Internet Modeler Editorial

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

The election process has left the United States deeply divided, with many citizens losing faith in the ability of their government. Perhaps it is no coincidence, then, that the major aircraft manufacturers in this country have chosen now as the time to start demanding royalties on military equipment. In their search for other profit centers, companies like Boeing have started demanding royalties for the use of their name and privately-owned designs, such as commercial aircraft. This is perfectly legal for them to do, as their name and their commercial aircraft represent their own intellectual property. However, the legal departments in these companies have not stopped there. Now they are pressing for licensing and royalty payments on aircraft designations such as B-52, P-51, and CH-46. For the last 100 years, these have been considered public domain, as they rightly should be. Military aircraft (and ships and armor, too; these are also being targeted) are first designed to a government specification, then built with government monies, and finally designated and named by the government. The government does all of this with taxpayer revenue (last year, roughly 30% of my taxes, for instance, went to Defense Department spending), so it is you and I that are paying for these aircraft to be built. Now Boeing, Lockheed, and others want us to pay again.

So what can we do? As a group, modelers are a fairly small portion of the population, and I would say that this population is shrinking, rather than growing. The rise in the price of kits is likely one very big deterrent to bringing new modelers into the hobby, and this plan of the major manufacturers will just drive those prices higher. If we want to continue with this hobby, and hope to bring new people into the hobby, then we must act, and act quickly. Recognizing that we have an international audience, I call on our American readers to remind their Senators and Representatives of their responsibilities to their constituents. Our government DOES work and the power of this government DOES rest in our hands. Regardless of your political affiliation, the challenge presented affects you directly - we all will be paying more if something is not done. So let's do something: WRITE. Write your congressman. Tell them that what these companies are doing is wrong, and that our government should take notice. This does not just affect you and I, the end modelers. It also affects those who work at the model kit companies, who will likely have to lay off workers because they are selling fewer kits. It affects the transportation sector, as there will be less to ship. It affects hobby shop owners, as they will have less to stock their shelves with, and they will be forced to charge higher prices for what they have. So write, and urge all your local modelers to write. You can contact your representative via email here, and a complete listing of all the representatives and their websites can be found here.

Do not hesitate on this. Your letter does not have to be long, or even highly detailed. Just tell your representative how you feel about this and urge them to take action. Our government is designed for this, and it does and will work. Write today.

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