I’m new to the forum but not new to the topic:
It is about the legal dispute with the Swiss PanArt.
The topic is mainly for the builders among you but I think everyone else has some thoughts, too.
It is not about “does PanArt have the right of claiming copyright and blaming international makers for violating it”. My personal opinion is: They don’t have the right on the concept itself because the shape is the logical and simplest consequence of a structure and size, producing the handpans’ unique sound, stable and distortion-free tones, of ergonomics and playability (regarding e.g. the possibility of playing chords due to the scales in a zig-zag pattern and accessibility of the root-note).
But now the main question:
Do you think there are other possible shapes for building a handpan?
Maybe some keywords (just as examples):
- truncated pyramid
- kidney shaped
- flat bottom plate
- diamond shaped
- holding vertically
- bucket shaped
- flat upper plate
I read a the verdict at a German court where the argumentation was, that an instrument that shall produce a handpan-like sound does not necessarily have to be lentil-shaped. PanArt demonstrated at that court hearing, as far as I remember, that other shapes could produce the same sound as well. I don’t know what devices they played or if a skilled listener would have come to a different conclusion as the judges or for not comparing apples with oranges if these devices would have been playable like the handpan as handy lap-instrument or more like a drum-set or whatever.
There was an other argument PanArt had - or more an other example of explanation - that could become a problem in future: Due to their many other instruments that all produce a comparable sound to the handpan:
What if they start claiming copyright on all their ideas as soon as anyone invents something new that produces gong-like sounds on hammered tone-fields, no matter what handpan makers do, because there is a hidden blue-print in a hidden drawer at PanArt that no one knew about that they suddenly conjure up from the hat.)
As much as I love the pleasing shape and the simplicity of handpans, maybe we should - at least - think about and try, discuss and share some possibilities of evolution.
Because: As long as the first idea is with us, no one else can claim copyright on it and bully the handpan community.
And: If we come to the conclusion “No, the only possibility is exact this shape with exact these proportions” and if we could prove that, we could fight the testimony of “The shape is a question of art, of simplifying and reducing and harmonising the shape of a sound sculpture etc. (you know the story)” with “Sorry, you successfully reduced your understanding of simplicity to the physical necessities. Stop claiming copyright on laws of nature. Go in peace but go.”
Handpans touch the heart of millions. The concept, as far-reaching as possible, has to be public domain!
I am hoping for an open discussion
Wish you all the best!