The internet is a great resource for finding many techniques and part usage in LEGO. Sites such as Flickr, MOCpages and LEGO Ideas hosts tens of thousands of creations and inspire builders worldwide. While it is great to discover new techniques and builds online, it is not okay to repost content and claim ownership. LEGO builders spend days, weeks and even months designing a model, acquiring pieces, building a model, and post processing. It is not fair to builders to have spent an enormous amount of time just to have their work credited to someone else in a matter of moments.
In most cases plagiarism, outside of credit, remains harmless. However when profits are involved the issue becomes even more of a problem. A handful of creations on LEGO Ideas are identical or near identical replicas of models posted on Flickr. If the “designer” were to achieved 10,000 supporters they would receive a portion of profits from each sell of the set, leaving the original creator penniless.
Stopping Plagiarism in LEGO
Fighting plagiarism in LEGO involves a few simple steps.
- If you see a model that is identical to another, comment and let the offender know they should give credit to the original builder. This also notifies other viewers that the work is not original.
- Flag or report the image, particularly on sites where financial considerations are involved.
- Contact the original designer, if possible, and they will take further action if needed.
- Post an image on the Flickr group Brick~Busters! to notify fellow builders of a plagiarized model.
Though I feel it generally is not necessary to repost someone else’s design, follow the steps below to ensure proper credit is given to the original builder.
- In the image description, clearly specify that you are not the original designer.
- Provide the name of the original builder.
- Provide a link to the original image and/or original builder’s website.
- It is also important to never post creations that are not your original design on websites that have financial considerations without permission from the original builder.
I have heard of a few LEGO builders who refuse to post their creations online out of fear of plagiarism. Their creations could have inspired thousands of builders and amazing designs. I want to continue to see new creations, free of plagiarism in the online environment. If we remain vigilant, we can limit plagiarism in LEGO, one photo at a time.