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Maine
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Just looking for some perspective on a little problem (if it even is a problem) I am having. I made a bomb prop for airsoft and paintball games using an Arduino and some other parts. I put the code and parts lists up on my website in case anyone wants to make their own, but I also sell "easy assembly" kits. I have recently learned that someone is using my code and exact parts list to make their own props for commercial resale. They didn't even bother to fix a spelling mistake I made on one of the menus.

Do I have any options here, or am I out of luck, since I made the code freely available? Or am I looking at this wrong, and its not even a problem? My code is not licensed under any open source license, but if anyone asks I tell them the following: No commercial resale, keep my current copyright header, and of course, make any changes they make freely available for others to download.
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"Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't understand the situation."

Electronic props for Airsoft, paintball, and laser tag -> www.nightscapetech.com

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Your code has full copywrite protection whether you said so or not. So unless you specifically relinquished any rights you still have them.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 03:56:51 am by Grumpy_Mike » Logged

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What else was copied?  Images?  Text from your website?
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Maine
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What else was copied?  Images?  Text from your website?


My website is horrible, so he didn't use any images or logos from it. The text is all just marketing speak right now (90% of his pages say "coming soon").
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"Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't understand the situation."

Electronic props for Airsoft, paintball, and laser tag -> www.nightscapetech.com

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So there is not a commercial product for sale from the interloper?  Has the person modified your source code (stripped the copyright notice)?
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Maine
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So there is not a commercial product for sale from the interloper?  Has the person modified your source code (stripped the copyright notice)?


He has a "store" up where he lists prices and asks people to "contact us" to order. He has not posted the code, so I can't be 100% sure. I am just going off what I can see. He is using the same keypad, LCD, and key switch as me. The prop is described as functioning just like mine, and he posted a picture of the LCD displaying a menu, that shows the same spelling error I made on my menu.
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"Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't understand the situation."

Electronic props for Airsoft, paintball, and laser tag -> www.nightscapetech.com

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This is the point where you have to decide if making props is a business or a hobby.  If it's a business, you should register the source code with the Library of Congress (I think the cost is $10), put an "all rights reserved" copyright notice on each page of your site, and contact a lawyer.

If it's a hobby, forget the schmuck.  Life's too short to sweat about the despicable people.
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Maine
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This is the point where you have to decide if making props is a business or a hobby.  If it's a business, you should register the source code with the Library of Congress (I think the cost is $10), put an "all rights reserved" copyright notice on each page of your site, and contact a lawyer.

If it's a hobby, forget the schmuck.  Life's too short to sweat about the despicable people.


Its sort of half way between a business and a hobby. I don't sell enough volume to really make it a business. If I did make it a business, I would have to sue my self for paying below minimum wage.

I'm leaning towards "forget the schmuck", he's using an older version of my code that has fewer features. The code is not that hard to write, if he couldn't even be bothered to fix some of the problems, then he probably wont be able to support his customers at all. The problem may fix itself.
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"Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't understand the situation."

Electronic props for Airsoft, paintball, and laser tag -> www.nightscapetech.com

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This is the point where you have to decide if making props is a business or a hobby.  If it's a business, you should register the source code with the Library of Congress (I think the cost is $10), put an "all rights reserved" copyright notice on each page of your site, and contact a lawyer.

If it's a hobby, forget the schmuck.  Life's too short to sweat about the despicable people.


Its sort of half way between a business and a hobby. I don't sell enough volume to really make it a business. If I did make it a business, I would have to sue my self for paying below minimum wage.

I'm leaning towards "forget the schmuck", he's using an older version of my code that has fewer features. The code is not that hard to write, if he couldn't even be bothered to fix some of the problems, then he probably wont be able to support his customers at all. The problem may fix itself.
I wouldn't worry about it. If they are not even smart enough to fix the code then they will not last long or sell many anyway.
Pretty annoying though.
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care to share a link to your original product?
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Maine
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care to share a link to your original product?

Its in my sig. http://www.nightscapetech.com. The site was just supposed to be a dev site to share the code I write for different props. The reaction to the Bomb Prop was unexpected, so I tacked on a storefront.  Filling Bomb Prop orders sort of monopolizes my time now. So many ideas, so little time.
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"Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't understand the situation."

Electronic props for Airsoft, paintball, and laser tag -> www.nightscapetech.com

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My code is not licensed under any open source license
It's a mistake not to put clear copyright notices and licensing terms in the code comments, but the law was changed several years ago to protect authors from the effects of that common mistake (it used to be that failing to affix a notice automatically dumped your code/poem/whatever into the public domain).

So, while there's always a chance of some lawyer finding a devil in the details, it sounds like your copyright is almost certainly intact and enforceable.

Unless there's the potential for a huge amount of money, I would suggest avoiding a lawyer, due to the costs.

I would also suggest approaching the infringer with the assumption that he didn't know that the code wasn't free for the taking,  because he found it on the web without a clear prohibition on commercialization. It's the most likely explanation, and, if he does turn out to be a "fly", having caught him with the "honey" of assuming it was an innocent mistake will make him easier to swat  smiley-evil
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So what does one do with these airsoft things?
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Maine
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So what does one do with these airsoft things?

I originally designed it to work like the Bomb Defusal game mode in the Counter-Strike video game:
http://counterstrike.wikia.com/wiki/Bomb_defusal

But I have had customers use them in all sorts of different scenarios. The most common is to use the prop like a game timer. A ref or game moderator arms the prop at the beginning of the game. One team has to keep the prop from being defused, while the other team has to defuse it before the time runs out. I use a key switch as the power button to prevent players from being able to reset the prop in the middle of a game. I have seen some people actually hide the key on the field as an alternative method for defusal. Some also hide the disarm code from the players, so that they must find and eliminate a VIP player, who has the defuse code printed on a card in his vest.

This was actually my "learn how to program an Arduino" project. I completed it right before I started college, which eliminated my airsoft time. So I never actually got to use the thing in a game until 3 years after I built it.

I have a Picasa web album that contains all the pictures of props that myself and others (those that have gotten back to me, that is) have built with my hardware kits:
https://picasaweb.google.com/111414989608586589374/NightScapeProjects

Or, if you were wondering what Airsoft in general is:

Thats one of the larger OPs. The field fee is $150 and someone that has been there has to vouch for you before they let you sign up. Games go anywhere from that, where some players spend upwards of $2000 on their gear, to people playing in civilian clothing with $150 guns.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 11:35:22 pm by wizdum » Logged

"Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't understand the situation."

Electronic props for Airsoft, paintball, and laser tag -> www.nightscapetech.com

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I would ignore him. My lawyer used to say things like "do they have any money?". In other words, you could spend thousands suing someone who (or whose company) has no assets anyway. So even if you win (which you couldn't be certain about) you might get nothing.

If you support your original, have better web pages, and perhaps put up a note about "beware of cheap clones" then you should do alright. After all, you know how to support it, he doesn't.
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