What is Hatch's Hit List? Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has introduced the Inducing Infringment of Copyrights Act (IICA, née INDUCE Act) in the Senate. The bill would make it illegal to "intentionally induce" copyright infringement, but is worded so broadly that it would have all sorts of unintended consequences, one of which is to severely limit, cripple or kill innovation in many different fields. Hatch's Hit List is a daily exploration of some of the technologies and fields that the bill would likely affect. See also, Introducing Hatch's Hit List and Hatch's Hit List Archives.
Today on Hatch's Hit List: Legos
It's Friday. So, I thought Hatch's Hit List could be a little more lighthearted. And what is more lighthearted than showing how the INDUCE Act could be used to sue a maker of children's toys?
Legos are a very cool, educational toy. Who doesn't like legos? They rock. And they're not just for kids; plenty of adults use legos to do some pretty amazing things, which Lego sometimes explicitly and sometimes implicitly supports. Unfortunately, many of these amazing things violate copyright, which makes the Lego company an inducer of copyright infringement.
Take for example Lego Mosaics, which would be derivative works of the original image. Lego will let you upload a picture file and then, using their Brick-o-Lizer, let you create a custom Lego mosaic from the photo. The next step is for Lego to ship you the custom kit, after you pay them $29.95 (aka commercial viablity). And this is what Lego has to say about the photos:
You can upload any .jpg or .gif file into the Brick-o-Lizer. You can use a scanner or a digital camera to get a picture into your computer to use with the Brick-o-Lizer..." [emphasis added]
Sure, there is a copyright disclaimer
you have to "agree" to before you can use the Brick-o
-Lizer but, please. The site is clearly geared towards children. Like kids understand lawyerese. This is just one of those phony warnings like the P2P companies use.
Even worse are the sample photos the Brick-o-Lizer lets you play with. They are all professional photos that no child could take. Clearly, the examples are telling kids that it is okay to use professional photos (aka copyrighted ones) with the Brick-o-Lizer.
And it is not only the Lego company; there are free versions of the Brick-o-Lizer available on the internet, such the Lego Users Group Network's Mosaic Maker. Any copyright warnings there? Nooooo....
And what about all those unauthorized derivative work Lego movies on the net at places like BrickFilms? What
inspired induced those do you think? Might they have been inspired induced by Lego Comics and Movies?
Yeah, the Lego company is going to have a lot to answer for if the INDUCE Act becomes law.
Want to know more about the INDUCE Act?
Please see LawMeme's well-organized index to everything I've written on the topic, including Hatch's Hit List: The LawMeme Reader's Guide to Ernie Miller's Guide to the INDUCE Act.