And the winners are …

Where Is Anton.

Our latest creative contest #WhereIsAnton together with LEGO Ideas ended last weekend.  It was a real success with hundreds of photos tagged on Instagram. Since then, we’ve been browsing through all the awesome entries on Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Flickr and even 500px and LEGO’s own gallery to find the winners of this challenge.

Sleepless nights, painstakingly looking for chromatic aberrations, sensor dust, creative compositions and cheer creative fun kept your jury awake. A shortlist of nominations in different categories lead the jury to an almost all night hangout session to come up with the final nominations, some special category nominations with an extra honorary price and the ultimate three winners of the LEGO Idea House sets we are giving away. But first we want to thank ALL of you, for taking part in this fun creative context and we will for sure do it again.

Without further ado, time to get to the nominations … Continue reading “And the winners are …”

Only 4 days left …

Where Is Anton.

As some of you may have noticed, we are running a little creative photo contest here on Stuck In Plastic. We asked you to be on the lookout for Anton and share his adventures and sightings around the globe with us. And the images are pouring in. You still have four days (and that includes a full weekend) to get your Anton in. One fantastic toy photographer who did not wait until the last minute was Marco, our Adult Photographer from Italy. Continue reading “Only 4 days left …”

Your Anton

The Anton Saga

We are having a little Anton craziness here on the blog. As you know we are giving away three (yes, three) LEGO Old Fishing Store boxes as part of our creative contest (cc).
And all of you can participate in this fun photo challenge.
You can make your own Anton.
You can pick up Anton in the LEGO store. This set is so awesome and packed with toy photographers little objects you will reuse time after time, that ending up with an extra set through this contest is worth it.
Or, you can get a real Anton from us. Continue reading “Your Anton”

Shooting Plastic is Easy

Hectic times here in The Studio (and in Helsinki and Seattle) while we all start to understand the magnitude of what we got ourselves into in our first ever, real live, international group exposition of our creative collective in Seattle.

Shooting plastic is easy compared to the epic adventure we have decided to embark on and the decisions we have to take.

We need to get the pictures to the lab, and since we are all going big, I at least have to go one extra round over the test prints at my end (size A2, my floors are filled with artist proof copies ) before they are good to be shipped to the lab. Make sure there are no dust spots, or chromatic aberration hiding in a corner. Things you don’t see on IG, or even when we go all in on Flickr or G+ as we are still talking about screen consumption and not the big print.

And it is not just the files for the printing lab. It is also the type of paper (matte, glossy, canvas, metallic, …), framing options and sizes (I start to get the hang of how big an inch really is) and the limited edition signatures. All very exciting decisions when you go for that one off piece, but here we are talking about a whole series, and the clock is ticking (only 5 more weeks and I already have to hop on a plane over the ocean). Decisions. Big decisions.

And then there is the press. Both here and in Seattle. We have to engage with them, get the invites and the press kits out, and when you then decide to give them an exclusive A2 signed artist proof here in Sweden you also need the corresponding postal tube. Finding and selecting the right tubes is just another decision on the road (more in a later post on the selection process of tubes as this can be very interesting for some of you). We took decisions, and moved on. The question remains if it was the right one. Time and press will tell and using the press as guinea pigs at least feels good.

And the list continues.

ESTA for the US.
Business cards for the show.
A suit for the opening.
The 3F (Family, Friends, Followers) also need an invite.
The Social Media (a complete different set  of invites)
The Invites (so not the 3F, but the significant others … do we invite LEGO Systems A/S or not ? And if yes, who ?)
The hashtag for the show.
The schedule for the week.
The naming of the show.
The pricing of the works.
The Toy walk in Seattle on Saterday.

And the one hundred and one things Shelly is doing in Seattle I am not even aware off in preparation for our very first international toy photography exhibition in Seattle.

Shooting plastic is the easy part.

Fair Play – Part II

Our Fair Play post from yesterday, highlighting the fact that The Awesome LEGO Systems A/S had sent their legal teams to Red Bubble with a set of claimed IP infringements on regular LEGO pieces created quite some reactions here, on IG, on bricked forums and reddit alike. Reactions covering the full spectrum ranging from great sympathy and annoyance with LEGO over the more neutral business as usual to the defenders of the right to protect ones IP. One recurring observation coming back was that sharing was not an issue, and that the problem was only with selling the art or as someone called it purchasable goods.

If you look back at yesterdays post we believe that it is not just about someone selling merchandise, and that the discussion goes much deeper on who owns the rights and that LEGO seems to be making a shift in their IP protecting policies here.

LEGO is only after those who sell their pictures.

While Red Bubble core business is indeed the sales of art and craft, they follow a similar user community model as Flickr and DeviantArt and actually Red Bubble does not force you to sell your work. You can perfectly share your work without the option of making postcards or poster prints available for purchase. And this happened to quite a few people on Red Bubble when Lucasfilm went after all the Star Wars fan art and sent notices to sellers and sharers alike, not making any difference between those who just shared their fan art (derivative works) and those who tried to sell it.

Red Bubble user Byron explains it pretty clear in his beginners guide to copyright and dmca :

” … It is a misconception that it is ok to upload derivative works without permission – so long as you don’t offer them for sale. The real issue is with the act of publishing the derivative works … and in this day and age “publishing = uploading to a website”

And Helen mentions exactly that, her work was taken down while it was just being shared, and not up for sale.

Screenshot 2015-01-21 23.34.08

So this really brings us to the bone of the meat.

Is original classic LEGO copyrighted as a whole and using any brick or figure is violating the copyright of Big Inc. and anything we dream or imagine and build with LEGO is actually owned by LEGO Systems A/S and is to be considered derivative fan art of the brick company ?

Is a classic LEGO brick or mini-figure equally protected by the copyright laws dream makers like Marvel, Disney and Lucasfilms  enforce when they take down fan art of Spiderman or Darth as they vigorously protect their creative IP (and they do, they are in the first place dream makers, while LEGO was up to now a toy maker) ?

Can one imagine and make a unique piece of “art” (and then photograph it) of some classic LEGO bricks, studs or minifigures that is not subject to be considered derivative fan art of LEGO Systems A/S ?

So when Mark created his own LEGO fantasy character Goovy with a few LEGO pieces as an homage to Ash Williams (a series never licensed by LEGO as most probably to violent) and put this on Red Bubble after a retweet by the original actor did he then truly violate the copyrights of the LEGO Systems A/S ?

goovy

Is every mini me or alter ego actually owned by LEGO because this iconic piece of toys (the mini-figure) is trademarked and copyright protected and any derivative work is owned by LEGO. If you follow the letter of the claims that is what LEGO lawyers are enforcing here when they invoke the IP infringement letter against Mark at RB.

And here is another victim of yesterdays take down.
A bunch of pirates in a pool.
A photo taken by the fantastic storyteller bricksailboat called the Party Pool.

bricksailboat

I can only see a creative mind taking a cool pirate picture that wants me to join the pool party and I would happily buy this postcard on RB to invite my friends over for a party in the weekend.

So, this whole take down is hopefully just a storm in a glass of water and will not go any further as the few cases we saw (and they should not ruin the fun, Big Companies may have a bad hairday as well) but we should not shy away from the discussion and push back to our beloved childhood toy manufacturer that we do want to continue to play with the toys and soup cans alike, and use them in our creative work and maybe even sell some of it on the way.

Me2

Fair Play

Today we hit an all new high in the battle of Big Inc. against the small Artists™ when LEGO System A/S filed a large set of complaints against LEGO Artists™ small and big on RedBubble using the second half of the Millennium Act to enforce their powers and have the small art and craft work removed with the stroke of a legal letter on claimed ownership. Yes, you read that right, ownership of the artistic photo they took featuring LEGO in an artistic shoot.

Big Inc™

LEGO Systems A/S did a George Lucas today and used the power of the DMCA to take down the creative work from quite a few of our friends on Red Bubble. @smokebelch2 @dannyboyh and @bricksailboat to just name a few. If your work has also been taken down by LEGO with no clear reason then there was some LEGO in your photo, then please join us in posting your legal notice and tag it to #legodoesalucasltd more details can be found on our blog www.stuckinplastic.com or over at @xxsjc feed ! Do spread the word ...
...

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Got hit by it too! xxsjc _me2_ #legodoesalucasltd ...

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Well hello Big Inc...#legodoesalucasltd...Check out www.stuckinplastic.com for the story🌴😧 ...

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A new high (or is it low) in the battle against Artistic Creativity because it was not George Lucas going after his iconic Stormtrooper Helmets or Darth Vader silhouettes like we have seen in the past to “protect” their merchandise market, nor Disney protecting Mickey from any mischief, but the Awesome LEGO company itself who is going after any photo using LEGO people or objects in it. So far simple bricks, age old pirates and genuine minifig series outside the licensed subsets of Disney,  StarWars or Marvel have been reported as being taken down by LEGO System A/S as they are the claimed owner of the intellectual property.

Maybe with the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney the LEGO Group took over the legal department from George instead ?

It is an interesting (and scary) development to see the European company that inspires creativity and imagination going single minded after a relatively large group of its AFOL community, hiding behind the powers of Big Inc. and DMCA to break down the creative movement of Toy Photography and try to put a stop to sharing our work.

This is not about protecting the exact replica merchandise market of iconic symbols in mass consumer goods (for example the LEGO logo, the Stormtrooper Helmet, The Statue of Liberty, …) but killing the creative use of an inspiring role model brand.

It is as if Campbell’s (the soup company) would claim intellectual ownership of Andy Warhols painting and have it confiscated because he used a soon to be iconic soup can.

Today it is not clear if LEGO Systems A/S is just dipping its feet in the legal rumble of fan art with some overeager legal team that got inspired by George in the ramp up to The Lego Movie II or is getting its chest wet to go all in and will soon  go after Flickr and other websites where LEGOgraphy is being shared and claim back all their bricks. Imagine.

In the meantime, if your work have been taken down on any site, don’t hesitate to share your legal notice take down letter and tag it with #legodoesalucasltd or let us know in the comments below.

All we ask is that their should be fair play.

To be continued …

 

* The original art work in the header is owned by the LEGO group and created by the artist Jung Von Matt for the minimalistic Imagine series. It has been selected for its journalistic relevance as it is unclear if LEGO claims the intellectual property on all turtles or just the Ninja ones.

CC: Creative Class

I appreciate yesterdays post by Me2 . It was a thoughtful response to the article about artist Christopher Boffoli and his legal actions against Pinterest.

This is a complicated issue that has many sides and Me2 has addressed just a few of them. Sure we need to think out side the box to make sure that artists are credited fairly for their artistic creation be it a photograph, a movie or a song as it is passed around the internet. But lets call all of this what it really is…content. We are all content creators. With every Instagram post, pin to Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter update…rest assured , we are creating content that Big Inc. is packaging and selling right back to us.

Me2 says we should all get on board and share freely with an updated distribution model, just like the music and movie industry has done. That may be well and true, but the last I saw, this issue is still up for debate, especially in the music industry. Most middle level and beginning musicians still have not cracked the money question.

Prime example of this is the band Pomplamoose who’s lead singer, Jack Conte, wrote an article detailing the band’s touring costs that was picked up by Tech Crunch.  The gist of the article was about how   a modestly successful mid level band can’t make money when they tour and that they have to think out side the box to make ends meet. The article was roundly criticized on many fronts and I think the heart of what Jack had to say was overlooked in this firestorm. The concept of a “creative class”; that group of artists that does whatever it takes to keep the lights on by creating content to distribute via the internet to their fans. This creative class may not lead the glamorous life of JayZ and Beyonce, but it can be a rewarding one.

I think it is in the best interest of the Big Inc.’s  of the world to support these content creators (je: us) by creating new ways to address copyright concerns. How tough can it be to educate their users about the correct way to Pin, Post, Tumble etc so that artists can benefit from their work being shared.

If we want the internets to remain a lively place to interact and share unique and original content, lets do more to protect the content creators…us.

~ xxsjc

Do you think of yourself as a member of the “creative class”?

Do you care that Big Inc makes money off of your creative endeavors? 

CC: Censorship and Copyright

Copyright and Censorship

There are a few things that can get you in trouble these days.

The excessive use of naked boobs and the elaborated use of corporate owned brand items which are considered part of our day to day lives, like Stormtroopers, Armani suits and LEGO bricks.

Those of you that have traveled along with me the last few years will know that I care a lot about these CC (censorship and copyright) topics and will not step away from a healthy battle with big Inc. on this and  jump the barricades of protests.

It has been a topic that I silently protest by tagging most of my working titles with a simple to show a silent inobedience with some of the principles of big Inc. while recognizing that almost everything in our world is trademarked, protected and copyrighted by the same big Inc. we all work for in one way or the other.

So, when Shelly posted the battle of Christoffer in Seattle of the “small” artist against big Inc. Pinterest I could only support the idea, yet I was baffled at the same time.

We should be happy our work is being shared, it is all about the true CC, the Creative Commons, even if Pinterest is making money of it.

It is about other people liking our work, sharing it, printing it, using it as their desktop image and being our biggest promoters, ambassadors, LEGO junkies and lovers alike, spreading the word.

But it fails.

We seem to be caught up in the classic battle of big Inc. ourselves trying to protect an age old copyright idea that is out dated and not working. We seem to be battling for the pennies while the true holy grail is ahead of us.

When Google and Siri can answer all my questions, why can a smart engineer in Silicon Valley not come up with a universal creative commons widget that shows the real artist who shot the picture and make that the universal standard on the web regardless where my picture is shown.

The algorithm shouldn’t be that difficult as big Inc. already uses it to traces their own copyrighted material and our jpeg contain a lot of exif data already.

I love my pictures to be shown everywhere, and a simple loop back to me as the original artist would solve a lot of these discussions as the intrinsic “likes” of our images being shared would be a correct value of its popularity and influence (and we we can then even talk dollars later) and would get rid of that ugly watermark on our pictures at the same time.

Just like the film and music industry (and their artists) had to rediscover their distribution model in the last few years (just think about itunes, you tube, spotify, netflix, or google for that matter, … ) and rethink the classical questions of copyright protection, so should we also see what the new digital era and easy availability of professional grade glass and cameras and usage of images means to our industry, and our artistic rights.

Images will be shared, images will be copied, and people will forget to credit. We can fight it with big ugly logos and ugly copyrights, or sent invoices to the big Inc. who used our image and take them to court.

Or we could start thinking out of the box and spread the love of our photos with a creative commons and see what the future can do for us.

I am a big believer of embracing the CC model and see what the future can do for us.

What about you ?

Any valley developer out there that is willing to change the world and make this universal CC widget ?

Are you already sharing your work with a CC license and make it work for you ?

Me2

 

The featured picture was shot on IG in 2012 as a silent protest for IG blocking boobs shots while they were recognized as truly artistic value and actually just showed the work of Daniel Josefsohn.