Irony: Eugene Roddenberry Might Sue You For Using A Replicator To Create Your Own Star Trek Prop

from the replicate-this dept

An anonymous reader alerts us to some odd, and excessive, legal language coming from Eugene Roddenberry, son of the late Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Apparently, the younger Roddenberry now runs Roddenberry.com, which sells all sorts of Star Trek replica props and prop kits. Our anonymous reader notes that he was looking through the various prop kits and downloaded the pdf manual for the Boomerang Hand Phaser Prop Kit and noticed the following text at the end:
"The physical reproduction by any means known or yet to be invented (including recasting and/or reverse engineering or 3D scanning/printing) of the Roddenberry.com Boomerang Phaser Kit or any of it's parts is expressly prohibited under U.S. and International copyright and product protection laws."
While I believe Rodenberry is overstating the law here, and he'd actually have a pretty difficult time suing in a lot of cases, what's even more amusing is the fact that Star Trek, of course, is the show that introduced the concept of "the replicator," a device that is now only weakly approximated by the same sort of 3D printing the younger Roddenberry now seeks to block. It's too bad he doesn't appear to sell a prop replicator, because it would be even more amusing to see the warning text on that manual...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Pickle Monger (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 7:18am

    The real question...

    The real question is "What does the Federation law says on the matter?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 8:14am

    It's the future

    We have no need of money, right?

     

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  3.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 8:24am

    $129

    I can see why he would want to put on strong prohibitions against copying. The thing sells for $129, and appears to be nothing but a non-functioning plastic kit. You have to assemble and paint it yourself. If you want electronics you can get the "hollow" version and add your own. If it was an interesting kit to assemble I can see how that might be attractive. However, it looks like something that was intended to be assembled in a factory, but in the end they decided it would be cheaper to print instructions and let the consumer do the work.

    I figure the profit margin on this kit has got to be enormous. There is nothing wrong with that in itself, but it does create a huge incentive to copy it.

     

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  4.  
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    lavi d (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 8:32am

    Warning!

    "Do NOT use the Replicator to make replicas of the Replicator"

    "YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!"

     

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  5.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 8:39am

    Re: The real question...

    Copyright law in the federation is still very warped ...

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 8:39am

    Re: Warning!

    Thank you for reminding us all of the first rule of Replicator Club.

    PS: it is also the second rule. And the third, fourth, etc. There's no rule against replicating the rules of Replicator Club.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 8:41am

    Re: $129

    My mom has a metal one with a glass stand that cost $150. Why does he think his "some assembly required" version is worth so much?

     

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  8.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 8:44am

    Re: $129

    I think the issue is that, unlike your off-the-shelf model kits, this is pretty much what the prop guys were working with when they assembled the originals (not clear from the description if these were 'hero' models.) That has a lot of appeal to a certain subset of fans, but they're a minority so the markup is going to be higher than for a snap-tite kit.

    Whether duplication of 'industrial' parts has any protection under the myriad of "IP" laws, I'll leave to the lawyers.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 8:54am

    go ahead

    50 year copyright dont forget you asshole
    1966+50 = 2016 by time you catch me, by time you gte me into a court
    by time yu wake up and realize that YOUR DADS FICTION is not an invention patentable by anyone due to it NOT REALLY EXISTING

    what a fucking idiot

     

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  10.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 8:58am

    Re: go ahead

    Well... the props exist.

     

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  11.  
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    R. Miles (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 9:10am

    Oh no, Roddenberry...

    ... I patented time travel by using the slingshot method using a planet and a warp drive device.

    I did this because I used a replicator to make a time machine from H.G. Wells' books, went back in time to 1923 (just to be sure) and filed the patent.

    Then, I went to the future and lobbied to have all "IP" laws enforced so I'll never lose my patent... ever.

    I'm now back in this current time frame and dude, you owe me so much damn money, I now understand why you're threatening to sue.

    By the way: you're late with last month's payment. Add $1.5M as a late fee.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 9:17am

    Home replicating is killing music!

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 9:27am

    Re: It's the future

    there is no money, only debt

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    none, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: $129

    Your mom sounds pretty hot.. hook me up

     

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  15.  
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    MBraedley (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re: The real question...

    Bad pun

     

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  16.  
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    Farrell McGovern (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 10:18am

    Before you rip him a new one...

    It could be that he doesn't know anything about this, and it was his lawyer(s) and/or website company that put it in.

    ttyl
    Farrell

     

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  17.  
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    Hulser (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 10:35am

    Re: $129

    I can see why he would want to put on strong prohibitions against copying.

    Sure, anyone can see why he'd want to, in the very least, overstate the restrictions and, at most, outright lie about the restrictions. The more interesting question is what should be the punishment for mistating the restrictions in such a way? In my mind, the punishment for stating innacurate information about the protections on your products should be roughly equivolent to infringing on those protections.

     

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  18.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 10:44am

    Re: Before you rip him a new one...

    That's likely true (and I like Rod) but he's where the buck stops, ultimately, so he gets to shoulder the criticism.

     

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  19.  
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    The Buzz Saw (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 10:44am

    grammar fail

    The terms used the wrong word. It said "it's" when it really meant "its".

     

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  20.  
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    Pickle Monger (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Re: The real question...

    Au contraire... it was pretty funny. I liked it!

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:33am

    Mike, how about this for irony:
    An actual replicator could never be designed built or marketed.
    Its sole purpose to is infringe on someones copyright/patent/trademark, etc.

    The cassette tape, the betamax, Xerox Copying machine, the cd, the replicator.

    And in this age of patents, could one be invented and NOT infringe itself on someones copyright?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:44am

    Re: Re: Re: $129

    No, no no. It's the replica phaser that's metal on a glass stand and costs $150. His mom probably doesn't have a metal one on a glass stand and most likely is worth way more than $150.

     

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  23.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re: $129

    I agree. I think that we should have a "copyright-marking" penalty that is similar to patent-marking. It would be abused, but it would shift the balance back toward the consumer. Right now there really is no penalty.

    One big downside of putting in penalties for excessive copyright claims is that we would never know when a ballgame is over. We all know that it is time to mentally turn off a game when we hear that all descriptions and accounts of the game are covered by copyright, and that would have to go away.

     

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  24.  
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    Valkor, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 12:02pm

    Re:

    Don't replicate that floppy!

     

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  25.  
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    PRMan, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    Re: The real question...

    Ironically, Gene Roddenberry's vision was that replicators had made all wealth problems go away and people took jobs because they wanted to do something, not because they needed money at all.

    The whole premise of Star Trek is that anything can be copied and society is great as a result.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Valkor, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Warning!

    Also, do not taunt Happy Fun Ball, or attempt to put a Portal on a non-stationary object.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 12:39pm

    Re:

    We already have the beginning of a replicator, the RepRap. It currently can only make plastic parts up to a certain size, including several parts of itself.

    It can avoid infringing on someones copyright by the simple fact that the data files used so far either have a copyleft or some other free license, or are created by the users themselves on a CAD program.

    That said, as soon as it gets good enough for the masses, it would not surprise me to see more model sharing sites pop up, and some of them will be shadier than Thingiverse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Richard (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re: It's the future

    One man's money is another man's debt.

    The two add to exactly zero.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Warning!

    IP lawyers will just come up with new catchphrases like: "Replicators are Robbery!" and "Please don't Replicate - Think of the childern"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 3:00pm

    There are already papercraft replicas of ST:TOS phasers and communicators, plus several full-sized phaser rifles. Not to mention models of all the versions of the Enterprise, various other ST ships, the classic bridge, etc. One guy has also made full-sized paper models of the Aliens pulse rifle and the Terminator phased plasma rifle.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 6:51pm

    Re: Re: The real question...

    Yeah, the Star Trek society is a prime example of a post-scarcity society. I don't really know if the death of scarcity will somehow magically ennoble man the way the show implies though.

    Now we're right on the brink of the end of scarcity for anything that is essentially encodable as information. To shrink back from that would be to immeasurably damage the progress of our whole society, but entrenched interests sure fight hard to keep it from happening.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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