Origami Ethics

Original Pic Credit : Here

Origami, from ori meaning “folding”, and kami meaning “paper” is the art of paper folding, which is often associated with Japanese culture. In modern usage, the word “origami” is used as an inclusive term for all folding practices, regardless of their culture of origin.

Origami folders often use the Japanese word kirigami to refer to designs which use cuts.

These designs begin with a square sheet of paper whose sides may be of different colors, prints, or patterns.


Copyright in origami designs and the use of models has become an increasingly important issue in the origami community, as the internet has made the sale and distribution of pirated designs very easy. It is considered good ettiquette to always credit the original artist and the folder when displaying origami models. It has been claimed that all commercial rights to designs and models are typically reserved by origami artists; however, the degree to which this can be enforced has been disputed. Under such a view, a person who folds a model using a legally obtained design could publicly display the model unless such rights were specifically reserved, whereas folding a design for money or commercial use of a photo for instance would require consent.

A court in Japan has asserted that the folding method of an origami model “comprises an idea and not a creative expression, and thus is not protected under the copyright law.” Further, the court stated that “the method to folding origami is in the public domain; one cannot avoid using the same folding creases or the same arrows to show the direction in which to fold the paper.” Therefore, it is legal to redraw the folding instructions of a model of another author even if the redrawn instructions share similarities to the original ones, as long as those similarities are “functional in nature”. The redrawn instructions may be published (and even sold) without necessity of any permission from the original author. The Japanese decision is in agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office itself, which asserts that “copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something.”

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