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...

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  • icon
    Pickle Monger (profile), 19 Oct 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 chronology ]

    • icon
      Hephaestus (profile), 19 Oct 2010 @ 8:39am

      Re: The real question...

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

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

    • identicon
      PRMan, 19 Oct 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.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 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 chronology ]

  • icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 19 Oct 2010 @ 8:14am

    It's the future

    We have no need of money, right?

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

  • icon
    fogbugzd (profile), 19 Oct 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.

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

    • icon
      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 19 Oct 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?

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

      • identicon
        none, 19 Oct 2010 @ 9:37am

        Re: Re: $129

        Your mom sounds pretty hot.. hook me up

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 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.

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

    • icon
      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 19 Oct 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.

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

    • icon
      Hulser (profile), 19 Oct 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.

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

      • icon
        fogbugzd (profile), 19 Oct 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.

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

  • icon
    lavi d (profile), 19 Oct 2010 @ 8:32am

    Warning!

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

    "YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!"

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 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 chronology ]

    • identicon
      Valkor, 19 Oct 2010 @ 12:07pm

      Re: Warning!

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

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 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 chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 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

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

  • icon
    R. Miles (profile), 19 Oct 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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2010 @ 9:17am

    Home replicating is killing music!

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

  • icon
    Farrell McGovern (profile), 19 Oct 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

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

    • icon
      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 19 Oct 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.

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

  • icon
    The Buzz Saw (profile), 19 Oct 2010 @ 10:44am

    grammar fail

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

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 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?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 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 chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 19 Oct 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 chronology ]


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