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I know this is a touchy subject, but reading a rather lengthy thread off of AirDailyX, I wanted to post something that made a lot of sense and it's something to ponder.  Here is a reply made by a member named T.J. Streak ( giving credit where due) made on the subject and I encourage you to read it as it makes a lot of sense:


Back to this again?

But let's be honest. "Piracy" is pretty rampant and it is far more widespread than most people in the hobby are willing to acknowledge. Have you ever downloaded a livery or an aircraft from AVSIM or a similar site? Because, if you have, you are a "pirate." Because, AVSIM and similar sites are pirate sites, little different from the Pirate Bay.

Let me explain. Airlines, at the very least, have a trademark in their liveries. They may even have a copyright on their liveries. Aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Lockheed have copyrights on their aircraft designs under current law.

This is the reason Microsoft did not include real world liveries in flight simulator and why we have fictional airlines like World Travel and Sucuba. Microsoft and its lawyers simply did not want to negotiate licenses with every airline to use their liveries.

Similarly, the rights to an aircraft design are owned by the manufacturer, so Microsoft had to negotiate licenses for each aircraft it included in Flight Simulator. For a large company like Microsoft, birddogging the actual owners of a copyright and licensing the rights to use that material is both time consuming and expensive.

This is not only true for digital models, but for plastic ones as well. Most plastic aircraft models are made outside of the United States because aircraft manufacturers demand steep royalties. It just is not possible to price the product at a level to cover the licensing costs -- so the manufacturers cheat.

Likewise, with railroads, model railroad manufacturers pay a royalty to a railroad for using its livery. Some railroads, like the Union Pacific, derive considerable revenues from these royalties.

I suspect if you check around, you will discover that many of the developers of aircraft, liveries, and yes scenery (after all the plans to an airport are going to be owned by the architects or the operating authority), have secured licenses to make their products. But I suspect many have not; which means that those developers are pirates as well.

Sometimes, the piracy committed by developers is unintentional. For example, the developer of X-Plane is being sued for pirating a copy protection scheme. While his pirating of the copy protection scheme was innocent, he still failed to secure the rights to use it. He had a duty to investigate whether he actually could use the product without first paying for it. Like it or not, this means Laminar Research is a pirate.

Most hobbyists feel that they can make models of any plane they want, or make liveries for any aircraft, or afcads of any airport and simply upload them to a site like AVSIM. But they do not. Downloading a livery from AVSIM is no different than downloading a Britney Spears song from the Pirate Bay.

People ranting about "piracy" (which is an inaccurate and misleading term, by the way) really need to look at their own behavior and ask whether they have committed acts of "piracy" before they accuse their fellow hobbyists of being thieves. Sometimes it just sounds like a case of the pot calling the kettle "black."


So it's all about licensing and permission.  Good point and at the same time, you have to think about what you support, who you support and most importantly, are you exacerbating the issue by committing the same wrong doings?  I know I am guilty of using company logos in my work, but I never made one red cent from it, so is it still harmful to do so?  I'd have no problem providing credit to a corporation if I knew it wouldn't take so much red tape, but I do believe the answer provided by said company would be " go ahead and use it as long as you are not profiting"...the operative word here is "believe".  I think many do what they do in fear of hearing the answer "no".  We grew up from our small beginnings knowing that the word 'no' is bad and usually hearing the word 'no' was something we didn't want to hear ("time for your bath!"..."no!", "eat your vegetables!"..."no!")


I also think many don't take the disclaimers seriously enough.  T.J. made a statement about Microsoft using fake airline names to avoid the legal issues involved with using real world airlines.  I am sure they spent a ton of money in licensing fees for the aircraft manufacturers alone.


A final thought:  think about it next time when you download anything from a website that isn't vetted, sanctioned and/or licensed from the source for the wares they provide, such as AVSIM, since it is so popular and the pre-eminent flight sim resource (no opinion there, just statistical).  I believe that even sites that provide everything free has already broken a law at some point, right?


Bottom line to all of this:  Who is willing to band the torch-carrying, pitchfork-wielding mob together and attack a site over copyright?  It may be a ticking timebomb waiting to explode.


Just my two cents, as usual.

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I won't dispute your statement, but at the same time, anything created in Flight Sim that has a corporate identity could be at risk of infringement so with that said, the question of whether the devs get the required permission prior to selling a product with that particular identity attached may be an issue.  I an currently check this out with an airline to see what the legal standpoint is, for one out of curiosity and two, because I have created repaints in the past (but not for monetary gain) and would like to know the legalities.  i realized that the heart of the argument is dealing with piracy of add-on creators' stuff, and again, can spill over to the corporate identity.  PMDG is a great example of a dev who has not only done extensive research on established designs from a manufacturer, but has also taken the appropriate legal steps to cover themselves releasing a commercial product that has the backing of the manufacturer (ex. Boeing).


While the above post does not make the distinction, it really doesn't matter when the issue of piracy comes about.  PMDG, ORBX, FlyTampa, etc. all weather the piracy storm.  They know it exists, they know it cannot be stopped, but there are technologies in place to combat it.  For example, PMDG now has a manager that is used for downloading their products and registration is done within the flight sim to identify the product and who it is licensed to, which if the product becomes pirated, precautions are in place to deter piracy as the owner would run out of activations or red flags would be in place to question who owns what.  I know Flightbeam uses a third-party utility to register and initialize their products as well, so the question goes back to the devs who are crying foul if they can afford to put protective measures in place to combat the problem of piracy.  I'd be curious to see what their response would be on that.

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It's possible fair use might apply to non-commercial airline liveries, particularly if their modeling was considered to be artistic or a form of commentary. Since it's very rare for an airline to object, I suspect that many of their lawyers agree.

Fair use also could apply to models of entire aircraft, especially since factual information such as performance specs is not copyrightable.

Fair use is also significant here, since none of these uses interfere with the profitability of an airline or aircraft manufacturing.

The Laminar situation is very different. Laminar didn't copy their protection scheme, they inadvertently infringed on a patent owned by a company that produces nothing but patents, and are attempting to have patent invalidated, which happens fairly often. That is in no way piracy.

Not a lawyer, but knowlegeable.

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I believe  downloading a PMDG 777 for free is a completely different matter to downloading livery which was initially given away for free. Downloading a livery and downloading a PMDG 737 without paying is perfectly ok, provided the creator of the work gave it away free to begin with , and never asked for payment for it's use. It is illegal to download the PMDG 777 from a pirated source, as doing so would cause the company a financial loss, of that particular sale. So downloading a free livery from AVISIM and downloading a pay ware aircraft are completely different in that matter. Downloading a free livery will cause no financial loss to it's creator, so it is not technically piracy, and the fact it may contain copyright content owned by a real world airline, is not piracy, as it would fall under copyright infringement, and the two are distinctly different.


However, I also do not believe that creating a free livery and based on a real world airline, would have any problem working it's way around a copyright claim, as it would neither cause financial loss to the company, or cause confusion between the creator of the livery and the airline it's self. This is why many virtual airlines are closed down as they can arguably cause confusion over which is the real ,for example, British Airways, due the way in which they are presented. However this changes when you want to sell the content you have created, as you seek to gain financially from someone else's copyrighted content, which is why developers must obtain licenses. In theory, an airline could licences out it's livery to the likes of McPhat, and claim any one who gives away a free livery is causing McPhat a financial loss, and intern causing the airline a financial loss, however due to the rights of the artist, and their ownership rights to the work, I'm not confident that such a claim would be able to hold up in a court, provided the work was freely available.


I have spent a great deal of time looking into copyrights, however my opinion is by no means professional, so if any one can contradict (with a better knowledge of the topic) one of my points, then I am more than open to accept, and correct my understanding  :)

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