cimone (wonderfinch) wrote in egl_comm_sales,

A Guide to Illegal Replica Items

So, you've heard about these crazy illegal replicas on EGL or some other community- but you're not sure just what they are. It's okay, in lolita these terms can be pretty confusing! We have a guide (complete with images) to explain, in general, what kinds of replica items are okay- and what kinds are unacceptable. Please note that this guide is not 100% complete and does not contain an exhaustive, hard-and-fast list of what items are okay for sale, and what kinds of items aren't. If you have an item that you feel falls into a grey area or an area not covered by the guide, just PM a moderator! We're always happy to help clear up any questions you may have.

What is a replica?
A replica is any item that's meant to copy another item, and it's not always illegal. You may even have some legal replicas in your house! Converse-style sneakers and Doc-Marten-style boots are two very common legally replicated items.

What kinds of replicas are illegal?
An illegal replica, generally known as a counterfeit outside of lolita, is an item that copies another item and violates a company or individual's copyright. We don't allow the sale of these items. Producing, selling, or buying them is a violation of international law, and if we allow their sale, the entire community could get shut down. If you wish to ask questions about, review, or buy counterfeit items, take it elsewhere!

How can I tell if my item is an illegal replica?
Here are a couple of rules of thumb for determining the differences between illegal counterfeits, and acceptable replicas:
Could I find something similar or identical at a "normal" store?
Have multiple major lolita brands produced an extremely similar piece?
Is the item free of logos and original artwork?
If you answered "yes" to all of these questions, then your item is probably good for sale on the sales community.

Here are some more specific descriptions of what is and isn't okay. Please note: The photos of these items are all original brand stock photos. If an item has a green border or a checkmark next to its image or description, it's okay to sell a replica of that item (or of a similar item) here. If an item has a red border or an "x" next to its image or description, it's not okay to sell a replica of that item (or of a similar item) here.


Replicas of Clothing Designs
Generally speaking, an article of clothing like a dress or skirt or its general features (e.g. ruffles, pintucks, lace placement, collar design, etc.) aren't copyrightable. It just wouldn't be fair as these items have been around for thousands of years and no one even knows who originally made them. As a result, something that replicates a clothing pattern is generally NOT considered a counterfeit good and is okay for sale.


Replicas of Items Made Using Commercially Available Fabric
Items using fabric you can buy at any store aren't using brand-specifc print fabric, and so their replication using that fabric isn't illegal. Not sure if a print is "commercially available"? If multiple brands use it, it's probably commercially available. If you can buy it at a fabric store, it's commercially available.


Replicas of Generic Plush Animals
In the same way, it's pretty hard to copyright the generic design of a very generic animal- think a teddy bear or pony. Not sure if your animal is "generic" enough? Think of it this way: If you can buy a very similar or identical animal at a regular toy store, it's probably generic enough for you to be in the clear.


Replicas of Generic Shape Items With Logos and Artwork Removed (Brand logos have been [badly] digitally removed to show more clearly what can be legally replicated)
Replicas of Generic Shape Items With Logos and Artwork Intact
Just like clothing design elements and generic animal shapes, it's all but impossible to copyright generic shapes. This means items like star clips, heart bags, and bow brooches aren't considered illegal replicas. It is, however, illegal to copy special text or logos on generic shape items.


Replicas of Shoes
Unless a shoe features a logo or some original artwork or design feature, shoe designs can't really be copyrighted- so you're probably safe selling your replica shoe items here.


Replicas of Socks with Generic Designs
Replicas of Socks with Unique Designs
Socks are a little tricky. Socks clearly meant to replicate original print artwork, like a replica of Angelic Pretty's Miracle Candy socks, aren't allowed. Socks with very generic designs, like an extremely simple floral or stripe, are generally allowed.


Replicas of Original Print Artwork
Replicas of original print artwork aren't allowed under any circumstances. It's absolutely illegal to directly copy a print artwork and make no changes or minor changes to it (protip: taking the brand name off a print does NOT make it okay to copy). "Lookalike" or "inspired" pieces that clearly take cues from original goods without outright copying them are okay, though.


Replicas of Original Screen Prints
Replicas of Extremely Generic Screen Print Elements
Similarly, replicas of original screen prints just aren't allowed. Obviously, if the screen print is highly generic (e.g. a heart and a couple of stars), we're going to allow it, but more complex screen prints like Puppet Circus or Divine Cross are copyrighted material and can't be legally replicated.


Replicas of Original Embroidery Designs
Items Using "Stock" Embroidery Designs
Again, original embroidery designs (think: BTSSB's Flower Cart series, IW's house bag) are copyrighted material and their direct replication is illegal. With that said, there are many extremely generic or "stock" embroidery designs that can't be copyrighted and can be legally replicated. Examples include BTSSB's Ginghan Check Doll OP, which features rolled roses- a ribbon embroidery pattern that's existed for hundreds of years.


Replicas of Original Applique Designs
Items Using Extremely Generic Applique Designs
As with emboroidery, screen prints, and regular prints, original appliques are very often copyrighted- think AATP's Carousel applique or AP's Milky-Chan applique if you want appliques that are protected and illegal to replicate. With that said, extremely generic applique designs are considered uncopyrightable. Think: hearts, stars, polka dots, card suit symbols.


Replicas of Logos
(Note: AP isn't the only brand with a logo and you can have logos on things besides eco totes. These were just the most visible examples!)
Logos are almost always illegal to replicate. You can even get in trouble if you make a logo that looks too much like another company's logo- in non-lolita fashion, for instance, you may have heard that Guess got sued and forced to pull millions in products because their logo looked a little too much like Gucci's, even though it wasn't identical. The same thing applies to lolita logos like Meta's swan, AP's "AP" logo, and BTSSB's heart-shaped logo.


Replicas of Mascots and Characters
Replicas of Brand-Unique Depictions of Common Motifs
Mascots and characters are, like logos, almost always illegal to copy. These generally are specific depictions of generic motifs. Examples are things like Angelic Pretty's Shy Bear and Lyrical Bunny, Metamorphose's Rabbie-Chang (or Rab-bitch-ang), and Baby's Usakumaya. Obviously AP, Baby, and Meta don't own the rights to every single rabbit or bear in the world, but they have unique depictions and representations of these animals that they DO own the copyright to. This also extends to original depictions of non-mascot animals: think Angelic Pretty's cookie ponies, for instance. Angelic Pretty doesn't own the copyright to every pony in the world, but they clearly thought up the idea of cookie-pony jewelry and it's original enough to be considered a new, copyrightable idea.

What About Brand Fabric?
Legally Obtained Excess Yardage of Brand Prints
Commercially Available Fabrics that Brands Happen to Use
Fabric Stolen from Factories or Workers
Fabric Meant to Replicate Copyrighted Brand Print Artwork
Brand fabric generally falls into two categories: Original fabric produced by a brand, and commercially available fabric a brand happened to use. Original fabric produced by a brand is okay for sale, provided it was legitimately obtained. Examples include Jane Marple yardage obtained from an outlet sale, or Innocent World fabric obtained from a damaged dress. Stolen fabric is not okay for sale. Original prints are protected by copyright and replicas of them aren't okay for sale. We reserve the right to ask you at any time for the source of your brand fabric, and to remove it from the community if you cannot provide adequate proof of its legitimate origin. Commercially available fabric generally refers to things like florals, ginghams, and so on used by brands. They don't design these prints, they use fabric that you can buy from fabric retailers! If you happen to stumble across these prints for sale at a store or online, it's absolutely okay to sell them. Generally, goods made from these fabrics that aren't from the original brands aren't considered replica items, because it's so darn easy to get the fabric.

What about parodies?
Parody fabrics and parody items
Parody fabrics and parody items (think: Derpy-chan plush purses, Derpy Carnival fabrics) are acceptable. As a general rule, parody items are considered original artworks, and are therefore acceptable for sale, as long as they evoke the image of the original item, rather than using it outright (Derpy Carnival? Okay. Sugary Carnival with, idk, Groucho Marx glasses photoshopped onto the ponies? Not okay.).

This guide seems kind of confusing. Why did you ban only some kinds of replicas and not others?
We understand the rules about replicas, and reasoning explaining why some are okay and others aren't, can be a little confusing, but it's got a pretty simple basis: the law. Items that we've banned are legally protected under Japanese and US copyright law, and any company caught producing them can be fined or shut down.

We opted to draw the line between banned and unbanned replicas here for the sake of ease and fairness. In a fashion like lolita, there are a very limited number of cuts and silhouettes. If we banned the sale of all "lookalike" items, we'd basically wind up kicking every rectangle skirt with lace trim from the community- and only the "big brands" would remain, because they just so happened to think up the idea first. That's just not fair- to both small brands, and brands that are perfectly legitimate (e.g. Metamorphose and Innocent World) that just so happened to form a little bit later. On top of that, the history of lolita is very poorly documented, and frankly I'm not up to travelling to Japan and asking thousands of ex-lolitas whether BTSSB beat AP to the rectangle-skirt punch- or whether another brand entirely had the idea first.

For this reason, some replicas or replica-like items are still allowed on the community. We recognize that brands put just as much effort into designing "simple" items as they do into print items; however, there's no fair way to draw a line between "allowed" and "not allowed" non-print items, so in the interest of being fair we've allowed a small number of replica items to stay since they're legally allowed.

I really like replicas and I want to sell/buy/discuss them. What should I do?
Please take it elsewhere! We're just in charge of EGL, we're not in charge of the internet or even in charge of Livejournal. If you want to buy, sell, or discuss replicas, please choose another site or community for it.
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