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, 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 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…

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

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Anonymous Coward says:

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.

fogbugzd (profile) says:


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.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

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.

Hulser (profile) says:

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.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

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.

R. Miles (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

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