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Piracy

Here are examples of just a few pirated Hornet products:

copies of Hornet HBH02, 01, 05

copies of Hornet heads

Resin copy of metal GH21

Hornet HBH02, 01, 05
Various Hornet heads
Hornet GH21, copied in resin

All copyright in Hornet products rests with me, Roger Saunders, and I do not authorize reproduction by any other manufacturer. After all, other companies are in competition with me! Nevertheless, unauthorized copying is widespread, ranging from companies who use Hornet heads and hands on commercial figures to blatant passing off of copied models as the real thing.

Illegal commercial copying is a persistent and real problem, and many companies suffer from it. I have read several discussions about this on various forums, and I would like to give my views on some of the points made.

How can I be certain that I am buying the genuine thing when I see it on the internet?

If the seller does not state that the item is ‘Hornet’ then it almost certainly is not, even if the picture suggests that it is. The copyists often use a picture of the original manufacturer’s product, instead of the copy that they are really selling, and they frequently download images from the hornetandwolf website. Be suspicious of low prices. Specify that the item must be genuine and give the seller a lot of bad feedback if it turns out not to be. Don’t be fooled by lots of stars on their satisfaction rating.

How do you know if an item is a copy?

It will almost certainly lack Hornet packaging. The pirates often use a resin of a different colour and texture. Detail will not be as sharp as you would expect, and the proportions tend to be distorted. The pouring blocks of individual Hornet heads all have reference codes – the pirates usually take these away. The copied sets of heads may be on a single slug to save costs.

Prices for the genuine articles are far too high. If manufacturers reduced prices the motive for copying would disappear.

Unfortunately, if I did this my motive for producing them would also disappear.

If prices were slashed sales would increase dramatically and so Hornet would sell more to compensate for the lower price.

The market for these items is worldwide but small. The manufacturing process will only work for quite small production runs. Real economy of scale is impossible.

If a pirate company can sell copies at around $5 why can’t you? They have to use the same materials and methods.

The pirate company can simply take a model that represents weeks of painstaking work and pop it into a mould. As a general rule they are also based in a country that is far less expensive to live in, and run a business in, than mine. Often they do not sell via merchants, and so do not have to build a trade discount into the price.

So why not sell direct, cut out the retailers and distributors, and lower the price?

Without the retailers and distributors my sales would collapse. I am only one man, and my main function is producing models rather than marketing worldwide.

These copyists are doing a service to the hobby by making the models available to people who could not afford them otherwise.

Arguably true in the short term. But in the long run they are harming the hobby. Why should originators like me labour to make new products that someone else promptly steals?

Cut to the chase. Why should the customer not buy wherever he finds the best deal?

Buyer, beware! When an item is copied in commercial quantities it has probably been remoulded at least two times. Each time it distorts, usually shrinks, and detail is lost.

At the prices you charge you must be making a lot of money. A few pirates aren’t going to do you much harm!

I love this one! Despite the tremendous publicity Hornet products receive, actual sales are modest. Believe me, my income is not likely to provoke gasps of envy, and it is declining year by year. I think pirating is doing me a lot of harm. Copying is done on a well organized commercial scale by a lot of people. An offender in China claimed to hold more stock than I do myself!  And his website described the knocked-off heads as being ‘top sellers’!

So why don’t you do something to stop the pirates?

As the creator I hold all copyright to these models. But practical measures are difficult, and there are always yet more copyists- many of which are beyond UK, EU or US jurisdiction.

Why not name and shame the baddies on your website?

Human nature being what it is, it would probably give them more trade!

Most of these guys use PayPal to get paid. Complain to PayPal!

I tried once. My tears shorted out the keyboard after a few hours. eBay is better, but you have to find out each and every time an item appears, and formally complain afresh before the sale ends. It then tends to appear again after a short interval and you have to start again. Discussion with either of these organisations seems almost impossible.

So what is the answer?

At present there doesn’t seem to be one. I suppose that if hundreds of enraged customers complained to PayPal and eBay (scroll down and find ‘report item’ to the left of the posting) each time knocked off models appeared they might do something. It’s not very likely though. The more folk that can resist the temptation to buy copied stuff the longer people like me can carry on, but the omens are not good.

NB. All readers are welcome to copy and pass on the above as they wish. By all means use it in discussion forums whenever the topic comes up!

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