Insperation, influenced, copied .....or Stolen?

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Forum topic by idahosawdust posted 05-16-2010 08:11 PM 1563 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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52 posts in 2371 days

05-16-2010 08:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Where is the line drawn in the sand as to whether a design or project idea is used as inspiration or just flat out copied/stolen? I imagine there is an imaginary line on some continuum that is subjective at best? I see all the time “G&G” inspired, Maloof inspired, FLW (Frank Loyd Wright) inspired and the list goes on. If I were to sell this as inspired i would assume it is okay, but to sell something inspired by a contemporary craftsman, say, Thomas moser I might find my self in a heap of trouble. (Skilled craftsman by the way but not my style)

What about projects and designs based on projects seen here on LJs?

I am not in a position in my life where woodworking would be a “job”, but i would like for it to be a hobby that pays for itself so that i can buy more materials or even a nice tool occasionally.

Any discussion on this would be helpful. Thank you in advance.


-- Making piles of incorrect measurement at a time!

10 replies so far

View Chris 's profile


1877 posts in 3409 days

#1 posted 05-16-2010 09:20 PM


I would suggest reading through this forum series:

I think the answers in that post will address a lot of what you are asking…

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 3233 days

#2 posted 05-17-2010 12:31 AM

There are very few “new” ideas in the world. If you copy something, it’s copied. If you do something in the same style, such as G&G with tenons and steps but make it from your own dimensions and proportions, then it’s inspired by.

Heck, alot of this “old world art” was done by the masters apprentices anyway. As far as I concerned if you aren’t deliberately copying something dimension for dimnesion then go for it. If you go to woodworking school and come out making a living doing exactly what you were taught, does the teacher deserve a commision on everything you make. Not hardly.

Unless you are deliberately trying to steal business from a current stylist with “the same stuff only cheaper” I wouldn’t worry too much.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2373 days

#3 posted 05-17-2010 02:53 AM

did you check out this thread covering some intellectual property law basics?

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 3546 days

#4 posted 05-17-2010 03:02 AM

When I make something that is a copy of someone else’s design, that’s inspiration.
When someone makes a copy of my design, that’s theft.

-- 温故知新

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3008 days

#5 posted 05-17-2010 06:17 AM

Randy….LOL, good one

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View idahosawdust's profile


52 posts in 2371 days

#6 posted 05-17-2010 07:36 AM

Sorry to resurrect a horse that has obviously been beat to death already judging from the size of those two threads

Randy …. lol

Chris…thank you for the post

uffitze… thank you as well for that link after reading that thread i need to go run my hand through the TS to wake up.

so pretty much as long as i am not profiting on contemporary artisans designs (again not a fan of contemporary wood working) and as long as i post something like …... yadda yadda yadda inspired by FLW every thing is cool. or i might say i was lurking on Ljs and saw a project that i thought was cool…this is who made it …but i used it solely as inspiration to build my project

-- Making piles of incorrect measurement at a time!

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2373 days

#7 posted 05-17-2010 08:25 AM

The practical matter is that as a hobbyist, you aren’t putting your work out there for the general public to see, so the copyright/patent holder is unlikely to see the work and go after you. I suppose that by posting a photo of the work, the copyright/patent holder might see it, and if they are really litigous, they might come after you. But, I would expect that is extremely unlikely.

Also, considering that FLW died 50 years ago, I would operate under the assumption that his heirs still hold the copyright on his work. But, I’m not a lawyer, so what do I really know.

And, personally, I consider this to be an important topic, so I’m happy that people are thinking about it.

View TreeBones's profile


1826 posts in 3441 days

#8 posted 05-21-2010 04:42 PM

I have made many projects inspired by members here and I’m sure that none of mine come out like others. I sell my work and most all of it is unique and I call it original. I hope that my projects will inspire others and as long as no one competes directly with me I hope they can make a few bucks. I dont know of anyone getting rich from woodwork but I am sure there are a few.

Integrity is not an option, its a necessity. Everyone deserves a chance to earn a living.

-- Ron, Twain Harte, Ca. Portable on site Sawmill Service

View TheDane's profile


4930 posts in 3081 days

#9 posted 05-21-2010 08:32 PM

I think a good example of ‘inspired by …’ is Kevin Rodel’s version of the Taliesin Desk. I don’t know how Rodel came to create the Taliesin Desk, but one thing I can assure you is that if the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation had even an inkling that Rodel had done something improper, they would have taken swift legal action.

Frank Lloyd Wright formed a foundation in 1940. When Wright died in 1959, ownership of the Taliesin estate in Wisconsin, Taliesin West in Arizona, Wright’s archives and School of Architecture were all passed into the hands of the foundation. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation still owns them, including the intellectual property rights.

BTW … if you ever have a chance to visit to Taliesin, it is well worth the trip to Spring Green. Just don’t try to take any photographs or measurements!

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Wood_smith's profile


252 posts in 2443 days

#10 posted 05-22-2010 01:24 AM

...and be very careful about hollering at others for copying your stuff! (blush…mea culpa)... oh well, we learn by our mistakes!

-- Lloyd Kerry; creator of the Kerry-All Pouch,

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