Square Enix Puts 3D-Printed Final Fantasy Figures Out Of Business

Square Enix Puts 3D-Printed Final Fantasy Figures Out of Business

Square Enix consistently protects its trademarks and copyrights. And still people consistently use them without permission. So it's perhaps not a surprise that an artist selling a Final Fantasy action figure series was shut down when Square's lawyers told his 3D printer to cease and, yes, desist.

CNET has the full story, but what happened is this: Digital artist Joaquin Baldwin was using a New York-based 3D printing service to cut his Final Fantasy VII lineup -- sort of how CafePress will put your design on a T-shirt. The figures were stylised to resemble the characters' low polygon-count appearances in the original PlayStation game. Folks raved, the lineup was featured on several sites (including ours) and Baldwin was selling them for between $US14 and $US30, roughly, with price dependent on size.

Baldwin told CNET the set had been available for barely a month, and the attention drawn when he posted the series' secondary set of characters "exploded the Internet" and apparently caught the attention of Square Enix.

Soon, those who had placed orders were receiving an apologetic note from the 3D printing service, Shapeways, which said it had received a cease-and-desist demand from Square Enix and was complying under threat of a six-figure penalty for each willful infringement of a copyright. Baldwin's customers were informed their payment had been converted to a Shapeways store credit, though they were free to send a request for a full refund.

CNET notes that, though fans loved the low-res style of Baldwin's series, Square Enix licenses an action figure set, albeit more realistic-looking and more expensive. It's pretty clear why the publisher would move to shut down something like this.

Kotaku has reached out to Square Enix representatives for comment, and any they make will be updated here. Baldwin discussed the matter in great detail with CNET, which you can read more of at the link.

Print chop: How copyright killed a 3D-printed Final Fantasy fad [CNET]


Comments

    I am not surprised
    When will people learn that they cannot do this sort of this without the express, written, permission of the IP holder?!
    and in this case, I support the case of Square

      The 'right' thing to do would have been to just give out the blueprint for free so people can just print their own.

        No it wouldn't
        As it the core design was not his to give

          That's debatable - it might have fallen under fair use.

            I believe that fair use covers the incorporation of existing IP into new works, usually not-for-profit
            No wholesale recreation of the core characters for wholly-for-profit

              Are we not talking about Mike Tarno saying he should have just given out the blueprint for free rather than charging?

                We were talking about IP "ownership"
                and the fact that I don't believe that "fair use" covers the enabling of the wholesale reproduction of someone else's creation without recompence or permission

                  Even if it's just the 3D models of the characters? For zero profit? I mean what's the difference between that and just teaching someone how to 3D model so they can create and print their own for personal use?

                  I'm not familiar with that detail of IP law unfortunately. I'm quite against piracy, but when it comes to someone making 3D models available for others to look at/for personal use, it seems fair to be able to do so if you're not making a profit.

                  Normally I would completely agree with you but in this case it is in direct competition with a product of a similar nature available from the original IP owner

                  Im not a lawyer, so I am not, nor pretending to, speak with any presumed authority but I see it as this....
                  Square have a product based of one of its most successful franchises, this guy comes along and makes a competing product without permission of that exact same IP.

                  1 - Selling this was always going to be hit in the head
                  2 - An argument could, very easily, be made that this product directly cuts into revenue based off the sale of the "original" products
                  3 - Providing a blueprint to enable people to "mass produce" said product can also be easily argued against as in point 2 above

      This wouldn't have happened if it wasn't widely reported on.

      Some times people want to try and put the word out there about cool things, but they don't realise that putting the word out there, can mean putting an end to that cool thing.

      Sometimes it is best to just leave things be, and enjoy them on your own.

    This is why there's copyright laws in place though. You can't make money off someone else's IP. If he'd've given them away for free though... maybe he could just put the plans up on the internet for anyone with access to a 3d printer could make their own (probably a minimal amount of people, but still)

      As wizz-fizz said there is already a product readily available, so giving away the blueprints or printing them free is not an option, you are still infringing on the copyright/patent etc. I guess the guy(s) had it good for a short time. Now if they created a similar product then that may not be an issue.

    Indeed, this little idea was in the wrong. The action figures are still cuter and more nostalgic than the official Square Enix ones though.

    Seems reasonable. You can't go around selling toys of another companies IP.
    Of course, a better solution would probably have been a licensing deal as there's clearly a desire for these, but a cease and desist would probably be the first step of that anyway.

    I wonder if he could buy the rights from Squeenix or pay royalties or something, I want a set :P

    Yeah the issue is that he's making money off of them, he should discuss with SE getting them Authenticated or whatever they'd probably decline but hey it's worth a shot.

    Last edited 19/08/13 9:38 am

    Yeah, I have little to no sympathy for this guy. (I have a little, I guess. It always sucks to lose something you put a lot of effort into. Like, say, massive, extravagant, intricate sandcastles on the beach - which is what this scheme was.)

    I'm pretty surprised (unpleasantly) by the linked cnet article. The editorial comment is subtle, but all the language and tone is there. They are painting this bootlegger as an enthusiastic fan whose innocent fun has been squashed by the evil empire so that they can make more money on their overpriced versions. They don't say it outright, but the framing here is basically, "His only real crime was that he loved Final Fantasy so damn much!" That's not the right framing for this. Save that shit for non-commercial game projects which get shut-down during freely-distributed fan remakes. Not for people who have stolen other peoples' IP and are making money off it.

    If this guy was making the blueprints available for home 3D printers for free, or just sending out copies of the things to family and friends for the materials cost only, I could understand the sympathy being stronger for a misguided fan, but people were spending money and not a cent of it was going to the owners of the IP. Even when the blueprint designer was cutting his margins to 'practically nothing'. The printers were making money of it, just like they make off any other commission, and I'm guessing without the kind of bulk-printing discounts that a major company can swing for large orders.

      "They are painting this bootlegger as an enthusiastic fan whose innocent fun has been squashed by the evil empire so that they can make more money on their overpriced versions."

      Oh so we can buy these figures from Square Enix then?

      To me this is a grey area:
      Square Enix may deserve compensation for their IP, of which they worked hard onto design.
      Meanwhile this guy also worked hard to build something that people wanted to buy, even though it was not his design.

      They are both right and wrong.

        Just because someone is hard working, they are not justified in doing something that is harmful to someone else or someone else's property.

          I'm not saying he was justified, just simply that he was literally building products that people wanted and could sell, of which SE were not doing themselves as far as I know.

          I mean if there were not Mickey Mouse toys at all ever, and a kid decided to make a few out of plasticine or something and sold them to a few people; would they deserve to be shut down too?

          *EDIT*

          In fact, why isn't this considered a craft? Because if that's bad then we need to C&D half the people on etsy.com

          Last edited 19/08/13 9:53 pm

            1) You are justifying things.

            2) I don't know about "deserve".

            However, it's SE's IP and there's a whole lot of legal reasons why they are justified to send a C&D.

            As pointed out elsewhere, there are other figures authorized by SE but with more detail. I don't know what is going through the SE legal department but here are some possible scenarios:
            a) SE wants to ensure high standards/high detail for their FF products.
            b) Almost certainly, SE has licensed out the production to a company to make them and needs to safe guard that company's investment in paying for the licence. Maybe this company will continue making the expensive high detail figures, maybe they will create less detailed cheaper figures just like what this guy is doing - they don't want an illegal competitor.
            c) (Unlikely scenario) Maybe they don't want FF figures clogging up stores and want more Lara Croft figures in stores.

              Don't know why you're numbering points and I don't think anything was being justified. My argument is based on the 'pick and choose' nature of IP management and how this form of 3D printing for objects clearly blurs the lines between making a derivative work and actual infringement.

              As I said in my first post: I don't think either of them are in the right.

                I don't think you have any idea how important IP is then.

                  So you're telling me that you think only one of them is allowed to be right?
                  The importance of the IP is irrelevant.
                  This issue is only going to get worse; see Nintendo's controversy in relation to streaming SSB tournaments.

        I politely disagree as I believe that the guy is completely and totally in the wrong.
        He is actively trying to sell these models with zero intention of giving a cut to the owners of the IP, and without notifying them beforehand (I guess it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission right?).
        Keep in mind these are models he did not design, nor have a hand in creating. These models & textures are ripped directly from the game data of Final Fantasy 7.
        He'd be totally fine with Square Enix if he was not selling these commercially, instead making them for friends and family at no cost. But that's not what he did, he put his design on the biggest commercial 3D printing website with the intent to sell and make a profit from it. And that is why he is in the wrong. And that's why Square Enix has every right to stop him from making a commercial profit on something he does not own the rights to.

      His only real crime was that he loved Final Fantasy so damn much ... and violated copyright law, which is probably illegal too.

      Square Enix doesn't deserve any money for the amount of destruction they have brought to the Final Fantasy series.

      This guy did create something out of his passion for a game. He tried to make money off of it, because hey, not everyone has a 3D printer right?

    I'm a pirate. I pirate shit. Big companies think I steal from them, whatever. Even I have a problem with what this guy was doing. You can't go and take characters someone else created, built, made everybody love, and then make money off of it because you had a 3D printer and some 3D Modelling skills. That's just wrong

      Not paying people for works that they've created via piracy is also wrong. They put effort into creating those things you consume, so why not compensate them?

        Eh, I acknowledge piracy is wrong, that's the whole point. I don't go around trying to profit off of it

        As to the why? It's simple, I'm a greedy consumer who wants both reasonable prices and convenience. Since the introduction of Steam, the only game I've pirated is The Sims, simply because of the outrageous cost of trying to get all the expansion packs

        As for TV Shows and Movies? uTorrent set to Automatically download via RSS, some macros to rename them automatically, a media center with an Android remote, a program that does the same for movies and I basically get a Netflix style setup going. When I was in the US, I actually was paying for Netflix, and not pirating.

        Long story short. Why not compensate them? Because I want my convenience. I don't wan to jump through hoops for my entertainment, I want it to work seamlessly like it should in the 21st century. And I'm more than happy to be a morally bankrupt person to get that. If they were to offer a decent, reasonably priced alternative, I'd pay for it. Hell, I don't even pirate music anymore thanks to Google Music

    Copyright: Stifling innovation. Again. Unique talent and heretofore unseen product? Vetoed by people in suits. Wouldn't a better response to have been a business arrangement wherein half the profits go to SE? Or even better, they should have offered to employ him to use his talent and design to their benefit. Baldwin's figures should be in the official SE store right now, and in six months there should be characters from a dozen different FF games in there in this style.

      I don't see why Square Enix would seek to employ someone who tried to deceive them. And as for his "talent and design" neither of those should be attributed to him.
      The design was from final fantasy 7. He didn't make them super simplistic, the models he used were already like that, he ripped the models directly from the FF7 game data.
      So the design isn't his. Let's talk about his talent.
      His "talent" is being able to google "rip final fantasy 7 models" and look at the first result returned. That gives him step by step instructions on how to rip those files from the game. He then imported those files into a 3D modelling program, saved them as a file type that can be 3D printed.
      Then he made an account on Shapeways, ignored their terms and conditions for what constitutes an acceptable 3D model for submission, and uploaded it to sell.

      So no, I honestly don't see any reason why Square Enix would employ this guy. He brings nothing original to the table. He just tried to make a quick buck off of Square's back.

        Your reason for why Square Enix wouldn't employ him is the exact reason why they should. Square Enix has been trying 'original' ideas for years now, and have single handily destroyed one of the best RPG franchises of all time.

    a smart person would have sold the blueprints and offered "free 3d printing" wink wink

    I just wish Square would put them out themselves. they're a god damn fantastic idea!
    I don't wont the overdetailed super expensive plastic models, I want a nostalgic sandstone figure at a reasonable price which is what this dude offered and square has not.
    I'm lucky that I ordered one for my friend when I did but dammit I wanted one too...

    I was one of those people....

    I paid for several of those figures, because they are insanely cool. If I had a 3D printer available I would do it myself.

    I was soooo sad to get the email saying they weren't being made.

    Not all of the cash was going to the guy though, part of it goes to Shapeways, who are the ones printing the figures.

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