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Old 01-18-11, 11:52 PM   #1
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Is it illegal to reproduce decals for vintage frames????

I am restoring vintage frames original paint re-chrome and I would also like to do decals of course to complete it. I was just wondering if you produce them yourself you need some kind of license or something or can you just do it since it is something you can just buy.
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Old 01-18-11, 11:56 PM   #2
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I'm sure you can find them on the net or eBay.
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Old 01-19-11, 12:02 AM   #3
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Technically, it isn't legal to make them for profit, but not one-offs for your own use.

Regardless, nobody has gone after Cyclemondo, HLloyd's, or Velocals - nobody in the legal departments of whoever might own the trademarks have put a stop to it, thank god. Lord knows the PR department would have an earful the next morning from irate C&V'ers demanding accurate decals directly from the present trademark holder.

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Old 01-19-11, 12:05 AM   #4
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It is not illegal.
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Old 01-19-11, 12:25 AM   #5
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^ And good thing it isn't - or shouldn't be - either. After waiting a month, I finally got an email back from Casati as to my query regarding obtaining a set of vintage decals from them for my restoration. Apparently, they have none; hard to believe, but straight from the horse's mouth, as it were. Bummer...

Guess I'll have to trace them, then have them done up for me.

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Old 01-19-11, 12:55 AM   #6
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So is there any way to have permission to remake them? or would it be legal let say if you would offer paint and decals for the same price??
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Old 01-19-11, 01:06 AM   #7
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Technically, it isn't legal to make them for profit, but not one-offs for your own use.

Regardless, nobody has gone after Cyclemondo, HLloyd's, or Velocals - nobody in the legal departments of whoever might own the trademarks have put a stop to it, thank god. Lord knows the PR department would have an earful the next morning from irate C&V'ers demanding accurate decals directly from the present trademark holder.

-Kurt
This^^

Worked at a sign/decal shop.
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Old 01-19-11, 01:24 AM   #8
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Not for your own use.
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Old 01-19-11, 01:33 AM   #9
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Technically, unless the decal reproduction companies have agreements with the original copyright holders, what they're doing IS illegal. I won't tell if you don't tell though.
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Old 01-19-11, 01:40 AM   #10
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In many cases, the legality of reproduction decals is going to be an incredibly complex issue that would probably require months of research to definitively answer 'yes' or 'no' to... Consider these example complicating factors:

Many of the manufacturers have passed on in the meantime, which would cause the copyrights in the decals to revert to some other owner, who you'd have to track down. In the US that owner is going to be the artist who did the work (or their heirs or assigns), but who knows what it's like in Italy, Japan, or where-have you.

Many of the manufacturers are located in other countries, so add on the complexity of the home country's copyright laws and the applicability of international copyright treaties. O_o

+1 to what Kurt said; thank goodness nobody cares. The chance of somebody pressing charges or suing over C&V repop decals is basically zero. :-D

If you start selling knockoff modern Cervelo decals, encouraging your buyers to use them to pass off other bikes as Cervelo bikes... then maybe you should worry!

Last edited by MrEss; 01-19-11 at 01:44 AM. Reason: shorten this novel
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Old 01-19-11, 05:30 AM   #11
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Many of the manufacturers have passed on in the meantime, which would cause the copyrights in the decals to revert to some other owner, who you'd have to track down. In the US that owner is going to be the artist who did the work (or their heirs or assigns), but who knows what it's like in Italy, Japan, or where-have you.
This presumption is incorrect. The copyright will definitely not revert to the artist, unless specifically and contractually set up that way to begin with. Copyright ownership would remain in the hands of corporate or sole proprietor ownership and would pass on to legal heirs or to the individuals and entities who might later acquire said copyright, trademark, service mark, etc. A product trademark is a very, very valuable asset; modern corporations are often very aggressive in pursuing any instances they deem a "watering down" of, or infringement upon, their intellectual property and corporate image. When I was an art director at Hallmark, for instance, the company always went after groups who claimed to be "the Hallmark of bus lines" or "the Hallmark of ...whatever." Some went so far as to use the Hallmark logo, reasoning that do so was actually some kind of complimentary gesture! I'm certain Mercedes-Benz does the same thing. Closer to the topic, some companies in the bicycle world have been acquired by new owners - Rene Herse, for example. Along with the assets of the company, the new owners also have acquired the very valuable name, trademark, and logo. I feel confident in saying that they wouldn't want just any Tom, Dick or Harry applying their name onto the side of a Huffy. Now I know that this isn't the intention of folks in this group, but look at it from their point of view: such an act would negatively affect the opinion of someone who innocently purchased that hypothetical Herse/Huffy later on.

In actual practice, the folks who are selling us those decals are violating copyright and trademark laws, domestically and internationally. Even I, in applying decals for my own personal use, am on somewhat shaky ground, particularly if I eventually sell my freshly signed bicycle. But - as pointed out above - this isn't the French Connection, and most litigators have bigger fish to fry; clearly the intention is legitimate restorations. Just don't be surprised if (more likely, "when") some enterprising young corporate attorney eventually sends out a "Cease and Desist" letter on fine corporate stationary to one of these decal makers. In the meantime, let's enjoy our ability to bring our vintage rides back to the finery they had when they originally rolled off the show room floor.
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Old 01-19-11, 06:35 AM   #12
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I am restoring vintage frames original paint re-chrome and I would also like to do decals of course to complete it. I was just wondering if you produce them yourself you need some kind of license or something or can you just do it since it is something you can just buy.
It's technically illegal but if you are just restoring an old Colnago by putting Colnago decals on it, I wouldn't worry about it. If you were fixing up Huffys and putting Colnago decals on, that would be a big problem.

Which bikes do you need decals for? we need pictures.
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Old 01-19-11, 08:24 AM   #13
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This presumption is incorrect. The copyright will definitely not revert to the artist, unless specifically and contractually set up that way to begin with. Copyright ownership would remain in the hands of corporate or sole proprietor ownership and would pass on to legal heirs or to the individuals and entities who might later acquire said copyright, trademark, service mark, etc. A product trademark is a very, very valuable asset; modern corporations are often very aggressive in pursuing any instances they deem a "watering down" of, or infringement upon, their intellectual property and corporate image. When I was an art director at Hallmark, for instance, the company always went after groups who claimed to be "the Hallmark of bus lines" or "the Hallmark of ...whatever." Some went so far as to use the Hallmark logo, reasoning that do so was actually some kind of complimentary gesture! I'm certain Mercedes-Benz does the same thing. Closer to the topic, some companies in the bicycle world have been acquired by new owners - Rene Herse, for example. Along with the assets of the company, the new owners also have acquired the very valuable name, trademark, and logo. I feel confident in saying that they wouldn't want just any Tom, Dick or Harry applying their name onto the side of a Huffy. Now I know that this isn't the intention of folks in this group, but look at it from their point of view: such an act would negatively affect the opinion of someone who innocently purchased that hypothetical Herse/Huffy later on.

In actual practice, the folks who are selling us those decals are violating copyright and trademark laws, domestically and internationally. Even I, in applying decals for my own personal use, am on somewhat shaky ground, particularly if I eventually sell my freshly signed bicycle. But - as pointed out above - this isn't the French Connection, and most litigators have bigger fish to fry; clearly the intention is legitimate restorations. Just don't be surprised if (more likely, "when") some enterprising young corporate attorney eventually sends out a "Cease and Desist" letter on fine corporate stationary to one of these decal makers. In the meantime, let's enjoy our ability to bring our vintage rides back to the finery they had when they originally rolled off the show room floor.
A nuance that is important to acknowledge is that if the trademark is not protected in every way, in every case, even from some little collector/restorer guy, then that fact can be used by other trademark violators in a court case. This is why corporations are constantly going after little guys for seemingly innocuous transgressions - if they let them slide, it could come back to haunt them. Overaggressive lawyers take it from there.
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Old 01-19-11, 09:11 AM   #14
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A nuance that is important to acknowledge is that if the trademark is not protected in every way, in every case, even from some little collector/restorer guy, then that fact can be used by other trademark violators in a court case. This is why corporations are constantly going after little guys for seemingly innocuous transgressions - if they let them slide, it could come back to haunt them. Overaggressive lawyers take it from there.
+1

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Old 01-19-11, 09:21 AM   #15
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One more point often misunderstood is that "for profit" has nothing to do with it. Copyrighted material cannot be distributed to the public, either free or for profit. You cannot, for example, make a zillion copies of your favorite DVDs and distribute them for free. At least in the entertainment business private use is allowed for material you already own. "Publication", i.e. distribution to the public is not.
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Old 01-19-11, 09:31 AM   #16
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One more point often misunderstood is that "for profit" has nothing to do with it. Copyrighted material cannot be distributed to the public, either free or for profit. You cannot, for example, make a zillion copies of your favorite DVDs and distribute them for free. At least in the entertainment business private use is allowed for material you already own. "Publication", i.e. distribution to the public is not.
+1 Napster

Of course we are definitely walking a fine line. It is illegal for us to buy and use the "counterfeit" decals, but isn't it also illegal to post catalogs and such on sites like Velobase. The trick is, will the true owners of that material ever come after us. Personally, I doubt it.

However, I won't be surprised if the people who own the Herse name go after Velocals or other decal makers.

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Old 01-19-11, 09:33 AM   #17
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Old 01-19-11, 09:38 AM   #18
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The question is, are you planning on selling the bike? Because even if you're restoring it with decals from the same bike as it is, if you go claiming it as original when you sell it, then no it's not legal. But no one here would do that anyway, right, so I guess that didn't need to be said.
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Old 01-19-11, 09:40 AM   #19
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Technically, it isn't legal to make them for profit, but not one-offs for your own use.

Regardless, nobody has gone after Cyclemondo, HLloyd's, or Velocals - nobody in the legal departments of whoever might own the trademarks have put a stop to it, thank god. Lord knows the PR department would have an earful the next morning from irate C&V'ers demanding accurate decals directly from the present trademark holder.

-Kurt
Exactly right.

In the real world a company would only be interested in going after you if selling the reproductions was interfering with their profits in some way...either by causing branding problems or undercutting their sale of their own decals. Since none of these companies sells their decals, there is no real motive for them to be interested. Actually I think it's quite the contrary...beautiful restorations with their branding adds to their value and makes it look like their current bikes might have classic status some day too...and stand up to the test of time.

If a company were printing off Trek logos and applying them to old Huffys...Trek might be interested. If the people buying Trek logos were mostly applying them to old Huffys, they might be interested. They aren't going to have any reason to object to people restoring their Treks with Trek logos. Actually I'd think they'd encourage it.
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Old 01-19-11, 09:46 AM   #20
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Harley Davidson doesn't sue any people for trademark infringement when they are tattooing the copyrighted logos on their bodies...
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Old 01-19-11, 10:03 AM   #21
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These issues get batted around on the CR list fairly often. For example, here's Richard Sachs' take:

http://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.as...10212.0435.eml

I do remember that a few years ago Cyclomondo/Greg Softley was shut down for a while due to some legal issues, apparently now resolved.

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Old 01-19-11, 10:04 AM   #22
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Harley Davidson doesn't sue any people for trademark infringement when they are tattooing the copyrighted logos on their bodies...
They call that free advertising!

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Old 01-19-11, 10:12 AM   #23
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If decals are NOT available commercially you can reproduce them legally for your own use. You don't have any rights to reproduce them for others uses, either for free or profit.
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Old 01-19-11, 10:13 AM   #24
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These issues get batted around on the CR list fairly often. For example, here's Richard Sachs' take:

http://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.as...10212.0435.eml

Neal
These days anyone with Photoshop and a color laser printer can make exact replicas of anything using waterslide decal paper. I wonder if Sachs is upset now that he's not the only one with the control over these decals and anyone can put them on the incorrect Masi (or a Schwinn, for that matter?)
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Old 01-19-11, 10:43 AM   #25
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Couldn't one make the argument that the restoration of a vintage bike has a "history" element? I mean, if I write a report on George Washington I'm not violating copyright by including his photo am I? Repro decals get made all the time for cars...why not bikes?

I agree with the "small fish in a big pond" argument...God knows there are more important things in the grand scheme of life and business than a bunch of crazy guys making 20,30,40+ year old bicycles look nice. Geez, if anything I'd think the manufacturers should be honored that someone though so much of their product that they cared enough to do it!
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