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Full Version: License Requirements for LDraw parts and specs?
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Hi all,

I've poked around in the various sections of ldraw.org and haven't found a clear answer, although I might just be not understanding things.

Let's say hypothetically someone wanted to create an app for creating LDraw-based models using both the LDraw Parts Library as well as the LDraw File Format. What, if any, license or legal requirements are there? As long as the parts library, LDraw name, and file formats are attributed to the appropriate folks are there any other restrictions? Can the app be distributed for commercial gain? Can the parts library be included in this distribution for commercial gain? Can the app be distributed by a third party, such as Apple or Amazon via their app stores?

Basically I'm looking for any limitations as to what the LDraw specification and its Parts Library can be used for. Hypothetically of course...

Thanks much!

Everything on the main web site and in the library are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0. The exception is the handful of parts that are clearly marked as such. This is outlined in the Contributor Agreement. What this means is that you are free to do whatever you want as long as you provide attribution.
On that note, can you point me in the right direction to where LEGO has made it clear that it is legal to make and sell custom building instructions that obviously feature LEGO pieces. I have seen a number of websites offer these and I'm sure LEGO themselves do not have a problem, but I would prefer to sell my instruction sets knowing for certain that I'm not committing copyright infringement rather than just having a strong hunch.
This is most certainly not legal advice. But...

I don't think they've ever made that explicitly clear and I don't think they ever will for commercial reasons. But there's good reasons to think they don't have any power in that regard. Most notably the bricks are, for the most part, covered by patents and not copyright which means a representation of them is highly unlikely to have any copyright at all. In fact, in the cases I'm aware of where TLG tried to sue competing companies for copyright infringement over bricks they have failed.

Selling instructions of an official model is a different matter. Those would definitely be covered under copyright to some extent and you might find yourself on the wrong side of the law. The sites that have old instructions have been granted licenses by TLG for that purpose.

Which isn't to say that they couldn't drag you to court anyway if they pleased. It's just unlikely to happen given it has never happened before. And these days communication between their community representatives and legal team is pretty good so you'd be more likely to be asked to stop than sued.

Tim Gould Wrote:TLG tried to sue competing companies for copyright infringement over bricks they have failed.

I think those 'failed' suits were the result of outdated patents.

Outdated patents, are also the main reason they keep adding new designs.
Think we might be talking about different cases. About 5 years ago they tried some pretty dubious suits claiming that the stud belonged under copyright because it was so clearly LEGO. Those failed everywhere as far as I know.

I think the minifig is both copyright and (formerly) patented but I could be wrong. But that would explain why we haven't seen megabloks rip them off now that the patent has expired.

Tim Gould Wrote:megabloks
STOP RIGHT THERE MISTER! How dare you speak of such preposterous nonsense! Think of the children who don't yet know better! Tongue

On a less offended note...
Tim Gould Wrote:In fact, in the cases I'm aware of where TLG tried to sue competing companies for copyright infringement over bricks they have failed.
See Interlego AG v Coko and Interlego AG v Tyco Industries.