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Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @

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August 20, 2004

Hatch's Hit List #31 - Replica Prop Forums

Posted by Ernest Miller

What is Hatch's Hit List? Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has introduced the Inducing Infringement 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 the Hatch's Hit List Archives. Send list suggestions to ernest.miller 8T

Today on Hatch's Hit List: Replica Prop Forums

I like to be a little more whimsical on my Friday Hit List posts, so today we see how a website dedicated to mastering the making of models and replicas of movie props could easily be shut down by the INDUCE Act.

The Replica Prop Forums (you can read without registering) is a community of film fans, modelers and others who painstakingly recreate various props and models from films. The members of this community are, without a doubt, uberfans. Creators whose works are discussed on these forums should be proud that people care that much about their work.

Nevertheless RPF is clearly a haven for copyright infringement, and dedicated to encouraging people to engage in copyright infringement. After all, aren't these props and models copyrighted? Isn't making a model (with rare fair use exceptions) infringement? Even the site recognizes this.

From the Code of Conduct:

The sale/discussion of pirated or copied media is not permitted on the RPF. This means music, movies, software, games, etc. and/or related items like labels or packaging. If it is genuine/original material, it is welcomed, not only for discussion, but also for sale in the JY.

Emulator discussion is permitted, however the discussion or location of ROM's is not.

Remember, media piracy has it's own severe real-world ramifications. Our hobby has enough potential legalities to contend with and adding media piracy to that already clouded mix is a risk we will not take. As always it's better safe than sorry. [emphasis in original]

"Our hobby has enough potential legalities to contend with," indeed.

The site even encourages sale of these replicas:

Selling one of any item from your personal collection is permitted.

Threads used to publicly discuss a run of any unlicensed replica prop, costume item or complete kit are not. Remember these words, "contact me privately for more information".

Threads to jointly research a prop or discuss our work are encouraged, as is the use of private contact to convey interest in a project. [emphasis in original]

Looks like they are trying to avoid some liability, but help people meet up to exchange cash for infringing works anyway. Tsk, tsk.

However, don't you dare infringe the work of an infringer:

Deliberately recasting another member’s work or property without permission is something this community does not support. A member found selling/trading (either in the Junkyard or any other online auction or outlet) items recast from another member without permission will face possible removal from the RPF. Should any member suspect another member of this behavior, please contact a member of the staff.
Too bad they don't say the same for copyright infringement. Speaking of which, they do recognize the importance of the original work and its copyrighted status:
Please show the license and copyright holders the respect their hard work deserves by expressing your opinions about individuals, companies or their products in a civil and constructive manner.

As with the other entries in this code, we ask that the community allow the staff to handle it's application and NOT to engage in "self policing". [emphasis in original]

See, they know that licenses are granted to make replicas and that the original works are copyrighted. This is a blatant attempt to keep the copyright holders from getting mad at them.

The RPF may think it is only running a community-based forum, but they are really inducing people (many of them young, probably) to engage in criminal activities.

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.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Hatch's Hit List | INDUCE Act


1. Veruca McAdams on September 24, 2004 05:53 AM writes...

I'm not exactly sure upon which side of the fence you stand - or rather, how far beyond the fence you're roaming.

Regardless, let's hope that the British don't decide that our American national anthem infringes upon whatever intellectual property rights exist - or can be legally invented - for the English drinking song FSK set the words of our anthem to. As many times as we've played that one... And I thought Bush had really run up the deficit looking for WMDs.

You might consider, too, how many times Reagan publicly said, 'May the Force Be With You'. Guess his estate owes Lucas some royalties, eh? Check's in the mail, George.

It's a little difficult to support something that seems most substantively to make the rich richer, while simultaneously alienating the hand that feeds them. My heart goes out to Metallica, if not my pocketbook.

If legislation ever gets around to issues like health care, social security and education then maybe you can stand there, point and say, "Your Wookie has no Lederhosen". Until then, you waste my time. And, my taxes.

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