What this basically means is that you can build and sell furniture from those plans. You just can’t label them / mark them / embellish them as being ”an original” XYZ Brand piece.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View MT_Stringer's profile


3172 posts in 3253 days

#9 posted 09-04-2012 11:43 PM

I guess I won’t have any problem because I can’t seem to make anything from someone else’s plans. In fact, I can’t make anything from my own plans without making changes. :-(

But I thought if you bought the plans from someone (after all they are selling them to you), you could do what you wish. Maybe I am wrong.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 3740 days

#10 posted 09-04-2012 11:46 PM

Well, HorizontalMike, that seems to be the answer. Thanks for chiming in!

-- Have a blessed day!

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2864 days

#11 posted 09-04-2012 11:49 PM

Mostly ever plan I’ve ever bought has somewhere on it in small print “you cannot make over “x” amount of items from these plans without written authorization from the designer”.
When you buy plans for woodworking, the people selling the plans know that a lot of people are buying these plans with the intent of making the item and attempting to sell the item. It’s a lot of wood worker’s dreams after all, to do wood work for a living. I think the small print legalese is simply to prevent anyone form legally doing something crazy, like setting up an assembly line and mass producing the item.


View MT_Stringer's profile


3172 posts in 3253 days

#12 posted 09-04-2012 11:52 PM

“I think the small print legalese is simply to prevent anyone form legally doing something crazy, like setting up an assembly line and mass producing the item.”

That hasn’t stopped the Chinese.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2864 days

#13 posted 09-04-2012 11:54 PM

Ok, I meant in the states where that small print acually means something that might get you a visit before a judge.
In China, violating this sort of aggreement only gets you a visit from whatever government official may want to take over the foctory.
Sorry for the mistake.


View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2509 days

#14 posted 09-05-2012 12:24 AM

I don’t know about anyone else but I have no problem with someone buying plans and selling the articles built from those plans.

In other threads here on LJ and elsewhere there are many references that the plans are never correct and must be modified anyway, negating the value of the copyright or trademark.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View bondogaposis's profile


4755 posts in 2373 days

#15 posted 09-05-2012 12:33 AM

The copyright generally protects the plans only. The intellectual property is the plan. If you copy the plans to sell you are in violation. Making furniture from the plans is the purpose of having them published and sold. Now if you were to open a factory and crank out thousands of pieces than that might be different. But as a small time builder and can’t see how anybody could go after you for selling a few pieces.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29380 posts in 2360 days

#16 posted 09-05-2012 12:33 AM

I could see if you built it exactly to the plans. However, I would bet most LJ’s will modify it to suit themselves to some degree. Once modified there is no infringement.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View toyinventor's profile


4 posts in 2051 days

#17 posted 11-07-2012 05:13 AM

Here’s my take from a slightly different perspective. I wrote Zany Wooden Toys that Whiz, Spin, Pop, and Fly and have had several people ask if they could make and sell the toys at craft fairs. I’m always honored that they like the projects that much and excited that more kids will get to experience the fun of a homemade, wooden toy. I can’t make it to every arts and craft show so go ahead and spread the fun. And if you’re really good at marketing and mass production of toys, then we’ll both benefit by working together rather than competing with each other.

-- Keep on inventing

View Ted's profile


2873 posts in 2233 days

#18 posted 11-07-2012 07:14 AM

Unless you agreed to terms stating otherwise, what you build is yours to do with as you please. If you want to play it safe you can always modify the build and say it was “inspired by” such and such design. Personally, I wouldn’t even mention where the design originated. Except for designer pieces and famous signature pieces, the customer is interested in the product and the workmanship – not who designed it.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 2449 days

#19 posted 11-07-2012 08:26 AM

I don’t care how masterful you are at your craft I have never seen anybody have the capability to “exactly” make or reproduce anything from a plan. Errors always creep in and this makes the article you crafted “yours” – So go ahead and make and sell as many as the market can bear.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

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