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Re: ldraw.org parts library (again)

On Mon, Dec 04, 2000 at 03:58:42PM -0600, Pat Mahoney wrote:
> For those who remember my old questions, no, it has not been resolved.
> Ldraw.org coordinates and puts together a parts library (of lego style
> pieces) which they distribute from their site.  The library is a self
> extracting exe which contains individual parts files in some 3d format
> or another (no, I really don't know what format).  These pieces are
> used by various programs to put together into lego models (leocad in my
> case http://www.leocad.org).
> There are several issues that I don't understand.
> 1)  Is this parts library copyrightable?  It is simply descriptions of
>     physical things that anyone can see and measure; it is discovered
>     data.  I've attached an email about this from the mailing lists at
>     ldraw.

No. Copyright restrictions apply only for creative works. Facts (like a lego
brick is 1" long by .5" tall by .5" deep) are not covered by copyright.

One might agrue that a lego brick is like a sculpture, and thus a creative
work restricted under copyright. However, that argument is flawed. A lego
brick very much like a masonary brick, and as such has a similar copyright

I also recall lego kits including parts such as gears, axles, and motors.
Mechanical drawings made of these items through disassembly and measurement
are no more restricted under copyright than models of the respective parts
in an automobile made through a similar process. Companies can (and do)
disassemble automobiles and take measurements in order to publish books that
include drawings and dimensions of these parts in order to aid in the repair
and rebuilding of automobiles.

Inventions, such as interlocking building bricks, gear assemblies, and
motors, are intended to be restricted by patents, not by copyright. It's my
understanding that lego's patent on interlocking toy building bricks expired
many years ago.

> 2)  Let's say it is copyrightable and has some license or other on it. 
>     I make a model (using the parts library) and publish it in 3d
>     format.  What is the relationship between my model and the original
>     library?  Is it considered a derivative work?  If enough 3d,
>     finished models were gathered up, one could theoretically extract
>     the pieces and recreate the original parts library, circumventing
>     any license on the original library.

Drawings of buildings intended to be built from lego bricks may be covered
by copyright just like drawings of buildings intended to be built from real
bricks. However, no copyright applies to the individual bricks.

Even if the part sets turn out to be restricted by copryight, one might
argue that the different types of lego bricks are like glyphs in a fontset.
Even if a fontset is restricted by copyright, documents typeset in that font
are not considered to be derived works of the typeset.

I'll leave the rest for someone else to answer.

Brian Ristuccia

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