OrigamiUSA is very concerned about protecting and respecting the rights of origami artists, authors, and diagrammers. While "traditional" origami models are in the public domain, the vast majority of published origami designs are of recent authorship and therefore cannot be published or used commercially without obtaining permission from their creators and/or diagrammers.
We have formulated our policy after extensive consultation with an experienced intellectual property lawyer with over 25 years experience in copyright law. On that basis, we have formulated a policy that we strive to adhere to; we strongly encourage all members of the origami community to respect the works and rights of origami artists.
Useful Information in General
The U.S. Copyright Office has an excellent faq that gives a good basic overview of copyright, how it differs from other forms of protection, and the additional protection offered by copyright registration:
Information Specific to Origami
To assist the origami community, we have developed a Frequently Asked Questions document that addresses the most common questions about copyright and origami:
We have also put together a longer version based on our lawyer's analysis that gives the underlying reasoning for our policy.
Many origami artists are very generous with giving permission for others to fold, teach, and/or display their works. But in all cases, you should ask first.
You can find additional situations described in FAQ form here:
In 2009, OrigamiUSA hosted the 2nd Conference on Copyright in Origami. You can find the agenda, slides and notes here.
If You See Infringement
If you see unauthorized origami work being sold or offered for download, the Origami Artists and Creators Group has a number of activities in support of artists' rights and provides a contact link for questions and/or reports of infringement.
Further background information on copyright in the US may be found on the official copyright page of the U.S. Copyright Office. Copyright laws vary from country to country, so check your local laws.
Obligatory Disclaimer: all information on this page (and linked from this page) is for general guidance only; for any specific situation, you should consult your own lawyer.