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shrox

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I have noticed allot of knock-offs of old Estes stuff being sold by various vendors. I have been thinking about it, and to me it seems less than proper.

When I got back into rocketry in 1997 or so, I was dismayed at the selection available. Little more than the same base 3FNC's with different stickers and colored plastic. Most of the classics where not available. I cloned a few from memory, and then I designed my own. People said "Hey cool, where can I get one?" Then I began selling my own designs.

Making a clone of a long time OOP kit for personal fun and flight is fine I think. Taking something that is known to be a design of a well known company is a little crass, especially if you call it the same thing! (A scale model is something different, using parts from a known company is acceptable too, so long as it is fairly generic, ogive cones, conical cones, etc...)

Honestly, it is an homage to build and fly a clone of a favorite kit, it is in bad taste to make and sell them.

shrox
 

Chilly

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That's an interesting point, but there's nothing wrong with selling clones. Seems to me that if the manufacturer is clear about it, there's a market for it, and (most important) Estes doesn't make a legal challenge, then have at it. Personally, I'm thinking real hard about treating myself to a TP Mars Lander for my birthday...:D

Bottom line is that Estes apparently hasn't seen fit to sic the lawyers on the Cloners. So if they don't have a problem with it, why should anyone else? I wish they'd pay attention to the obvious demand out there and start issuing some of those classics. Interceptors and Saturn IB's immediately come to mind. :cool:
 

wwattles

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I'm of the opinion that kits should fall into the realms of pseudo-copyrights. If Estes (or any other manufacturer, for that matter) has deemed it unprofitable to keep producing a kit, for whatever reason, they have the right to do so. If I was looking to get into the business of making clones, I'd probably wait a respectful time for those remnants to clear the shelves at stores (2-3 years or so) before starting to clone. Otherwise I'd feel like I was somehow robbing the originators of business that they have earned.
I'd also probably contact the original makers and let them know that I intend to start cloning, and maybe even buy up some of their kit-specific parts (odd-shaped nose cones come to mind).

WW
 

wyldbill

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Originally posted by shrox
When I got back into rocketry in 1997 or so, I was dismayed at the selection available. Little more than the same base 3FNC's with different stickers and colored plastic. Most of the classics where not available. I cloned a few from memory, and then I designed my own.
A lot of other people are in the same boat. They remember great kits, and there just aren't many left. This seems to be changing. Estes is putting out some interesting stuff and we've got Fliskits and some others who are concentrating on originals. And we support them (big time). There's still a pretty serious vaccuum tho'. Folks want to build the rocket that they couldn't afford or didn't have the skill to build when they were young.

Originally posted by shrox
Making a clone of a long time OOP kit for personal fun and flight is fine I think. Taking something that is known to be a design of a well known company is a little crass, especially if you call it the same thing!.....Honestly, it is an homage to build and fly a clone of a favorite kit, it is in bad taste to make and sell them.
Funny thing here. None of the cloners I'm aware of are presenting clones as THEIR designs. Everyone knows they're Estes remakes. Estes is not losing any business as they don't offer anything comparable. When they do reissue popular kits, they sell out. Tried to find an ESTES OT lately? They're selling for over sticker on the 'bay. We support Estes as well, I've bough multiples of the new Renegade and Outlander. When I buy a clone kit, I'm paying for convenience. I could go to BMS for cones, TT for tube, TP for decals, here for rings, there for hooks, and end up paying through the nose for shipping unless I've planned for multiple clones and bought in lots. The cloner buys in bulk for me and sells everything I need in a package. The kit isn't any less "real" or less difficult to build. The only work I don't have to do is track down and order the parts (and cut tubes in some cases). Clones are more expensive than the actual parts, but I'm willing to pay for the convenience. I really don't see a difference between buying a kit and cloning it myself, the outcome is the same. The cloner isn't making money by ripping off Estes, they're providing a service that some are willing to pay for.


$0.02,
-bill
 

rabidsheeep

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i think its fine as long as you give credit to estes and if you say its a clone...
 

sandman

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I ran into this on my "Mini-Kits".

I just called Estes and talked to Mary Roberts and she said. "Gee, nobody has ever asked before!"

So she said yes with some stipulations...minor...just give Estes the credit for the designs, say they are "copies" of old designs and not original and plaster that all over the kits.

I am sort of doing the same thing for the scale documentation on my Little Joe II kits.

I got permission from George Gassaway and Tom Beach with a stipulation that I give them credit and include that these are copyrighted (that's not too hard...it's printed at the top of each page!)

George also asked me to include an application for the NAR with each kit...

Gee, do you think they'll mind if I just include a copy of the back cover of the January/February 2004 issue of Sport Rocketry?

(Yep, that's my baby under the application...hehehehe...how conVIEEEENient! hehe!)

It just seem proper to ask permission.

sandman
 

Fore Check

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WYLDBILL: Very well said. And you make great points about the the relative high cost of cloning and the relative inconvenience factors if you do it yourself.


Perhaps I should interject my opinion in this way.

I never thought of Flying_Silverado's business as being underhanded in any way. In fact, I think it's neat that his company (Thrustline) offers some old favorites to us BARs. In all clone cases, they are clearly advertised as "clones" and not original designs (he does offer some interesting designs of his own that are pretty neat, BTW.)

Anyway, as a cloner and personal builder, I view his business as a service to my insanity, and a challenge to come up with something different as far as clones go.

(I wonder what Flying_Silverado's take on the issue is?)


Shrox: are you associated with the company Shrox that sells rockets on the net? If so, have you developed your stance and become more entrenched on your side of the fence because the cloners are selling their parts bags to potential customers of yours, thus leaving less of a share of the proverbial pie there for you to have a piece of? Just wondering.
 

Fore Check

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I might add that you should add an option to your poll where I could answer "It's fine - we like clones" or something like that without being so sarcastic in trying to answer that way (see your option number 3.)

Your poll is terribly slanted.
 

n3tjm

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If you have permission, you can do it without any problems...

If you don't ask permission, you may get in a boat-load of trouble.

I think Estes does not bug the cloners (for now) because they are not a major competitor. But, if a cloner makes it big... then Estes may take notice...
 

wyldbill

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Yup. He's that Shrox, but remember that he sells originals. He's really competing with folks like Fliskits, Art Applewhite, etc. I thought the poll was slanted as well... but it's HIS poll.

Shrox - any thought given to releasing a plan set for your low power kits? If you don't want to offer them as full kits, I'd pay for a plan pak. ( For my personal cloning use of course ... ;) )

-bill
 

wyldbill

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Wow, that bings up an interesting question, how do feel about BOP (bag o' parts) kits? They include all the parts you need, but no instructions.

Say shrox offered a set of plans for his kits. They're copyrighted, so copying them and distributing them (for free or profit) is illegal. I go into the business of producing BOP kits for them. They're not a Shrox kit, just a collection of parts you'd need to build one and are sold as such, kinda like a carb-rebuild kit. You have to supply the plans yourself, presumably bought from shrox.

Where does this fall in the cloning spectrum? Evil? Heavenly?

One might note that the real "problem" Estes is facing is not the kits, but the copying and distribution of their plans and decal designs. Without these, cloning becomes much more difficult...

FWIW,
-bill
 

sandman

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I should point out that JimZ also has permision to post all the old plans on his web site.

Please note that JimZ's rocket plan site ends in .org as a not for profit site!

While his decal site is a .net.

It's not really difficult to do it "the right way" it's just common courtesy really.

Unfortunately sometimes common courtesy has to be enforced by a lawyer's letter.

I don't want that...thank you very much!

sandman
 

wyldbill

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For the Record I never meant to imply that what JimZ's doing wasn't above board. He's one our greatest resources and we're fortunate to reap the fruit of his efforts.
 

sandman

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OH no...no implication understood. That wasn't what I meant.

In fact Estes has told JimZ that he is helping to promote the hobby (Thier words!)

I just wanted to point out that being a .org (information for non-profit) was the only way JimZ could get permission to use all the plans.

I just meant that he and I both have permission from Estes.

You guys can't hurt my feelings...I'm tuff!

OK maybe Carl could he's bigger than me!

sandman
 

jflis

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Here's my cut at it (pretty cut-n-dry, actually...)

If you have permission, go for it. Heck, if there is a market and you own a license (eg: received permission), then there can't be any problem, period.

If someone is into clones, they can buy them. If someone *isn't* into clones then they can *not* buy them. Piece of pie...

However, if you *don't* have permission and the copyright is still current then there *is* a problem (it's called copyright infringement (theft by any other name)) and it doesn't have to be "for profit". If I were to create a handout for our club (ignoring the fact that i'm a manufacturer for this discussion) with a copy of an image and text from an estes catalog on it and give it out to my club members, it is "copyright infringement" and a very clear case of it (read a typical copyright (note, even without the specific wording, it is accepted condition under the law) that "these copyrighted items can not be reproduced in any way, electronic or otherwise, without the express written permission of the owner"). Easy as cake...

So, to scan them, xerox them, etc, is "reproducing" and is not permitted without permission.

How long? I am not *positive*, but I beleive that it is for 17 years AFTER the death of the originating entity (eg: Estes in most cases). So that 17 year timeline has not even begun yet.

I will admit that I refrained from buying certain kits because I *assumed* that since nothing was specifically stated that no permission was granted in certain cases. Discovering that this isn't so has lead me to consider buying one or two to satisfy some inner desire to regain my childhood... :)



But without known permission, I wouldn't support such items by making a purchase (but that's just me). I laud Sandman, JimZ and Semroc (and, i'm sure, many others) for the work that they do in cloning *legally*.

I've also had several people ask if FlisKits will get into producing clones. The short answer is "no". Mainly because we have enough of our own creative designs *on the books* to carry us well beyond 2009 so we have enough on 0ur hands right now :)

Also, I think Shrox' poll is more *tounge in cheek* than anything else.

One final point that I think should be made is that I sense that there is some opinion or feeling out there that "this isn't Vern Estes, but rather Estes Industries" and there may be less concern with taking or using something that belongs to a faceless company rather than the kindly gentleman we know as Vern. It really doesn't matter. If I take a pack of gum from Wal-Mart or from the little kid next door, I still took something that didn't belong to me. Also, for what it is worth, the owner of the copyright has every right to make the decision that they no longer want their design sold to anyone anywhere.

****! I sound so *darned* serious all of a sudden! :p ... sorry, i'll try not to let *that* happen again! LOL

jim
 

cydermaster

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Originally posted by jflis
I am not *positive*, but I beleive that it is for 17 years AFTER the death of the originating entity.
A few years ao it was extended from 50 to 75 years after, in the UK; and a couple of months ago Copyright Infringment was changed to Copyright Theft (ie. changed from a civil offence to a criminal one). But as the E-Brand kits are American, American law would apply, so that point is a bit irrelivent. :rolleyes:
Also, I think Shrox' poll is more *tounge in cheek* than anything else.
Yep - and keep 'em comming, Shrox. I like your sense of humour. :D
 

shrox

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Certain VERY distinctive kits of Estes' have been cloned and sold, I don't know their permission status. Some of them are as easy as reprinting a piece of folding cardboard.

Try to reproduce the Estes Star Trek USS Enterprise, or the Quest USS Enterprise-E, or any Star Wars item.

It sounds like Jim has years worth of his own designs. I have plenty that have not yet been seen, and there are many more rockets that have never been made yet. Kind of like the question, is the statue carved out from the rock or is the rock removed to reveal the statue?

I am kind of surprised by the attitude of "if they don't notice, no harm done." Is that a victimless crime, like punching someone in the dark? (a reference to The Simpson's TV show, all rights reserved)

Ethics are what we do when others are looking, morals are what we do when we are alone.

Shrox
"Now Morally superior with New and Improved kung-fu action!!"
 

sandman

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****! I sound so *darned* serious all of a sudden! ... sorry, i'll try not to let *that* happen again! LOL
OK, Jim, we'll be watching you!

Don't be getting serious again!

"Now Morally superior with New and Improved kung-fu action!!"
OK...we'll be watching you too!

Shrox,

One last thing...let's see 6 post so far from you AND NO PICTURES!!

We want pictures!

sandman
 

Aerobee300

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I suppose permission and proper credit are things that should be done when cloning kits ..... I really, really like the idea of being able to build some of the kits I built as a kid .... buying clones are the only way unless you are capable of mocking up these old designs yourself ... I, at least for the moment, am not .... bring on the clones !!!!!

As a very new BAR .... I have to say that some of the new designs are awesome too !!!!!!!!!!!
 

Aerobee300

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Y'know ... I know I'm new and all but so far Thrustline has treated me very well indeed .... I will continue to buy his kits as long as I stay in the hobby !!! He's just an excellent person to deal with !

Anyone want to clone a Centuri Magnum SAM 3 .... let me know !!! I'll buy one or two !!!
 

flying_silverad

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The funny thing is...it's win-win situation. What most people forget is that little hole at the business end of the clone rocket. That little hole will hold an Estes motor. A motor which will in fact put money into Estes pocket...which I think is a good thing. The more clones, the more motors. Maybe the person who would normally not buy a rocket, gets bought buy a B.A.R. like me who otherwise might not buy the rockets available today.

Guidelines I use.

Never, never clone a rocket that is currently being produced. If Estes decided today to build a Cherokee D...that's all I would need not to produce them. The legal department at ESTES said that their concern with me cloning would be the liability and wondered how to get around it. That's why my name and address is on every slip that accompanies each kit.

In no way, would I ever take credit for a design that was produced by someone else. My designs are just that...mine. Clones on the other hand are clones. And I do make that distinction. Clones are historic reproductions of a kit that becomes available because some old fart (or fartess) like myself wants to relive the past, but might not have the time to research, collect, purchase, assemble, test fly, paint, decal, bag, package, or whatever else.

Is it moral?
I am 45. I hope to have 20-30 original designs by next year. When I give this up or move on or die or whatever, if I thought someone was cloning my stuff...I think that would probably be the biggest compliment anyone could give me. Imagine...somebody wanting to clone the Duster...pretty heady stuff if you ask me.

Most of you don't know me past the forum. I will let you in on a little secret. When I was 11, rocketry was the only thing in my life that made sense, kept me from coming unglued and kept my out of trouble. When everything else around me seemed out of control, I always had a part of the basement I could go to where rockets kept me focused and left me with a few good memories of earlier years. This clone part of the business isn't about money...it's about maybe helping somebody experience the same thing.
 

shrox

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Cloning an existing rocket for personal use is fine especially if you have the parts laying around anyway, but getting for decals it might end up costing you more than buying a kit.

Scale or semi-scale rockets are different in that they attempt to be something of a static model of a real rocket as well as a flying rocket.

JimZ's page is where I went soon after I became BAR, Sven Knudson's page as well. That was nostalgic!

shrox
 

lalligood

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I've been thinking about this thread all day to the point that it woke me up in the middle of the night...

I see cloning kits as having a lot in common with music. An artist (individual or group) produces a song & enjoys the benefits of commercial success with it. After a period of time, another artist covers the original tune, often using a new arrangement or possibly even staying rather faithful to the original...but at their own discretion. The second artist can do two things: 1) Stay in the garage so to speak & play it as many times as they want, enjoying it for themselves, OR 2) Get permission from the original artist & release it commercially for their own gain. Granted there are a lot of bad examples of cover tunes, it also has worked quite successfully for some artists & sometimes if particular care is taken by a gifted individual, the second "version" can often take a life unto its own & actually supercede the original (like Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower").

So to turn it back to rockets, I think that many, if not all of the folks/companies here on TRF that produce cloned kits are at the *very least* attempting to breathe new life into older designs to appeal to a new audience that appreciates the looks of old while simultaneously combining the modern conveniences of new technology (laser cut fins, kevlar recovery devices, etc.) All while having permission of the originator of the design (Estes). And it appears that they are succeeding quite well :D

That's just my $0.02 anyway.
 

bsexton

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This seems to have stirred up some emotional opinions. Simply stated I believe if you are cloning a kit no longer in production for your personal use it is OK. If you are a vendor doing it for profit ask for permission. It doesn't seem that hard to do, especially since Estes is still in business.
 

GlennW

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I am one of those that responded that it is wrong to sell a clone. However, I took that to mean a currently produced kit. I see no problem with selling a clone kit of an OOP model as long as you have permission. As a matter of fact, one of the posters on the board has been talking of making a new Gemini Titan kit, which I would eagerly buy.

Glenn
 

sandman

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Well, now scale jobs...those really wouldn't apply as clones would they?

Unless it was exactly the same as the original but would it???

hmmm...this is an interesting twist.

Does NASA own the copyrights on the Little Joe II? I don't think so.

Interesting twist on the cloning issue...scale that is.

sandman
 

flying_silverad

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Originally posted by sandman
Well, now scale jobs...those really wouldn't apply as clones would they?

Unless it was exactly the same as the original but would it???

hmmm...this is an interesting twist.

Does NASA own the copyrights on the Little Joe II? I don't think so.

Interesting twist on the cloning issue...scale that is.

sandman
So guess we should call them...SCONES!
 

jflis

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scale models wouldn't apply.

While the internal workings and such may (probably *are*) protected and/or classified, the shape of the rocket is public domain (heck, YOU paid for the darned thing! :) )

The only risk is if you were foolish enough to just photo copy the Estes instruction set and/or cover art. Other than that, you're cool.

Interesting point here... ...Ever notice that when Estes (or anyone else for that matter) produced a scale kit (like the Saturn V), they would put the TM symbol on the name... ...hard to trademark a public domain term, 'specially one already in use by the originating entity... :D
 

loopy

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I selected Shrox is a Rocket Deity in the Dark Art of Rocketry. His powers are great...

This is kind of an unfair/loaded question because there is a distinction between cloning OOP kits with permission (seems to be the bulk of what we see) versus cloning something in production with no permission, and submitting it for direct competition with the creating entity. I don't think I'd want to have to compete against my own intellectual property...

That being said, it seems as though proper steps have been taken (at least by the entities on this board) to ensure proper credit is given, and they are not setting up a competitive environment.

Oh, and Shrox is a Rocket Deity in the Dark Art of Rocketry. His powers are great...yes, they are...lol Shrox - I'm glad you joined our little microcosm of rocketry fanatics - you certainly fit in here...
 

cydermaster

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Originally posted by Loopy
Shrox - I'm glad you joined our little microcosm of rocketry fanatics - you certainly fit in here...
Amen Brother Loopy! :)
 
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