'Confidential' Images

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We know this is a controversial issue, one that people have very strong views on, but it is a long-standing policy here at Brickset that we won't use, post or link to 'leaked' images - principally those stamped as 'confidential', which have usually been copied from trade catalogues. This is our choice here at Brickset, and not something that has been forced on us by LEGO.

From time to time we received images of new sets that are not marked as 'confidential', which we post. Sometimes we are subsequently asked to remove them by LEGO. This has happened several times recently, most recently today, where images have been accidently released and should not, from LEGO's perspective, be in public view just yet.

LEGO have recently published an open letter from Jorgen Vig Knudstorp (CEO & President of LEGO) to the LEGO Fan community to express the company's views on the issue of leaked images, and to ask the Fan community to work with them to reduce the impact of these leaks - click this link to read the full letter (in Adobe Acrobat format). Have a read and let us know what you think ...

73 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Not bad. A nice "gentle" letter about it. But they do Have a point, I completely agree, long as it keeps the chinese knock offs from getting the sets and making them early.

I don't come across many confidential pictures, but will support TLG anyway I can.

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By in United States,

I completely agree with them. We're here because we're fans of the company and as fun it is to see new sets, I wouldn't want to deny them the opportunity to create buzz and launch their products in their own time.

It's also nice to see that they're not jerks about it.

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By in United Kingdom,

Theres nothing they can do about it if they release the pics, theres always people who will leak the pics and the only solution is to just plain stop giving the pics out.
I see nothing wrong with just including the name of the set in the catalogue, i mean the shop orders thousands of toys when they come out and it probably dosent even care what the set has in it.
Personally i have the pics of the summer 2011 sets in my pc because i simply like looking at them from time to time and afterwords i estimate their price range and make sure i have that kind of money when they come out.
they are effectively boosting their sales as all kids-and adults! will be prepared to purchase them when they come out!

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By in United Kingdom,

I bet other companies wish they had a 'problem' like this! Forget the 100% experience, some fans want the 110% experience without TLG having to spend a penny on advertising. And those fans are mature enough not to cry if the final product changes a little from the early photos.

I appreciate the concern about competitors producing a knock-off, but any competitor would have access to the stockist's pre-release snaps whether or not it was posted on a fan site. And no doubt the same competitors would be present at the trade shows where prototypes are displayed, well in advance of the stockist's snaps. Producing plastic models isn't like the music industry. Piracy is not a matter of copying a file, there must be at least 6 months worth of lead time.

I'm sorry TLG, but I think the letter is disingenuous. There's no real harm to your business done by these pics, it probably stokes sales. In the 21st century, I think you need accept that a pre-release picture destined for a retail outlet is effectively public domain. Adjust your marketing campaigns accordingly.

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By in Canada,

Well after reading that I can really understand their point of view. I would hate to have other companies steal ideas from Lego because those pictures got loose. That danger is all to real... *Cough* megabloks! *Cough*

From now on I'm going to report any confidential images I see.

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By in United States,

It stinks that we won't be able to see set images a little early, but I think it stinks more for TLG that it happens. I agree with the letter, but I just think it's a bit of a shame becuase a.) not everybody is going to see and follow the letter, unfortunately, and b.) it'd be awfully hard for TLG to monitor the pictures on every website, because there are lots of websites on the Internet. But I do wish the best for TLG and hope they solve the mass of the problem, and I'm glad the letter was short and nice.

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By in Australia,

I gotta agree with richselby. I understand their point of view, but the internet is *there* for information moving around as quickly as possible. The only way to stop leaks is to stop releasing pictures at all.

And in terms of advance advertising, I'm excited as all get out for the Maesk train, which I probably wouldn't have even known about.

And consistency would be something. Telling people to remove pictures on their sites, when the picture is freely visible and downloadable from their own site (like said Maesk train), that seems rather silly. And something of a waste of time and effort.

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By in United States,

Seems to me like TLG has some internal issues with employees letting stuff get out, maybe they should focus more on that aspect of things.

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By in United States,

Has brickset always went with these polocies? i didn't think of that.

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By in United Kingdom,

We get loads of links sent to us pointing to set images over-stamped with 'Confidential' ... we don't post news items about them & we don't use the images in the database. Any user posts in the news items that link to leaked images get deleted as soon as we see them. This has been the policy here for a long time.

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By in United States,

Even if another company "steals" an idea , I would never buy a competitors product. I d

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By in United States,

A leaker is what a leaker does. They don't change unless legal action happens.

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By in United States,

I agree with the letter. I have reported one site for selling preorders of series 3 before they were released. The photos they had said confidential. Lego was quick to remove them, they were gone 2 days later. I am anxious like most others to see the new sets, but I respect Lego's position.

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By in United States,

It's tough for me to think of Lego as never having every advantage. What I mean is, I read about concerns of cheap knock-offs and/or Mega-Block garbage, and it's something that never occurs to me. I have to remind myself there are millions of people out there who think there is no difference in quality. Simple fact is, any leaked image to me is just more Lego news. I don't forward them on or post the pictures to other sites. I just enjoy knowing.

I am 100% behind Lego. I am happy to consider myself a Lego snob. I would never buy anything but LEGO. I understand and agree with Lego on their concern. But I have to admit finding out about this latest train set has really made my day.

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By in United States,

It's a good letter. Most of my information regarding new release of Lego sets and what's forthcoming will be either from Brickset or Lego's official site.

If confidential pictures are getting out, then LEGO should look closer at it's employees. We can try to be responsible for not passing on leaked pictures.

I wouldn't want Megabloks getting a scoop, doing a set similiar... though I think they've got their own liscenses and are developing their own brick lines and themes.

The other knock-off is Superblox. If quality such as Lego can be recognized and kept on the shelf, we'll keep these lower quality, and certainly unknowns off the shelf.

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By in United States,

Disagree with the letter 100%. If images are leaked, then fix the leak that leaked them. Nothing will stop someone from posting them. I love Lego, would only buy Lego and will continue.

However, talking about experience (and it's a bit of an old rant so bear with me), I want the Lego experience others get, but am left with a highly limited, not that great Australian experience. And then in some cases have the 'experience' of paying $200 more on some sets compared to other regions, and plus a huge cost for shipping on everything! (Zero free shipping here, heck even the Lego club costs here-the only place in the world it does??)

That's an experience I'd rather Jorgen worked on. i.e improving the customer experience with the fans that are keeping Lego's business churning.

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By in United States,

honestly I would like to see every image thats been posted even if it is marked condidentional but I respect the owners (of brickset) rules

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By in United States,

It is an absolute necessity to protect the confidentiality of LEGO. I have the greatest respect for the company and whether I agree with their policy or not, the images are theirs and they solely have the right to disclose them. Good job to all the moderators who make sure of this!

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By in United States,

I agree. I'm sick and tired of little kids making crappy videos on youtube of new sets.

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By in United States,

But did the Maersk Sealand train set have a marker?

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By in Australia,

I'm concerned about how "good" and I use that term good very loosely that some new non-Lego sets are. They are near impossible to notice the differerence at first glance. I had someone give me a Chinese knock-off for Christmas one year and it wasn't the same as the real thing. I am really sick of all the Made in China rubbish in shops now, so I collect quality sets by a worldwide known brand of Lego. Some sets can be very expensive, but I know when I see the Lego brand, I am getting high quality bricks that will fit together nicely and where the colours are consistent.
I like knowing about these new sets early too. But if I don't see a picture until release day, then I don't mind. Australia is usually one of the last countries where new sets are released.

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By in United States,

I can see it from the LEGO side. but do agree with others that seeing the pictures beforehand really get's me excited about the product.

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By in United States,

Oh yeah take the pictures down off of other sites, yet it is still available to be viewed on your own site. It makes no sense to me.

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By in Singapore,

I agree with the sentiment of not releasing photos early.
As much as i want to see the pics early, it is always good to exercise some restraint and patience to wait for the arrival of the novelty.
Sometimes, it is the waiting that is more excitingly fun than the arrival.
Good to know that when we see the pics, it is being shared among all the fans worldwide at the same time.
Play well.

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By in United States,

I'm not buying what the Lego reps are selling. These leaks and published photos are part of their marketing network. This is a deliberate effort on their part to create buzz and sell their products. The Lego company does this sort of marketing intentional to save on advertisement. Look at the buzz created by such leaks. You don't thing Lego knows this.

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By in United States,

I think it's great that brickset is so honest! No confidential pics. Go brickset!

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By in Philippines,

I think LEGO has the right to ask people to follow their requests. But consider the following points:

1)As pointed by others: Life is about choices, and some people choose to leak this and that, and there will be people who would scoop these up for themselves.
2) The internet has pretty much made us into a small world, and it's not hard to find these pics as long as there is a person determined and "knowledgable" enough to do so.
3) Where do the leaks come from in the first place? Is it possible that it's from the company itself, like what others have purported? If so, then the problem is with them (e.g. Mr. Assangge (Wikileaks) did not get all his info by himself).
4) A 100% experience will only come from LEGO? I don't think so... I agree with richselby about the 110% experience! Seeing these pics amps the anticipation up a bit. You know how the longer you wait for something, the more satisfied you are when get a hold of it as opposed to suddenly seeing it? There's a difference when you say "YEEEEESSSSS" as opposed to "WOOOOW". The former is more of fulfilment, the latter is plain surprise. And, yes, it makes you prepare for it.

The concern over knockoffs is real and justified. It's not only the M-blocks they should be concerned about. I have also seen a lot of Chinese bricks that have similar themes with LEGO. The problem is the prices are so disparagingly different...LEGO will NOT lose it's sales to dedicated fans, but maybe it will do so to, say, a parent on a budget who wants to give her child "the experience of the brick"... a cheapskate, yes, but one with other prioroties whose decision on how to cut the budget pie could not be faulted.

This site should be lauded with its decision not to show leaked photos deemed confidential...I would only wish that TLG would give Brickset some credit for that( has there even been a thank you note for following them?^^). But IT IS SILLY that they are preventing other sites from posting pics of photos available on their own. So yes, I said it has become a small world and it can be sought out, but there are still people holed up in their own little ones, waiting for news from their local sites.

Finally, I LOVE LEGO (Star Wars)!

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By in United States,

I have to say, I see this as a matter of respect both for Lego and Brickset. Kudos to Brickset for taking a stand and reducing themselves to a sleazier standard. This is, after all, what integrity is all about. Add to that Lego may be more inclined to offer scoops to Brickset because of their stand. Nevermind that, though, I am honored to be a part of this community that actually cares about the product and the company. As for Lego and their policy I personally support them. Not only is Lego an above board company, they are also a leader and given to greater scrutiny. That Lego chooses to use diplomacy first is both commendable and encouraged! A pity other entities don't also choose a polite letter over legal action. As I see it we are all here for a reason and it is not to hate on the company and the products we admire.

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By in {Unknown country},

This one was without water mark. So it was OK uploaded to BS.
Then LEGO can 'gently' ask for remove it. It is OK, we're good boys... though i think removing things from internet is like stopping the rain... you cant help it even having hundreds umbrellas

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By in United Kingdom,

A point about The Lego Group (TLG) wanting people to experience the full-on Lego marketing schtick. The company's marketing is aimed at children. People who care enough to post/look at pre-release pics are most likely adults. What's more, the adult enthusiasts probably won't notice the kid-aimed official ads, mailshots etc. And if they did, they wouldn't care. For Ninjago, I saw some pre-release set pics a while back, and rather liked them. A few months later, now, in January, there's a telephone box near my local tube station decked out in a Ninjago ad - Unveil the Secret of the Eyes, with a giant close up of minfig eyes. I mean, honestly, which one is more exciting for an adult? A pic of a set, or a giant close up of some eyes with a daffy slogan across it? If I were part of TLG's marketing team, I'd claim credit for the pre-release leaks and attribute it to my carefully planned viral campaign. It would look good on the CV, even if my current employer doesn't quite get it.

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By in Philippines,

@ragingcelt: Did I read this correctly? copy pasted:

Kudos to Brickset for taking a stand and reducing themselves to a sleazier standard.

shouldn't it be "not reducing"... ;-)

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By in Germany,

The latest German catalogue has pictures with watermarks attached on page 78. xD

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By in United States,

I admit that I looked at the pictures, but one thing that I noticed, is that the three TBR Harry Potter sets were just gray boxes with no pictures. As long as the realiters can see the name, theme, and size of the box, I think it would be fine.

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By in United Kingdom,

I assume this is not so much about the new Maersk set and more about the Series 5 minifig pics that are now doing the rounds on another site (yes, that's Series 5 folks). As a fan i'm excited to know what's coming, but as an adult who does business with companies around the world I understand intellectual property rights, confidentiallity and protecting the rights of license providers so they (Lego) are going to be defensive and angry about any leaks. That being said, they control the release of information so no photos in trade catalogues would stop 99% of these images turning up on the net as many have said above.

And series 5 figs look cool (sorry!).

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By in Canada,

I'm always dealing with people on Brickipedia (a Lego encyclopedia) uploading watermarked images. The Letter written was nice and gentle. And I agree with everyone else, if it stops Chinese knockoffs and Megablocks getting at 'em, I'll try to work harder at deleting Copyrighted Images (although I am already working at getting rid of Copyrighted images).

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By in United Kingdom,

I agree that TLG have a right to protect their product and any images marked confidential shouldn't be posted. Of course however they will be and it is because we are interested in the new sets that we like to see what sort of things will be produced. I think TLG could do much more to preview upcoming sets and to provide some official material on what the next phase of sets to be released will look like. Doing this in a more consistent way would help TLG to control the information flow and give Lego fans what they want.

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By in France,

I do not agree with TLG, they take benefit from those leaked pics of upcoming sets and they know it. They try to maintain some cool policy by screaming, not so loudly, about that, but they know for sure that those leaked pics generate millions of posts on topics on various forums and this is the way they cover market and do marketing for no money.... Why LEGO does never advertise anywhere ? on tv, never saw them... They use community for their own marketing needs.

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By in United Kingdom,

I'm sure most readers of this debate will have noticed the little slip where the Maersk Train Set pre-release image was uploaded onto Lego's own web server (the news story below this one on BS's home page). So whilst the CEO of The Lego Group asks fans not to publish pics of pre-release sets pinched from elsewhere, other bods in the company go and upload pre-release pics to their own public web server. And instead of taking down the image when they realise their mistake, they asked Brick Set not to link to it. You couldn't make this up. Memo to TLG top brass: please read up on web based marketing techniques. You have much to gain and little to lose.

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By in Philippines,

See... when the cat is out of the bag, it's hard to control it.

Just like that series 5 pic...I didn't mean to look at it, but I saw it because it was there. Where did it come from? That said, I'd still want to buy that series as a whole because of the leak.

First an elf, now...why don't they just get a license for LOTR and complete the fellowship!

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By in Italy,

I've seen those stamps in a Finnish January Lego catalogue last year. The stamp was on all the Bionicle stars. If the catalogue was distributed by Lego, I suppose that is allowed.

What they're saying is true, otherwise.

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By in United States,

Any letter of this nature that is an polite "ask" will always get a company further than a "tell" type letter.

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By in United States,

I completely understand Lego on this matter. I understand fan sites and such setting rules on the watermarked images to keep a good relationship with Lego. I love Brickset so I wouldn't want it to get 'restricted' BUT, as a paying customer and loyal custumer to the brand it's not my responsibility to help Lego police their leaks. I already give them my hard earned money so it's up to them to keep control of that. The fan community does so much for them marketing wise..., lug groups....posting up personal reviews which helps promote their product...it's the last thing on my mind as to, oh...this is a watermarked Lego image.
It's THEIR responsibility, not the fans.

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By in Canada,

Any fansite that wants to maintain a solid relationship with The Lego Group should naturally avoiding posting pictures of unannounced sets. I think it's a rationale decision that shows respect for The Lego Group.

That said, the source of these pre-release pictures is clearly Lego. Lego is distributing these retailer catalogs and naturally some of them are going to land in the hands of enthusiasts who feel a greater obligation to the fan community than to The Lego Group. The single best way to shut off the tap is for the company to stop placing pictures of unannounced sets in these catalogs. (Perhaps it could replace them with simple line drawings that give retailers a sense of the product without fulling revealing it.)

Personally, I think these pre-release shots are all part of the fun. More often than not they have me salivating like a dog awaiting his dinner—but in this case, dinner is usually nine months away!

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By in United States,

LEGO is spitting into the wind a bit with this one.

I think it's good that Brickset has chosen to maintain a particular level and that it's created a good relationship between them and LEGO.

Other sites, particularly non-LEGO sites where images could be posted just won't care as much. As long as there's someone willing to photograph, scan, and post the images somewhere on the web, the catalog pics will always leak out. Hopefully this letter was sent with their catalog, or should be the first page in every one, because those are the people they need to convince to not spread the images.

The Maersk image didn't have a watermark and was technically public on LEGO's web server, so this letter wouldn't even really apply to that instance.

And, I'm not really sure I've ever seen a knock-off LEGO set. Maybe a couple small ones on eBay, but it was so blatantly obvious they were knockoffs I almost bought a couple for their weird color schemes and looks. All the competitors that reach chain stores in the US tend to be the 'compatible' kind, who at least have the decency to come up with their own sets, usually sets that fill a theme that LEGO isn't in for that year.

I suppose knockoffs are a bigger problem in countries with a more lax stance on copyright. Unfortunately, a letter like this probably isn't going to really mean anything to them either.

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By in Germany,

LOL NEver noticed that in the german catalogue.
EPIC FAIL by the catalog designer!

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By in United Kingdom,

Perhaps another way to think of it is this: you have this really amazing news to tell about something great that you've done. To help you arrange a time for all of your friends and family to be gathered together for your announcement, you tell one person in confidence. But rather than keep it to themselves, this person tells everyone in advance of your announcement. How upset would you be that someone had deflated your balloon, especially when it wasn't their news to tell? Just a thought...

Personally, with regards to new LEGO sets, I don't want to know about them until the release is imminent. I'm just not patient enough to twiddle my thumbs for months waiting for it to appear in the shops or on the LEGO web site. And besides, there's no need when I've still got to catch up with a few more purchases from last year's new releases! : )

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By in United States,

I used to collaborate with marketing teams in my former job. What Lego is not telling you is that the leaks are not helping competitors, they are sort of hurting existing sales of current products.

Buyers fall into 1 of 3 categories: (early adopter, impulse/necessity buyers, and bargain/last minute shoppers)The early adopter is faithful and will buy for bragging rights or to satisfy their anxiety; the last minute buyer is a spend thrift or waits too late and sometimes is willing to pay a penalty (higher price due to unavailability; ebay sellers love the latter). The bulk of buyers however, are impulse/necessity.

Manufacturers spend millions to market, advertise, distribute product based on impulse/necessity buyer trends. Their customers (Target, TRU, Argos) rely on these buying trends to fill their shelves and thus order certain quantities from Lego. If the retailers can lure impulse buyers that are surprised by exciting, existing items then they get the full benefit of their shelf life (shorter shelf life with high turnover is the ultimate goal of retail). However, if a leak of items that wont’ be released for months or even a year entice buyers to “anticipate” or wait for a better fresher design, these buyers become last minute shoppers and thus the existing product will suffer with longer shelf life and hurt manufacturing. On the other hand early adopters drain the early inventory and create empty/waisted shelf space and false demand. Now manufacturing can't keep up, the trend is busted and they lose combo/add on sales.

For example, the internet is a buzz with series 4 and is treating series 3 like a step child (you can actually get cases of Series 3 at or below retail with no problem, perhaps due to over anticipation by retailers due to popular series 1 and maybe the price hike hurts too). Now leaks of series 5 will prod buyers of series 4 (and series 3) to manage their buying of certain qty’s so that they can afford series 5. It is a manufacturer’s worst nightmare to overproduce and then have to offer discounts to clear shelves. Series 1 was supposed to draw in new buyers to Lego but they were depleated by early adopters and the trend was busted when series 3 got a price hike and overproduced.

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By in United Kingdom,

Yeh, I think Lego need to keep the pictures to themselves for a bit longer: for exaple, I've already seen pictures of SERIES 5 minifigures. I'm ot going to say whats in the series and tell you how good they are to be kind to Lego :D

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By in United Kingdom,

@Lari - Interesting you should mention that. I have found that sometimes the box pictures from the adverts on the back of instructions have watermarks. Like the Airport photo on the small car instructions.

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By in Canada,

Why are some of you guys saying you disagree with the letter?! The point they're trying to make is don't post/link confidential images. Who cares why, because Lego asked us not to. If you ever see a link to confidential sets, report it to the email the letter provided. Seriously, it seems rather simple to me. I don't think the letter was directed to the sneeks who actually post these picks, but rather to the people who choose to view them. Sure the images will always get posted, but it will stop there if we report it.

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By in United States,

@copperwonder96: Excellent explanation, it makes sense and, now that I look at the letter again, seems to be LEGO's point, but they aren't directly stating that it affects sales of current sets.

LEGO shouldn't be worried about competition since LEGO products are spread by word of mouth for the most part and it's mostly the average misguided buyer that tends to buy generic brands. For example, a child tells their parent something like "I want (generic theme here) Legos!" The parent will search for the theme name that involves bricks of some sort and would buy the cheaper brand without realizing the quality difference.

I don't personally agree with the arguements put forth in the letter, but because I respect the company itself, it seems like a fair deal. The reality is, leaks will always be there and there's nothing LEGO can do besides keeping the pictures to themselves in the first place to prevent leaks, so there will always be an ongoing cycle of leak, hunt down, remove.

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By in United States,

I agree, if LEGO is sensitive to the revealing of sets before they are released than I have no problem with that.

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By in United States,

@copperwonder96 - Right on the money. You couldn't be anymore correct. However, many of the AFOLs fall into the first catagory of buyer which is we will buy everything we can get our hands on as soon as we can as long as we can afford it. Most of us spend a large amount of our disposable income on Lego. To me, the images get me excited about what is to come and does nothing to take away from what is currently released. I always manage to have a purchase at the ready. I even swore that that I would not buy any Ninjago, but managed to walk out of TRU this weekend with 3 sets with some prompting from my 7 year old.

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By in United States,

@copperwonder96 - Yours is the kind of post that I just love to read. Thanks for the great insight. And I very much agree that knowing too much about what's coming can cripple current sales. Of course, it also can have the opposite effect. Those first images of the Medieval Market brought me back into the Castle fold which I had otherwise been skipping for years. And from what I've seen of Series 8 minifigures, .... just kidding.

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By in United States,

It is important that Lego be able to put some pics out there without them getting around. Do you think official distributors of LEGO would have an easy time deciding which sets to purchase in order to be ready for a release date if they couldn't look at pics first? It is ridiculous to say "just don't put them out there" because the pics need to be out there in order for all of you to be able to get them in a timely manner. Do you think LEGO can fill all the demand through it's own shipping capacity? They can't. They use distributors to fill this demand.

LEGO is looking after it's own interests and ours when it asks that we not promulgate confidential pics.

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By in United States,

The only issue I have with the new model argument Copper puts forward is that LEGO doesn't usually redo sets from year to year. Sure, there have been permutations, like the various minifig scale Falcons or AT-ATs, but they generally aren't done within a year of each other. Seeing next years sets generally isn't going to dilute your interest in having a set that's still available this year, especially when we start seeing news of the new sets squeak out when the current sets start going on sale.

I think the sort of people who are susceptible to the sort of impulse buy being talked about probably isn't going to be the sort on the web browsing LEGO news forums looking for pictures of new sets.

His argument makes sense in the context of electronics or other household goods where the new model completely replaces the old model in functionality, but that's really not the way the LEGO line is, for the most part, so it's not a very parallel market.

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By in United States,

Let me preface this with saying that I love LEGO, they are a great company, and they've always been great to their customers.

But reporting confidential images is only benefitial to them...they've outright stated the real reason they don't like the leaks, and that's because they don't want consumers being soured by a bad prototype. As much as I respect LEGO, it's foolish to think this is for anyone's benefit other than their own. Reporting these images isn't going to prevent any knockoffs, and it isn't going to keep costs down for you. I understand and respect Brickset's stance, as they don't want to sour their relationship with LEGO. As consumers, however, you have no responsibility to report these images, in essence acting as LEGO's unpaid employees. LEGO has every right to take images down, but it's up to them to find and remove them.

I love getting to see sets early, it helps me to stay informed and plan my purchases, and I hope it doesn't change in the future.

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By in United States,

@eMouse - That's true too but what about the last set of Star Wars battlepacks? You can't tell me that advanced notice of forthcoming rebel and snowy battlepacks didn't hurt sales on that $25 Hoth set. I know that I myself had intended to get a number of the Hoth sets until I realized that I could get my snowies later with the battlepacks. And you also have to consider the possibility that the next wave in a specific theme might fall flat. And early knowledge that the next wave is unfortunately weak can keep people from picking up a theme for which they otherwise might have been on the fence. You can make the same argument that the Maersk train leak could potentially negatively impact sales for the 2 current City trains.

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By in United States,

@yellowcastle: the medieval market is my honey! And a perfect example of over capacity. Just for kicks, at your local Lego store, ask them how many Medieval markets they have in the back. Mine has more than 30, Lego overproduced this set for sure. I buy one every other time I go, there’s no better city builder than this set.

@eMouse: Good point, however ... it isn’t the models they replace every year, it’s the collection. If you invest in space police or try to finish your collection then you miss out on the 2011 Pharoes Quest (or you jack up your credit card to keep up). If they have a better series that leaks like Space 3000 (not the real name) and If I feel that the images are better parts than Ninjago or Pharoes Quest, then I’ll avoid collecting Pharoes Quest and get the Space 3000 instead (again, Space 3000 is not a real series ) I'm and adult early adopter by the way, I hate anxiety!
Lego knows what they are doing, we are collectors. And once you buy one or two sets, by hoarders law: “You must complete the collection” . Just by showing the Maersk Train, I just put off getting the London Bridge for another few months and I cut off my series 3 obsession for elves to focus on the musketeer guy in series 4. That’s just me an AFOL.

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By in Serbia,

I was thinking about this subject for a long time...and my conclusion is:
I live in Serbia, LEGO doesn't care for this market. Our prices are 50% more than in a Germany or Austria (7939- cargo train is 265€ in Belgrade). We get sets with 4-6 months delay compared to neighboring countries. We do not have S@H. We don't have any type of promotions of sets. We didn't had exclusive sets until 2 months ago. I've bought 2 sets, paid each over 220€, and in each box one piece was missing. I've went to support page, filed in the forms and months have passed and i haven't got those two pieces. So after everything, I'm not gonna report any webpage which contains confidential pictures, and I want to see them, because I know that I wont have a chance to purchase any of them in next year or so...
I don't care for their policy and open letter from Jorgen Vig Knudstrop.

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By in United States,

@copperwonder96: That is something that makes the LEGO market different. Someone isn't inherently going to avoid this year's model just because next year's is right around the corner. They might delay or reduce quantity, but they're aren't necessarily likely to say, "I'm going to avoid buying the current set A because the new set B is an upgraded version of it". If you see a newer set includes more of what you want than a current set, then you might avoid buying more of a particular set, but it doesn't necessarily mean you won't buy any of the current set like you would with most other products. At the same time, if there's a particular piece or figure you want, and you see that upcoming sets don't feature that piece, you're going to be more likely to buy up existing sets with that piece when they go on sale or stock gets low.

If someone wanted Tauntauns, seeing that neither the Wampa cave nor the trooper sets had Tauntauns would mean that that person would want to buy up Echo Base sets while they could. That's something they could really only know by seeing pictures of the new sets.

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By in United States,

I definitely think that seeing the confidential pictures will affect my buying habits and those of many other AFOLs. That's going to happen with anything 'new'. However, these pictures are released on such a limited basis that I have a hard time believing that they can really affect LEGO's overall bottom line. AFOLs don't make up close to 10% of LEGO sales (from what I remember) and a fraction of them will see these images so the impact seems incredibly low. LEGO claims that these images will help competitors but no AFOL would approach a competitors collection even if it copied a model.

LEGO has every right to want to release it's sets preview images on its own time, but once a pic is out they need to help give a better image of themselves. They need to run towards the fire and present new info and beat the negative consequences of the leak rather than kick a dead horse and make us their enemies. Once the pics are out, its over they aren't getting them back.

I hate preliminary pics for their bad quality, LEGO should give us something better to work with and gain our appreciation and build the anticipation in the process.

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By in Australia,

While I respect Lego's stance, I have to admit that I can understand why many of us still view these pics. Personally, I guess that I like to know what's coming out later in the year, so I can budget my expenditure. Unfortunately, Lego is particularly expensive in this part of the world and I do have a mortgage to pay so I don't have loads of money which I can just throw around. Knowing what's coming out in the next few months will make selecting which sets to buy and which to miss that much easier.

Then again, if Lego prices were standardised across the globe, maybe this wouldn't be such a problem!!

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By in United States,

I saw this on BrickSet this morning and would've replied, but it took me a while to get a password sent for my new account. Anyway, there's been some good discussion above. Sorry if this is repetitive, but I'm pretty torn. I completely understand LEGO's position and don't want to hurt TLG, but I'll admit that I [i]love[/i] seeing leaked images. Judging from the excitement and discussion it generates amongst AFOLs, I'm not alone in this. We end up discussing the images, and while there's some level of folks saying they don't like what they see and won't buy it, by and large it's people talking it up, spreading the word, and getting the new products hyped up. I assume a lot of this excitement generated translates into sales. If anything, it's just another way that we gather to share our thoughts about our favorite hobby...it builds community. People get passionate about the images, but in the end you get a bunch of people frothing at the mouth...ready to spend more of their surplus income on ABS plastic. So yeah, I'm torn. If I were a business owner, in this competitive environment where people have [i]so[/i] many different things to distract them away from your product on the internet, I'd think you'd want people excitedly chattering about your products months in advance, even if it means your competitors get wind of it as well. If I were them, I'd be more worried about the day when no one wants to see what they have in store for next season.

So yeah...torn.

And I definitely sympathize with the comments from folks in Australia and other places where there's a delay as well as a price hike. Their perspective really helped confuse the issue for me, in a good way.

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By in United States,

I don't like the letter because I don't feel it is being completely honest. Yes, the company wants control over their marketing and when someone posts unpublished photos of the sets the company loses control. I get that and can sympathize. However, the letter goes on about "experience" (whatever that means), copying designs, and obligations to others. I don't buy all that as the primary motivation. I think copperwonder96's reasoning makes a lot more sense; I think they are most concerned about how marketing effects sales. So I take offense to the pretense about all these other things. And then they ask us to act as enforcers of their policy. I don't mind if they go after unauthorized posts, but don't involve me in that.

This site does not post watermarked photos, which I think is very respectable and I support fully, so the letter does not really apply to this site. Now the other day there was a picture of a Maersk train, which I think is a really awesome set, that got pulled down. This image was not watermarked. Moreover, it was published on LEGO's own website! That's right, they published it themselves! Sorry LEGO, I call no takesy backsies. Once you yourself publish an image, mistake or not, you have no grounds to complain that it is out there on the web.

Speaking of which, once anything is out on the web it's over. The cat is out of the bag. The horse has left the barn. Etc. It is really unrealistic to think you can control a leak once it's out on the Internet. I think it would be wiser to focus on preventing leaks rather than appealing to the public to help you control them. That is just the reality of how information spreads these days.

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By in Australia,

The point that Duilim has raised about different Lego prices from around the world (ie from official Lego.com stores) is potent. It doesn't factor the vast discrepencies in currency exchange rates at all.

For example, if I was to buy a set of 'Clone Trooper Pack' from Lego.com Australia, it would be $22.99AUD. If however I was to purchase it under United States country of origin, it would be $11.99USD. What most of you may not know now is that current exchange rates are around $1.00USD = $1.00AUD - so this is like paying twice as much from Australia than the United States! -_-

This issue really should be addressed. If it was a minor difference in prices, then it wouldn't matter as much. But paying twice as much from Lego.com just because we're from different countries?! Its ridiculous.

I used to be a long-time online purchaser from Lego.com AUstralia (back then, $0.80USD = ~$1.00AUD) - even then I might add, its still a lot costlier for us poor Aussies. But for the past months, its just seems to me a ridiculous notion that I have to fork out twice as much for same set compared to someone buying in the States!

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By in Bulgaria,

I have to agree with the letter. Mainly about not giving the other brands the time to steal LEGO's ideas. I'm very happy when I manage to see early confidential images, but on the other hands I don't want LEGO-clone brands to steal and ruin their great ideas.

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By in Ireland,

It's a tricky situation.
Part of the fun of the hobby is chasing scoops, news about future sets, just like car journalists try to spot prototypes. The difference is that it takes much longer to copy a car design than it takes a Chinese toy factory to copy a Lego set. There are also other reasons why Lego is not happy about leaked pictures. There's the marketing-buzz thing as explained above by Copperwonder96, but there's also the chance that fans are underwhelmed by early pictures which may generate negative buzz and hurt sales.

It's easy to say that Lego have to fix their own leaks but it's a bit like a quote I once heard about the IRA and the police. The terrorists only need to be lucky once while the police have to be lucky all the time. Lego has to somehow distribute their retail catalogues to tens of thousands of toy shops all over the world to get their orders in. It only takes one of those thousands of shops to stick the catalogue in a scanner for a friend and that's it. Once a picture is on the web it only takes seconds for copies to be downloaded all over the world and no hope of Lego getting them all removed.

I don't think that letter from Lego is all that unreasonable. Lego are listening to AFOLs, working with us on events, releasing crazy sets and more and in return they're asking us not to distribute confidential pictures. No threats, just a friendly request for a bit of give and take.

I fully understand the Brickset position. With a different attitude towards publishing confidential pictures I don't think the photo-visit to the vault would have happened...

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By in United States,

For all the talk about competitors copying designs, can anyone point to an example? And I mean beyond just the idea of bricks, because you don't need confidential pictures to to come up with brick based building sets, but an example of another company copying the design of a specific LEGO set before LEGO releases it?

Furthermore, even if all of the confidential pictures were magically removed from the Internet, as a competitor wouldn't I just get one of my partners in the toy industry to lend me a copy of the advance retail catalog to get an idea of what LEGO is up to?

I don't buy the copy of design argument. Control of marketing to maximize sales is a much more realistic explanation.

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By in United States,

@brickmatic - I am convinced that Lego is not speaking directly to copied designs of plastic bricks per say, I think they are more concerned that some toy company in general will "one up" them on a better or similar cheaper toy theme in general. If a leak of next year's theme hits the web, then the toy company (say playmobile) can pre empt Lego with a better looking theme. Let's say Lego decides to do a steampunk theme. Well Playschool says hey, we have prototypes for some steampunk ships geared towards children, let's nurture that theme since Lego is trending that way in a few months. I think Lego is competing with the Toy world rather than just the brick world for the attention of its young fans. As a kid I didn't just want lego I wanted the cool monorail and the cool transformer city (shout out to Metroplex!). But a good manufacturer would love to eat Lego's lunch for their themes, it's a facinating industry if you follow the trends. Bottom line, the web makes secrets impossible.

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By in Australia,

@ Brickmatic - I'm not sure if you've been to any Asian countries but several of them are rife with Lego "clones". I was in Malaysia 4 months ago and came across a generic "brick" toy that was an exact replica of Lego set 7416 Emperor's Ship - except of course, that it wasn't Lego and it was about 10 times cheaper as well. Similarly, on ebay, I found an almost identical replica of the classic pirate ship " 6285 Black Seas Barracuda" from China. Not sure what the actual brand was, but I think you get my point.

We're less likely to see duplicates in the Western world due to stricter copyright laws, but in some Asian countries, anything goes! Also, Lego tends to be much more expensive in Asia, even more so than Australia and so parents are more likely to opt for these cheaper brands as they see themselves effectively getting the same set for a much much cheaper price.

Having said all this, I must say that I do agree with you - I also think that Lego are more interested in controlling the market than they are about competitors copying their designs. Copyright laws should be sufficient to protect Lego in this regard, and let's face facts, Lego's main market for sales is Europe and North America, not Asia so I really don't know what they're worried about.

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By in United Kingdom,

I have to say see images of new sets before the old are retried can hurt sale like the police station i was going to get the old until I saw the new and now I will get the new one instead when I get round to it.

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By in Philippines,

@Brickmatic: there are. I agree with duilim. One example is similar to the castle themes. There's even one which is similar to a vintage space shuttle design, complete with a chrome gold visor for the fig. They may be based on old designs but they're still copies. One of the boxes even say the design is UK based, or something to that effect...I just don't know if that is a marketing scheme.

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