Exact copies of guitars - OK, or uncool?

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by Hollowway, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. Curt

    Curt Where we're going we don't need neck pickups

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    Personal ownership does, just not private property. In that case private property generally referring to capital/means of production. Intellectual property in communist ideals, is something to be shared, because it is their belief that every idea created is a product of society, and will better serve society if it is shared and improved upon. Now of course, the problem with this is that once you make it okay to share, that whole notion of it being improved upon can't always be guaranteed, and in the case of these chinese copies, they never improve upon said idea.
     
  2. Lorcan Ward

    Lorcan Ward 7slinger Contributor

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    A few people have said that the Aliexpress Blackmachine is a clear clone and nobody would be fooled that its an actual Doug made one but someone in the UK bought one of these and sold it for double disguised as a Siggery build.
     
  3. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    lol fraud is wrong. But also consumers that don’t know any better is lol. But also siggery. Your story had everything.
     
  4. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    People keep using the word "fraud", but I think there needs to be a distinction between an actual fraud (trying to pass something off as something it's not) vs. a copy. I don't think anyone is really ok with the idea of copying something with the goal of tricking people into thinking it's the "real" deal. But a copy is not a "fraud" unless it's being sold as something it's not. There's no trickery or scamming or fraud going on if everyone is upfront about what's being dealt with.
     
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  5. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Semantics.

    These are meant to be close enough to be used to con people. They've been doing it with Gibson and Fender designs since at least the 1980's.

    Just because someone knowingly buys a fake for themselves for shits and giggles doesn't mean that the same entity isn't making all kinds of stuff to be used in scams, willfully and purposefully.

    Why support that financially?
     
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  6. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    That's what I mean about being explicit about what you mean by certain terms. I think it's clear that people aren't behind the idea of conning people. But lots of people are ok with copies outside of that context (either being very clear about being copies, or just for personal use, etc).

    I certainly wouldn't want to support someone trying to con people -> like I've seen some jem copies floating around in this area, and I'm not the biggest fan of that. But I'd be 100% down for a builder who could make me an accurate high quality clone of something with their own name on the headstock. I have a neck on one of my guitars that's clearly a ripoff of the tree-of-life inlay, and it's build roughly to the same spec as a jem, but it doesn't have Ibanez written anywhere on it, and it wasn't finished in such a way as to look convincingly like an original Ibanez neck. It's just the inlay and the neck shape. I'm cool with that. It's attached to a body that is far enough from anything Ibanez would make that you'd never mistake it anyway.
     
  7. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    We keep saying "nuanced," but perhaps "multifaceted" is a more accurate word. These topics are all related, but still different topics. It all fits under a sort of umbrella of dishonesty in manufacturing.

    When a builder makes an exact replica of another guitar design, but applied their own brand name on the headstock, it's saying "this is ______'s design" in some way. The logo lays claim. If the design is not their own, it's dishonest.
    When a builder makes an exact replica of another guitar design, but applies no logo at all, it's apparent that the builder did not want association with the product, probably for fear of the legal repercussions resultant from breaking IP protection laws, so it's dishonest in a sneaky way.
    When a builder makes an exact replica including the logo of another design, it's counterfeiting.

    If a builder makes a guitar that has distinct features and happens to look similar to another design, there are usually IP issues, but IMO, that's another discussion than "Exact copies of guitars - OK or uncool" like in the thread title.

    ----------------

    The argument that a Blackmachine is just an Ibanez RG with a large number of design tweaks really doesn't resonate with me. I know it sounds really uncool when I say this, but here it goes anyway, trying to force the equivalency between Blackmachine and Ibanez in order to justify the production of cheap knockoff Fakemachines is just a transparently rhetorical excuse to get around what we all know is not ethical and not legal. You guys can all click like as much as you want on posts that say that, but it doesn't mean that the manufacturers making these copies are doing things right. The best evidence for the fact that many of these fakemachine manufacturers are scammers is the fact that so many of them are not making anything of notable quality. Also arguments that people who see the Fakemachines in a negative light are only Periphery fans or djent people is just plain off the mark. I've never looked into purchasing a Blackmachine, I don't djent, and I listen to every kind of heavy music and beyond. But I'm against theft, period.
     
  8. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    That's probably where I draw the line - I don't have any personal feelings or attachment to particular brands or anything like that, so it wouldn't bother me if someone made instruments that are 100% like other instruments (legality or "fairness" aside, I just mean I'm not bothered by it on a personal level). It's like you say - the layer of dishonesty attached to it. If I went to a builder and asked to make a guitar, and they could pull off a clone that's just as good or better than the original - and I don't doubt that something made by hand has the potential to be miles ahead of something off a factory line - then I can't fault that situation. Everything is upfront, there's no question of shady quality, nobody is trying to pass something off as something it's not. I know someone who has a cheap clone of a Kirk Hammet signature, and it's very clearly just a cheap rip off / cash in kind of deal -> It doesn't present itself as a clone or a "like the original, but I did it better", it's pretty blatantly trying to pass as the original. And the quality is super low. The intent is shady and the presentation is dishonest.
     
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  9. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    In the real world we currently inhabit, the "builders", using that term very loosely, of these Blackmachine and Mayones and JEM and Gibson clones are doing it as part of a larger scheme to defraud folks.

    That's just how it's been for decades.

    This isn't some small time builder trying to make decent copies for the poor like some kind of guitar Robin Hood.

    Like I said originally, there is a difference between copies and forgeries, and these MIC heaps are firmly in the forgery category.

    That's really the heart of this discussion as that was the impetus of this thread.

    Between Ormsby and Skervesen, if folks want an affordable Blackmachine clone that's not made by con artists they can get one. There is no excuse to support the fraudsters.
     
  10. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    I guess the raptor the hype machine doesn't bother me as much as other people. I was also around during the initial black machine phase when the guitars were only 3k with a waiting list.

    Ya, the newer builders could be more forthright in their inspiration. But, that's true of most guitar stuff.

    Is it really theft though? Doug's not losing any sales...he makes 1.2 guitars a year and everyone is sold before it's even finished.

    If you invent something that's amazing that's cool..but if you leave a gap in the market place someone is going to fill it. I'm ok with that.
     
  11. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    At the same time, it's hard to fault someone finding a way to get their hands on something they otherwise couldn't obtain. Some of the prices for instruments like these, or signatures, customs, whatever else have you, are painfully high. I don't fall in the camp of "everyone's entitled to get what they want by whatever means", but I recognize that it's going to happen regardless. Just like with media piracy -> someone is going to try to find a way to justify it. On one hand I want to say that nobody deserves to just have whatever they want, that you can't justify piracy and cheap clones and things like that. On the other hand, I've been the 16 year old with an internet connection and no income, but still managed to get my hands on any video game or album that I wanted. It's easy to say piracy and copies and things like that are bad when you have access to those things. I could decide to suck it up and buy a $4k guitar if I wanted (it would be financially damaging to myself, but I could do it), but it's much harder to argue about what someone should or shouldn't have when you're struggling to live within your means. Granted that also means you have bigger problems, and it doesn't really justify anything in the long run - but I know that when you want something you can't obtain, all manner of mental/reasoning gymnastics are inevitably going to happen to make piracy or copies ok for that situation.
     
  12. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    I still don't understand why people go for this particular type of cheap clone though. There are plenty of decent guitars you could get for 400 bucks new or used that don't need as much work, that hold value better, and are built by brands with a good history.

    I think for all the hoopla about music piracy...it's not a typical case of counterfeiting. People didn't want free music so much as they wanted easy access to music. The jump on board digital delivery for the studios should have taken years not a decades.
     
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  13. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    It's easy to fault people for financially supporting scammers. See, I'm doing it right now. :lol:
     
  14. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    :lol: Yes, I get what you mean. I just mean that I'd find it harder to be critical of, say, a 16 year old getting their hands on a cheap copy of a sig for their favorite artist because it's the best they can do - as opposed to say an established 30-something who just doesn't feel like justifying the larger expense. Just my :2c: On both cases, I can absolutely still fault the seller though.
     
  15. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    :agreed:
    $400 for a BM clone, often times gets you a $100-200 guitar with $10 worth of BM aesthetics, whereas an entry level Ibanez or Schecter or Jackson gets you a somewhat decent product on a functional level with generic aesthetics.
    In the 80's and 90's, it just mean that if you wanted something cool on a budget, you'd get stickers or spraypaint and go to town on that $100 guitar.
    I also think that the glut in music piracy was a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy by the record companies. They were so afraid of digital piracy that they purposely restricted convenience, but not in any smart ways, which just made it more of a hassle to obtain their products, which left more room for piracy. It doesn't justify it in any absolute sense, but it is a cause-effect that seems rather obvious in retrospect, and, probably was rather obvious even at the time, for anyone who wasn't completely out of touch with the digital information realm of things.
    Also, a lot of pirated materials seem to be focused on pre-release. If the only way to obtain something is through dishonest means (whether we are talking about a movie, album, or a boutique guitar), people will try to get it that way.

    I think where we differ on the forum into two camps is:

    1. The group who thinks the above ethically justifies the practice.
    2. The group who thinks the above does not ethically justify the practice.

    I fall into group 2. You don't need that BM copy, or that pirated album, or to sneak into that cinema that's screening the pre-release of the new superhero movie. Maybe you would buy a real BM if you could afford it or maybe not - I don't see how it makes it okay. Maybe you would buy the new album if the record companies didn't have their heads up their assess - I don't see how that makes it okay. Maybe you would pay for that pre-screening ticket if you could - I don't see how it makes it okay.

    If group one sees it as making it okay, and group two doesn't then that's the case for why this thread is a day old and is going on five pages of posts with people trying to explain back and forth, but, as with any debate on ethics, there is a lot of subjective stuff going on. Just because I don't understand how an explanation makes something okay doesn't mean I'm right and you're wrong, it just means that I don't see it the same way you do, and vice versa. Maybe there is no absolute way to come to a logical conclusion over what's morally right or wrong, and I'm okay with that. We all live in different cultures that value different things with different levels of priority. I could make the case that cultures that placed a high value on IP ownership protection had some of the fastest-growing economies, but I acknowledge that post hoc is not equivalent to propter hoc, so it's a weak argument at best in a discussion where every point is at least a little bit gray and logically nebulous.
     
  16. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    The seller wouldn't be around without the buyers.

    Empathizing with the buyers doesn't absolve them of the shitty decision they made.
     
  17. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    OT: I can understand music piracy though. I don't think people are going to behave ethically just because it's the ethical thing to do. Especially if the path of least resistance is the un-ethical thing. That doesn't mean people prefer to o the un-ethical thing. Labels dragged their feet for over a decade..during which time people got used to low quality free music. Now you can't charge more then 12 dollars a month for spotify. whoops.

    I can understand the strandberg copy thing even if I don't agree with all of lewis's explanations. There are almost no headless guitars under 1k. The ghost is pretty terrible and below that are the 2 chinese shapes. I think there's definitely a market for a unique chinese shape since all the hardware is the same...but path of least resistance is to make something that looks familiar.

    BM I don't get. Because, most of the people here have never played one or even looked at one in reality. So, you are literally getting a headstocked guitar with a specific shape.

    Now, my personal feeling on guitar ip is that...Guitars are so simple I'm not sure what there is to actually protect. I don't think shapes are protectable. Headstocks have brand identity. Something like the frankenstrat design has brand identity. The enduraneck is patented because it's actually unique.

    When you buy a boutique guitar are you buying it because of the shape or are you buying it because you believe in the handiwork of the builder?
     
  18. Lemonbaby

    Lemonbaby SS.org Regular

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    Just out of pure interest and as I couldn't dig out anything with Google: is there a patent or trademark protecting the Blackmachine design?
     
  19. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    of course not. if there was we wouldn't be having this conversation. We'd be burning witches.

    Like if this guitar had an enduraneck.
    That being said, I wonder how much the patent actually covers. Overload has an aysmetrical trapezoid profile they'll do now.
     
  20. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I mean, the unethical path is always easier, in the short term, otherwise it wouldn't exist. It's easier to go rob a bank than to do hard work and diligently save your money for years, too, so I don't see what your point proves.

    TBH, I didn't think @lewis 's guitar was really as much a part of this problem as the discussion around it would lead us all to believe, but it is related. For the record, I believe he's had to replace a significant amount of hardware on it and I'm not sure how satisfied he is with it at this point in time.

    I'm not sure I follow this paragraph.

    A company making a guitar that is clearly a blackmachine copy is obviously cashing in on brand recognition. If the order form for the guitar gives an option for a counterfeit logo, I think the finer points of rhetorical discussion fly right out the window into oncoming traffic. One simply can't lean on the argument that it's not necessarily a copy of another guitar when a vast majority of people familiar with the real thing recognize it as a copy, especially when the builder offers it with or without a fraudulent logo.

    Say someone makes a headless with a shape that minimizes weight or maximizes ergonomics or something, I can buy, at least initially, the idea that the guitar's resemblance to another is purely accidental. But, if the manufacturer slaps a "Steinberger" logo on the thing, or even a "Stineberger" or "Styneburger" or whatever, you get my drift, ... logo, it'd be absurd to say that the resemblance is accidental.

    I'm no legal expert, but I don't believe so. There's no (TM) nor (R) nor anything like that appearing anywhere on Blackmachine's guitars, website, etc.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018

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