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Frequently Asked Questions - Copyright
Several years ago OrigamiUSA engaged a copyright lawyer with over 25 years of experience in intellectual property to look into the question of how copyright applies to origami. He wrote up a more extensive FAQ for us, which you can find on our main copyright policy page, here:
You can also download from there a copy of his analysis with footnotes and supporting reasoning.
OrigamiUSA would welcome additional investigation and/or opinions from any lawyer with substantial experience in copyright law who would be interested in some pro bono work for our non-profit organization. Please contact the copyright committee using the link on the page above.
If the figure is traditional (e.g., the crane), you can do pretty much anything you like with it!
If the figure is not traditional, then you need to secure permission from the composer of the figure.
Can I use an image of an origami figure commercially?
I found some diagrams for free on the web. Can I republish or redistribute them?
I learned an origami figure from a published source. May I teach it to someone else?
May I teach an origami figure to someone else for hire?
While there is some contention over the question of teaching a model at a convention, in general, a convention is a commercial activity (people are paying money to attend). OrigamiUSA’s policy for our conventions is that when someone is teaching someone else how to make copies of a creator’s work at an OrigamiUSA convention, permission from the creator must be obtained.
What if I “reverse-engineer” an origami design? Can I republish my own version?
What if I modify an origami design? Can I republish my own version?
I found some folding instructions in a book or on the web. May I use figures I folded myself from these instructions commercially?
If some diagrams on the web are free, doesn't that mean that they're in the public domain?
I have some diagrams. Can I make and distribute video folding instructions of them?
I got some diagrams from a web source and the person I got them from says they have resale rights. Now can I redistribute them?
I composed my own origami design and then subsequently found a published model that’s very similar. Can I publish my design?
Can I consider these questions and answers to be legal advice?