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LEGO Photography Esty Shop

Hi LEGO Lovers! I just wanted to announce the opening of my new Esty shop that has lots of awesome LEGO photography products. I sell prints, mug, pens, personalized sticky notes, and more! Thanks for letting me share! Come check it out at
https://www.etsy.com/shop/SnappyBrickPhotos
or on Redbubble
http://www.redbubble.com/people/snappybrick/portfolio
Thanks and have an awesome day!


Comments

  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,274
    Not sure about Etsy but I know on Spoonflower the LEGO lawyers crack down on similar IP infringement so expect a cease and desist for at minimum the stuff using IP for LEGO Movie figures and HP figures. Possibly for all those using actual minifigure images.
  • SnappyBrickPhotosSnappyBrickPhotos USAMember Posts: 3
    Thanks for the response. I have been researching the legalities of photography a lot and trying to figure out if LEGO will be cracking down on any of the LEGO photography or similar products.The LEGO website states that as long as it is clear that LEGO does not endorse the site, you don't use their logo or the name LEGO in your shop name, and follow a few other rules then it's okay. If it weren't okay to have a product in a photo then clothing or cars or buildings or shoes or anything recognizable would be illegal to sell. Here's a quote from the LEGO website addressing this issue:
    "Use a Disclaimer
    A disclaimer should be used when the LEGO trademark appears on a Web page. An appropriate disclaimer would be "LEGO®is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site"." They have lots of other guidelines to follow that I'm sticking to as well.
    I think the fact that LEGO offers this disclaimer shows they are cooperative with their products being used in certain situations as long as you are not claiming to be an official site or anything like that. I'm definitely trying to stay comply with all their IP guidelines. I know a lot of POD sites or stock photography sites just won't go near anything trademarked, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's not legal.
    I'll let you know if I get a cease and desist notice because there's lots of LEGO photographers that would benefit from more specific guidelines in this area.
    Thanks!


  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 13,734
    edited March 2016
    You aren't selling their product though, you are taking photos of it and selling them.

    You are using their copyright figures to make your products. I doubt anyone would buy them if they were not images of genuine lego. 

    Read page 10 of the fair play brochure in this link ... http://www.lego.com/en-gb/legal/legal-notice/fair-play

  • MattsWhatMattsWhat Studley, UKMember Posts: 1,634
    edited March 2016
    I didn't post to this originally because I don't like to be the one to rock the boat, but you said...
    If it weren't okay to have a product in a photo then clothing or cars or buildings or shoes or anything recognizable would be illegal to sell.
    This is not the same at all.. incidental inclusion of other objects such as clothes, cars or buildings is not even close to what is happening here.  And any pictures of specific objects such as cars (or Lego) are very much protected by copyright when the image is being sold.  If you want to look at examples where it is a bit more obvious (but no different) then consider selling images of a painting.

    Here's a quote from the LEGO website addressing this issue:
    "Use a Disclaimer
    A disclaimer should be used when the LEGO trademark appears on a Web page. An appropriate disclaimer would be "LEGO®is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site"." They have lots of other guidelines to follow that I'm sticking to as well.
    I think the fact that LEGO offers this disclaimer shows they are cooperative with their products

    That disclaimer has nothing to do with products - it quite clearly states it is about use of the trademarked brand name (Lego).  And not only that, it states for use on a website, which is not what you are doing.  Selling images for profit is a long way beyond me putting the Lego logo on my blog and adding a disclaimer. A long way.

    Whether you get a cease and desist or not, what you are doing is an infringement of copyright and therefore by law it is illegal.  You are not the only person doing it on RedBubble or similar sites, nor do I particularly care whether you carry on or not.  But you can't pretend that it is OK because you have done a bit of reading - it really isn't.

    The fair play brohure referenced above demonstrates why even the banner at the top of your store is probably not allowed, but the products you have for sale takes it far beyond simply a fair play issue. (Using Lego minifigures in an advert such as the banner could damage their brand, selling pictures of their copyrighted minifigures for profit is worse that that)
  • caterham7caterham7 UkMember Posts: 164
    edited April 2016
    And doesn't Lego policy mention somewhere you can't refer to them as Legos?

    http://www.redbubble.com/people/snappybrick/collections/506465-legos
  • SnappyBrickPhotosSnappyBrickPhotos USAMember Posts: 3
    It's an interesting discussion for sure. I think if it's okay to buy a LEGO and resell it for profit then it should be okay to sell a photo of the same LEGO that you own. There's lots of shops and forums and places to sell LEGOs that are obviously not endorsed or authorized by LEGO. So it's interesting that people don't get worked up about me selling the actual LEGO but if I photograph that same LEGO and sell the photo then it's clearly a violation of copyright. I'm not claiming to have designed the LEGO, be endorsed or affiliated with by LEGO, but I am obviously using their product in my photography. It really is the same as if I photographed a row of shoes or a row of minifigures or a stack of books. It's not an incidental inclusion, but that doesn't make it illegal.  Of course if LEGO were to send me a cease and desist and they felt that I'm violating their rights then I'll stop, but hopefully they understand that I am a huge LEGO fan and if anything am showing my support for them and how awesome they are! It really is a difficult grey area for photographers and it mostly seems to depend on the company. Specific car companies don't allow it, but others do. So far I haven't found any stories of LEGO being against it, but if they are then I'll stop. Thanks everyone!
  • mr.pigglesmr.piggles Snow FortMember Posts: 318
    The issue I see, because I used to work in IP, Trademarks and Licensing and have worked a lot of contracts and hashed out a lot of fees in my heyday, is that you are using their marks and protected images for your own profit without recompense to TLG, and additionally creating and selling products that TLG themselves might make and sell, or products of a quality that might besmirch the image of TLG. Companies don't give out their identifying information for free and don't particularly like it when people use it for profit for free, without strict use guidelines, etc.
    As a photographer, I understand what you're trying to say, but it really is not the same as if you photographed a row of shoes or a stack of books because you are not going to put those shoes on merchandise, and that merchandise could not be construed as being from the company itself. In this case, I would look at your products more like the knock-offs coming out of Asia instead of art prints that a photographer has made of say, shoes in a shop's window. 

    So, really, it's apparently a moral quandary, but I do not see it as such. If you were to take a photo of Coke products, slap it on a notepad, and sell it, you would be infringing Coca Cola Co's rights. If you were to paint a likeness of that can, you would not be. If you take a photo and slightly digitally alter it, you might still be infringing. See: Shepard Fairey and his Obama Hope poster for a case related to this. At least in your case you're probably so low on their radar you'll never get that cease and desist and you can go on justifying your shop.
    DeMontesMattsWhat
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 13,734
    There is a clear difference between selling something you own (once) and taking photos of it to sell in unlimited quantities, often on products that are in competition with LEGO's.
  • PhoneboothPhonebooth UKMember Posts: 1,355
    It really is depressing how negative this forum has become.  

    I applaud the OP on trying to do something creative and make (some sort) a living off it. 

    There are are so many people doing Lego photography - if you don't believe me, sign up for Instagram - but it's not hurting anyone. 

    Lego got the sale. They are not losing money. 

    Where did all the encouragement go from Brickset memebrs?
  • YodaliciousYodalicious DagobahMember Posts: 938
    ^ I saw this thread in a completely different way. Those that responded to the original poster are not being negative, they're being informative. While some of it may come off as negative, they're trying to inform the individual to be careful because of what is being produced and offering up some examples of experiences they have had in the past or things they have heard. I don't believe there was any negative intent, but more providing some cautionary tales.

    As for just doing LEGO photography, that's very different than photographing LEGO and then selling the photograph. I'm not saying I know much about IP, trademark, copyright laws (as a marketing/brand professional, I actually do, but only a little as it concerns my own organization's trademarks)...I'm merely saying having an Instagram account where you post pictures you took of LEGO is very different than producing products to sell which include pictures you took of LEGO.
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,274
    Looking at instagram has nothing to do with selling a harry potter lego pencil case.
  • MattsWhatMattsWhat Studley, UKMember Posts: 1,634
    edited April 2016
    @phonebooth Is it negative that people are having a go at people selling knock off minifigs right now in a different thread? Or is that OK? Because its basically the same thing. (in both cases lego are both losing money and suffering damage to their brand) 

    As for comparing selling a used set and selling a copyrighted image, there is not only no comparison, there is quite a lot of precedent from law to make that argument redundant. If you own something, a set or an original image, you are entitled to sell it. If you don't own something, like Big Ben or a copyrighted image, unsurprisingly you are not allowed to sell it. 
  • PhoneboothPhonebooth UKMember Posts: 1,355
    MattsWhat said:
    @phonebooth Is it negative that people are having a go at people selling knock off minifigs right now in a different thread? Or is that OK? Because its basically the same thing. (in both cases lego are both losing money and suffering damage to their brand)
    Nope.  I hate that knock-offs exists and people are misrepresenting FAKE products as Lego.  'Lego compatible' BS....  This is blatant stealing of IP --> IP that someone spent a long time researching, developing and implementing.  I report it every time I see it.

    Now Lego photography - or ANY photography for that matter - is the ownership of the photographer.  This person is spending their time and energy to create something.  Often times this means production costs, lighting, time, processing, materials and marketing.  More importantly, this person is spending their mental efforts on setting up neat scenes that will resonate with the viewer.  As such, the material is their's.

    If you couldn't sell photos... we wouldn't have paparazzi.

    Now if someone was blatantly ripping off images from the internet, say, directly from Lego, I would have a serious problem with that as I suspect TLG would as well.

    But ultimately the point is this:  the OP was simply sharing his/her work, not asking for a breakdown of the business model.  A select few forum members seem to make it their point to post on every thread telling OPs what they should / should not be doing. 

    Every. Single. Day.

    And I am 100% not OK with that.

  • MattsWhatMattsWhat Studley, UKMember Posts: 1,634
    edited April 2016
    OK, so if I started a thread selling fake minis, thats OK to complain because it infringes Legos intellectual property.  I assume by the fact that I took a minifigure (that I may have bought) and made a copy of it.
    But if I take a photo of the exact same intellectual property and then print that onto an item it's OK to sell and everyone should be happy?
    I'd like to point out that there are legitimate mechanisms for doing this (so the books such as this can exist) and that there is also using a minifigure in an image such that it isn't the main focus or at least is in a situation of your own construction or selling just an image rather than merchandise - let's call these legal and at least ambiguous situations.  This is neither of those, it is nothing but the minifigure on items that Lego themselves sell (such as pads).  It is exactly the same as the copied minifigures, infringing on the same IP, and people therefore came to voice disapproval and warning.  Rightly so.

    I agree that people slating others opinions on thread gets old, but this isn't that.  The OP advertised something here that as close as you can get to being illegal so people said something - not quite the same, in my mind at least.

    I would like to point out that the OP could have contacted Lego and asked if it was OK, or for permission.  I assume this wasn't done as they would have said no and no money could be made - why else would you not ask for clarification when he actually said he only thought it was probably OK.
  • PhoneboothPhonebooth UKMember Posts: 1,355
    edited April 2016


    @mattswhat - if you have a professional background in IP, please state your credentials. You state that you're allowed to post because it's illegal.  Is it?  Prove it.

    If this is the case the I will happily join the side that's aiming to restrict creativity and restricting new ideas.  

    Otherwise it's simply your opinion, one of many that the OP was not soliciting in his/her post. if anything, your posts are restricting the potential sales and thus could be consider defamation. 
  • MattsWhatMattsWhat Studley, UKMember Posts: 1,634
    edited April 2016
    I didn't say I was allowed to post because it was illegal, I just said that's why people posted.  You can be annoyed about it if you like, but you said it annoyed you when people posted whether someone should or should not be doing something.  I posted that I didn't care if he continued or not if you read carefully, and continued to post because I notice that despite being told otherwise the shop is still open and I wouldn't want people to buy anything from it in the same way you don't want anyone to buy a knock off minifigure.  I hope that I have restricted potential sales to be honest - maybe that will help stop other people doing it in the future and pushing the price of my Lego sets up as Lego have to spend more money protecting their IP.

    As for my credentials - thats irrelevant, it's the internet - I can be a IP lawyer for all it's worth stating it here.
    As for proving it is illegal - I only said it was close (most likely to get a cease and desist on such a small scale) but the point is you appear to be well aware that minifigures, and the printed designs on minifigures, are copyrighted (you even claim to be annoyed when they are copied).  Photographs using the copyrighted material require permission of the copyright holder to be sold (and you can check that out however you like to see if it is made up).  This, however, applies to selling photographs and photographs only.  I'm fairly sure that Lego would give permission for that, they have in the past hence the example I gave.  But Lego themselves sell merchandise with images of their copyrighted material, such as pads, pens, frames, waterbottles, clothing etc.  It would seem very unlikely that Lego would give permission for this kind of item to be sold without receiving royalties, what with them losing sales and such - and no permission was even sought in this case.  Without that permission the OP is indeed breaking copyright law.

    You claim that I am restricting creativity and new ideas but I think you might have missed my point - I never said that people shouldn't take photos of their Lego sets (this is being creative). I simply said that someone shouldn't sell something that infringes copyright - if you think that infringing copyright is creative then I'm not really sure if you understand what IP actually is.  By definition, it is using an idea that isn't yours, not having one of your own.
  • YodaliciousYodalicious DagobahMember Posts: 938
    This is not to be negative, condescending, or to discourage the original poster that has set up this shop. It's only to say...

    Posting a photograph of LEGO, selling a photograph of LEGO, and putting a photograph on LEGO on a mug or notepad to sell it are all DIFFERENT THINGS.

    If I create a t-shirt with a sports team's logo on it and try to sell it without permission, that's an issue. I'm taking a trademarked item that isn't mine, slapping it on something, and selling it for personal gain. Now, if I take a photo of that logo and do the same thing, it doesn't suddenly make it okay.

    Here in the states, there are issues that pop up from time to time when high schools take professional sports team's logo (or other company logos) and change the colors and use them as their own logos. There are plenty of situations where the high school received permission first and it's okay. But there are many more where they didn't and the professional team sent a cease and desist. It occurred just a few years ago where a high school was the Rams and used the Dodge Ram logo for their sports team. Dodge told them to stop. Plenty of people were up in arms because of the big, bad corporation picking on the little, friendly high school. I, on the other hand, agree with what Dodge did. That logo is their trademarked property. They had it created for them and own its rights. Regardless of who it is, people can't just use it for themselves. Companies should be able to protect their interests in cases like this without the general public immediately shouting "LEAVE THE LITTLE GUY ALONE!" Many companies are perfectly willing to play ball with the "little guy" if he were to just talk to them first.
    mr.piggles
  • legomyeggoslegomyeggos Member Posts: 22

    not to be negative...but I think most (or all) of the people on brickset would rather buy a minifig than a picture of a minifig...

    and as a suggestion to the OP...if your gonna take pictures of minifigs...at least get the pictures of rare ones...

  • danstraindepotdanstraindepot Member Posts: 148
    I'm curious, and I agree with these posts, but would it be OK to take a photo of a large MOC that a person created themselves, and then sell images of that?
  • MattsWhatMattsWhat Studley, UKMember Posts: 1,634
    edited April 2016
    So although the brick is trademarked, an arrangement of bricks wouldn't be covered by that. You'd be OK with that situation provided you didn't make a big fuss about it being lego (using the logo etc.) In fact it would then be covered by copyright so you would be able to stop other people selling pictures of your work. 
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 9,984
    I think taking pictures of LEGO falls under the "fair use" act. I think the problem lies in usinf the LEGO Brand on any of the items you are selling. I also believe "Friends" is protected. I also don't think you can used licensed items; like Batman and Superman. The "Brick Bible" is a good example to use. As far as I know, there are no copyright laws being violated and LEGO seems to be ok with it. Playmobil, on the other hand, had a problem with a priest using Playmobil toys to depict scenes in the Bible. The priest also used Playmobil in the name of his book. 

    I am not an IP lawyer, so I cannot comment exactly on what laws, if any, are being violated here, but I do not think the comments are negative. I feel that any post that anyone makes in this forum is subject to scrutiny. If one doesn't want ANY feedback, positive or negative, then one should not post. I feel the same way about Facebook and Twitter. If you are going to post something, be prepared to get feedback, whether you want it or not :)
    MattsWhat
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 531
    If truly interested in what LEGO thinks about the site and products, the way to find out would be to contact LEGO and ask them. They might not reply at all. They might send a cease and desist letter. Only way to find out is ask them. I suspect they would not approve, since LEGO does sell products that compete directly with some of the items being sold. I'm not a lawyer either, but I do know that in the US, being right makes no difference if the other side has money for lawyers and you don't.

    SnappyBrickPhotos, I took a look at your sites, and you do have some nice looking products. But you don't have the LEGO disclaimer on the etsy main page, and it is way down at the bottom of the other site, easily overlooked. If you decide not to contact LEGO, you might want to make that disclaimer a bit more prominent, and lose the "s" on LEGO.
  • WatfordScottyMWatfordScottyM Member Posts: 322
    Unfortunately I have to agree with the majority of posters here.  I have no idea of the legality, but at least from a moral perspective I would be uncomfortable selling those products.

    You are entirely trading on the brand awareness and customer base that Lego have built up.  I very much doubt anyone will buy any of your products because they are lovely sticky notes or mugs, but more because they are Lego branded.  Unless you have some original IP, which isn't owned by someone else I think you're on dodgy ground.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,762
    It really is depressing how negative this forum has become.  

    I applaud the OP on trying to do something creative and make (some sort) a living off it. 

    There are are so many people doing Lego photography - if you don't believe me, sign up for Instagram - but it's not hurting anyone. 

    Lego got the sale. They are not losing money. 

    Where did all the encouragement go from Brickset memebrs?
    Are you for real?  You CANNOT make a living off of a multi-billion dollar company's IP... especially when you include the superheroes, and make it several multi-billion dollar companies IP.... it's not a matter of IF... but WHEN.... corporate lawyers come knocking at his door.

    There have been a LOT of well meaning suggestions on BRICKSET about his endeavor... and no one has been rude or unkind.  They're not a bunch of dream crushers here.

    He's only basing his belief on what he's doing on a NARROW interpretation of IP and what constitutes that.  If he spends $20,000 of his money and gets that knock at the door telling him he cannot sell those items.... perhaps you can pay him for his troubles....

    I am 100% OK with that!
    WatfordScottyM
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 1,762
    edited April 2016
    Here is an example of a LEGO related idea that does NOT infringe on TLGs IP....

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hdready/the-qlib-your-ikea-shelves-get-a-beautiful-lego-ma

    I think this is a great idea, does not go against LEGO policy, and I wish them well.

    P.S.  I am no expert on IP.... but I have had interaction with LEGO Legal on my LEGO Collectors Guide, and will so again very soon on an even larger project.
    aldredd
  • calumheathcalumheath Member Posts: 12
    Thanks for the response. I have been researching the legalities of photography a lot and trying to figure out if LEGO will be cracking down on any of the LEGO photography or similar products.The LEGO website states that as long as it is clear that LEGO does not endorse the site, you don't use their logo or the name LEGO in your shop name, and follow a few other rules then it's okay. If it weren't okay to have a product in a photo then clothing or cars or buildings or shoes or anything recognizable would be illegal to sell. Here's a quote from the LEGO website addressing this issue:
    "Use a Disclaimer
    A disclaimer should be used when the LEGO trademark appears on a Web page. An appropriate disclaimer would be "LEGO®is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site"." They have lots of other guidelines to follow that I'm sticking to as well.
    I think the fact that LEGO offers this disclaimer shows they are cooperative with their products being used in certain situations as long as you are not claiming to be an official site or anything like that. I'm definitely trying to stay comply with all their IP guidelines. I know a lot of POD sites or stock photography sites just won't go near anything trademarked, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's not legal.
    I'll let you know if I get a cease and desist notice because there's lots of LEGO photographers that would benefit from more specific guidelines in this area.
    Thanks!


    You couldn't be more wrong.

    No matter how much you try to bend the truth to fit, you can't sell photos of somebody else's IP for a profit.

    I am a photographer and am under no illusion that it's not OK to do this, the rules are very clear.

    As for photos of brands, nobody said it was illegal to photograph them, just that you have no right to sell those photos for profit. Why do you think stock photography websites insist no brand names and trademarks be visible.

    As someone else has pointed out: it's the LEGO content that carries any sort of value for your product - you have no right to sell that.

    You might sell a few bits and pieces (if you haven't already) but there is no long-term future to this, regardless of how you choose to interpret the rules.
    Pitfall69
  • calumheathcalumheath Member Posts: 12

    MattsWhat said:
    @phonebooth Is it negative that people are having a go at people selling knock off minifigs right now in a different thread? Or is that OK? Because its basically the same thing. (in both cases lego are both losing money and suffering damage to their brand)
    Nope.  I hate that knock-offs exists and people are misrepresenting FAKE products as Lego.  'Lego compatible' BS....  This is blatant stealing of IP --> IP that someone spent a long time researching, developing and implementing.  I report it every time I see it.

    Now Lego photography - or ANY photography for that matter - is the ownership of the photographer.  This person is spending their time and energy to create something.  Often times this means production costs, lighting, time, processing, materials and marketing.  More importantly, this person is spending their mental efforts on setting up neat scenes that will resonate with the viewer.  As such, the material is their's.

    If you couldn't sell photos... we wouldn't have paparazzi.

    Now if someone was blatantly ripping off images from the internet, say, directly from Lego, I would have a serious problem with that as I suspect TLG would as well.

    But ultimately the point is this:  the OP was simply sharing his/her work, not asking for a breakdown of the business model.  A select few forum members seem to make it their point to post on every thread telling OPs what they should / should not be doing. 

    Every. Single. Day.

    And I am 100% not OK with that.

    Phonebooth: regardless of what YOU are and are not OK with, you can have your own opinions but you can't have your own facts.

    The fact is nobody is allowed to sell photos of LEGO for profit - what don't you get about this?
    Pitfall69
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 3,743 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 9,984
    My wife is a photographer as well. A little while ago, she saw one of her pictures on a website advertising baby clothing. She wasn't concerned because it was just one photo, but I can understand someone like Anne Geddes getting upset and filing a lawsuit over someone using her photos without her permission. 
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