I was hoping to make a very short post about this but that is beyond my skill.
I am building a LowRider2, which I bought from V1 Engineering’s shop, and I want to modify it. How might I modify existing parts or create new parts for it? How might I engineer, or reengineer, parts or objects generally?
This led me down several rabbit holes, long impassioned forum posts, YouTube videos etc. I believe I have found the answers to my questions. If you have different views, please comment but please support those comments with facts or references.
Reasoned debate is asked for: no one needs another flame war.
I would like to reengineer an existing part. Can I do this? What restrictions are there?
In the UK (and elsewhere but not everywhere) you are permitted to do anything that you like unless there is a law that prevents this. If I want to copy a part, the laws that might prevent this are copyright and patent (and related intellectual property rights), in addition I might be granted a licence to do something otherwise not permitted.
Note a licence only works where something is restricted in the first place (copyright, patent) and that the licence grantor is the person or company that owns the restricted thing. I can grant you a licence to dig up my neighbour’s garden but that licence is meaningless.
It’s your responsibility to defend your intellectual property (IP) and to take action if someone’s used it without permission (known as ‘infringement’).
Examples of IP infringement include when someone:
uses, sells or imports your patented product or process
uses all or some of your work under copyright without your permission
makes, offers or sells your registered design for commercial gain
uses a trade mark that’s identical or similar to one you’ve registered
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/License “In particular, a license may be issued by authorities, to allow an activity that would otherwise be forbidden”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright “Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copies of a creative work, usually for a limited time.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent “A patent is a title that gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period of years in exchange for publishing an enabling public disclosure of the invention”
Legally Copying/Reengineering Things
First, decide what, if anything is owned by someone else:
- Is there a valid copyright (copyright only extends to artistic works and, weirdly, software, databases and web sites)?
- Is there a valid patent (generally only for inventions)?
- Are there other protected intellectual property rights (e.g. trade-mark)?
If none of the above a true, then I can copy the thing. If there are restricted item(s), then I can still copy the thing provided that I remove the restricted items(s) from my version (e.g. by removing someone’s logo).
If any of the above is true, is there a licence that I can be granted ? If yes, then I can copy the thing.
Imagine that I want to reengineer this: Ass Saver - Bicycle Mudguard by fgebhart - Thingiverse.
I believe that, both legally and practically, there is nothing to stop anyone taking the original “Ass Saver” and republishing it as their own. One could make the argument that the shape is stylised and looks like a feather - in that case you might need to make it look different.
What’s the deal with copyright
“In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.”