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Carmsie Melodie

Copyright confusion - help please

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Hi there,

Here's a bit of a copyright brain teaser for any one who knows about this stuff.

A friend of mine asked me this the other day ...

If an avatar builds an environment on their own land (let's say a hospital) and uses other avatars' 3D assets to do so (stuff bought from marketplace like hospital beds), can they take photos of this environment and use the images as part of a book they intend to publish and sell in real life, i.e. a medical text book in digital and paper formats? Given it is only images of the original creators' assets that would be used, not the assets themselves, would this breach copyright?

It would also be interesting to know if copyright would be breached given the same scenario, except the published book is free in real life, not sold.

In trying to work this out I looked at LL's snapshot and machinima policy. If I am reading this correctly, it seems using photos of assets would be acceptable. But I am not a lawyer so perhaps I'm missing something and there's more my friend needs to know.

Any help or advice would be appreciated.

Cheers,

C :)

 

 

 

 

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I'm not a lawyer either, but I have some experience of Copyright issues in my day job - I frequently have to run around chasing IP rights between a few organisations and in making sure that the websites I manage obey the law and respect the efforts of creators and photographers.

You're right that the License to Use allows you to use any images captured in Second Life (as long as compliant with the Machinima/Snapshot policy). This includes images that contain other peoples' content. This would hold true whether the purpose for those images was commercial or free.

Given the fairly small ecosystem in SL however, and the typical friendliness of the Creator class here, I would say it might be nice to...

 

  • Inform at least the most significant creators of your intentions, if only so that they can see a new way that their content is likely to be used. Personally, I'd get quite a kick from knowing that something I built had made it into dead-wood formats like a book or magazine. Even the worst case scenario - that a creator is opposed to your use of their work - provides an opportunity to showcase the work of someone else who's more appreciative. 
  • Attribute. Although it's not not necessary at all, if there's space... why not consider this, too? Easy to include in captions, or at the back of the book and you'd gain ++Karma.

 

No legal obligation to do either of these, but I think it would pay-off and be fun/interesting for all involved. Like I say, SL's a small place, what makes one of us stronger can often make several of us stronger, together. :)

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There are people who post here who would be able to answer your question with a real degree of legal knowledge. I'm not one of them, so I look at it from a different perpective....

If I buy a car and have photographs taken of me in it, or of it in front of my house, and then I write a book which includes those photographs, and I sell the book, would I be infringing the car creator's rights. With my non-legal brain, my answer is, definitely not.

The hospital bed situation is identical, imo, and no rights would be infringed by publishing the pictures you decribed in an RL book. Think of it like this. We see published pictures of the inside hospital wards. Those pictures include beds, and other equipment, and no permission was asked for, or even required, to publish those pictures. It would make life a bit screwy, to say the least, if we had to get the permission of all object creators whose objects appeared in our RL photos before we published them.

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Phil Deakins wrote:

We see published pictures of the inside hospital wards. Those pictures include beds, and other equipment, and no permission was asked for, or even required, to publish those pictures. It would make life a bit screwy, to say the least, if we had to get the permission of all object creators whose objects appeared in our RL photos before we published them.

50/50!

It's a bit difficult to explain maybe, but digital art can be considered a composition depending on where it's placed and how much is contributed to a scene.

Imagine if this scene existed as a single mesh asset and was used 'whole', has the photographer added much value other than to simply rez and snapshot? And as a secondary concern, does the photographer then know that most of their scene will have been stolen from a closed and protected artistic work - a computer game? Do they have a responsibility to check? Does it undermine the creativity the photographer had hoped to showcase, and make the composition less original?

It's also hard to argue that a hospital bed in Second Life is only a functional item that appears in the scene without intent (since no-one needs hospitals, or beds...) - everything is created for artistic purposes.

It gets messy fast.

I know this guidance is well-written on the subject of digitising RL items (somewhat, slightly associated): JISC UK - 3D Digitisation and IP Rights - it talks about how the original item may be considered an artistic work on its own merit, thus making reuse of digitised models more difficult legally, even though the digital model is brand new. This might be an interesting read, but is a definite side-track to this thread. :)

But you're pretty much right by the end, it would be a hassle for anyone to do this much research in RL or in SL, and would severely hamper SL's ability to be publicised (a net-loss for all of us). Hence the Machinima/Snapshot policy, which keeps everything a little tidier. :)

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Many thanks for the comprehensive, very helpful and speedy replies! It seems we were right and images of 3D assets will not impact copyright. Also the suggestion to add credits was a great idea.

Not sure if my friend will progress his idea (btw he was not building a hospital, I just used that as an example), but it's best to be sure about the legal side of things just in case.

Thanks again!

:)

 

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Freya Mokusei wrote:

It's also hard to argue that a hospital bed in Second Life is only a functional item that appears in the scene without intent (since no-one needs hospitals, or beds...) - everything is created for artistic purposes.

Imo, and it's not a legal one, I don't think that it would be difficult to make the argument that a digital hospital bed is not digital art. If someone like Tracey Emmin displayed a hospital bed as a work of art, like she did with an unmade bed and a gent's urinal, it still wouldn't be art, just like the unmade bed and gent's urinal were never art. She didn't even add anything them, except maybe a stand to stand the urinal on. It's just not art. But I digress :)

Imo, it would be very easy to succeed with the argument that digital furniture in SL is not intended by the creator to be works of art. It may look very nice, of course, just like RL furniture looks very nice, but it isn't created to be art.

So the idea of SL furniture being art is a non-starter, imo. Having said that, there are some very weird and utterly stupid outcomes in court cases. Nevertheless, if I were the OP's friend, I would press on regardless, knowing that sheer common sense concerning stuff that just happens to be in a photograph supports me all the way. Not only that, but I might even consider contacting the creator and asking if s/he would like me to use his/her specific bed(s) and print credit for it in the RL publication, suggesting that s/he might pay me for the advertising :) That's what film-makers do. They get paid to put a can of coke or whatever in the shot. They don't have to ask permission to include it.

Anyway, that's my opinion :)

 

ETA: Incidentally, if someone is creating an SL hospital ward, then beds are definitely needed. Yes, SL beds are not needed in RL, but they are in SL, just the same as all sorts of things are needed in RL hobbies. Hobbies are not actually needed, of course, but, if there's a hobby, things are needed for it. So I would say that hospital beds are needed in an SL hopsital, even though the whole thing is just a hobby.

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I'll reply to this briefly since I think there were misunderstandings. :P


Phil Deakins wrote:

It's just not art.


Eeeeh, people say that about lots of things. Determination of whether something is or isn't art is pretty complicated (and always judged on someones opinion). That's why I was talking about placement and composition - other 'tells' that something is art. That's why I linked to the Wiki pages, to try and show that I was using specific terms as they're used in the digital art community.

I disagree with most of your reasoning and I'll try and summarise as to why, by picking this bit of your post (which is where I think the confusion is clearest):-


Phil Deakins wrote:

ETA: Incidentally, if someone is creating an SL hospital ward, then beds are definitely needed. Yes, SL beds are not needed in RL, but they are in SL...


It's not about whether they're needed to complete a scene or to fulfill a hobby, but instead that they're not needed because SL avatars don't get sick, or need rest. Avatars have no use for a hospital ward. They're simulcrums of things that we 'expect' from reality, but that our avatars have no use for, other than to look pretty sitting on. A hospital bed in Second Life is not hanging around, waiting to be filled by a patient with stitches who is expecting 2-4 weeks of sterile aftercare and needs plumbed-in oxygen - it looks pretty, makes the space believable and - perhaps - make the sitting avatar look suitably 'present'.

You'll find it common, if you look around, that model assets and set pieces from games, movies and other media that uses 3D rendering refers to such items as 'art', in large part because they're created by 'artists' and require creative skill versus engineering skill. Court cases across the board will use similar language.

Calls to product placement are waaaay into other territory, I would be entertained by such an argument but it wouldn't go anywhere in court. And, again, cans of Coke display trademarked material, which is treated very differently.

3D rendered scenes don't work as analogies to real life film or photography, though some terms are named similarly. The difference is - for simplicity purposes - expressed in my posts as artistic intent. If a creator doesn't see their creations in SL as art that's fine - maybe they're not art - but from a neutral/legal standpoint it's hard for me to agree that no furniture in SL has artistic intent behind it (which is how these cases would be seen if they came to court).

I understand that all of the above was your opinion, and that's fine. I'm just seeking to clear-up the terms I used as they appear to have been misread.

I'm glad the OP has had their questions answered, and don't really mind chatting in the breeze about theoreticals. The example of a hospital ward does have a lot of benefits and was definitely useful in describing scene composition.

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We're going to have to agree to disagree, Freya. As you said, there is confusion so I'll just correct one bit of it. You argued that beds are not needed because avatars don't get sick. That's true, but I didn't suggest that avatars get sick or need the beds. I meant the person at the keyboard. The beds are needed by him/her to continue with his/her hobby. That's where the need is.

I don't think there will be complete agreement between us on this topic if we continue discussing it in posts, Freya, so I suggest that we get together to play doctors and nurses, and find out by personal experience what is needed and what isn't, and what is art and what isn't :)

Except.....

Gents urinals and unmade beds are NOT art, regardless of who says they are :)

 

 

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The guidlines for this are at:
http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Linden_Lab_Official:Snapshot_and_machinima_policy

 

And a few relavent parts below.

As long as you comply with the  terms and conditions below, both LindenLab and the Residents of Second Life (collectively, “we”) grant you thefollowing copyright licenses: 1. A License To Capture. You may take snapshots and capture machinimaof the 3D content we created that is displayed in-world, and 2. A License To Use. You may use the resulting snapshot or machinimawithin or outside of Second Life in any current or future media. 

 

 

For Snapshots, check whether the covenant for the land prohibits snapshots.If it does, then you need special permission from the land owner to take thesnapshot. If it allows snapshots or doesn’t address them, then you do notneed special permission from the land owner as long as you comply with anyterms that may be in the covenant.

 

 

If the content that you capture is subject to any trademark, service mark,trade dress, publicity rights, or other intellectual property or proprietary rights,you must obtain the necessary licenses and permissions to use the content,and you use it at your own risk.

 

 

 

My take is as long as it does not contain a logo, take, share and use all the pics you want.

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I know what you meant by need, but my use of the language was important when noting the difference between:-

  • An item used in a photographed scene because it is found in that space without arrangement.
  • An item placed in a rendered scene because it would be found there if the scene was taking place in real life.

Was trying to avoid additional confusion by discussing what 'needs' to be in a scene. I didn't want to get sucked into discussing activity, but instead artistic purpose and intent - which determines how the snapshots would be judged.

There's no need for agreement. :) You have an opinion based on what sounds like feelings, I am happy posting links to sources that discuss model/asset-based copyright basically forever. You can see the language they use for yourself.

Best of luck!

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LOL... if i preview my reply it vanishes... what have you done now LL? well.. maybe I can revise and get my reply in here... Not stolen? Well, all the residents agree to only upload content that they have proper licensing for. But... sometimes some of the residents upload content that they don't have proper licensing for. Now, all the residents grant you a license to capture images of all their stuff. But... sometimes some of the residents didn't have a license to grant you a license. So then you capture those things in your images and publish it ... like anywhere you want. I think maybe there can be little problems.

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Rhonda Huntress wrote:

It's a good thing SL photos are not stolen content like those linked articles refer to.
;)

Right! I clarified that in my first post (which the OP approved of), we've been talking hypotheticals for a while. :)

Was discussing the composition of scenes and artistic intent, it's perhaps easy to see why. To bring you up to speed with a fresh example, both of these images could be snapshots taken in SL (they're not, because this is hypothetical):-

See how this gets complicated? The machinima policy makes this issue relatively simple, that was my reasoning too, but for those left not satisfied...

It's not necessarily easy - with rendered content - to tell the difference between an arranged scene made up from small elements (ok) and a complex single model that's being presented as is, with no artistic value added (less ok).

Seems like Phil and I are discussing whether or not SL assets have artistic intent (my position is yes), which is why I linked to articles that clarify how art and rendered assets crossover, in terms of legality.

Hope that helps!

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Nah... i'm missing my buttons below the tabs (Rich Text, HTML, Preview). I'd upload a photo but - I'm MISSING MY BUTTONS! They briefly appear if I change tabs but then my text vanishes. Maybe it's a firefox problem.

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Rhonda Huntress wrote:

The guidlines for this are at:

 

And a few relavent parts below.
As long as you comply with the  terms and conditions below, both LindenLab and the Residents of Second Life (collectively, “we”) grant you thefollowing copyright licenses: 1. A License To Capture. You may take snapshots and capture machinimaof the 3D content we created that is displayed in-world, and 2. A License To Use. You may use the resulting snapshot or machinimawithin or outside of Second Life in any current or future media. 

 

 
For Snapshots, check whether the covenant for the land prohibits snapshots.If it does, then you need special permission from the land owner to take thesnapshot. If it allows snapshots or doesn’t address them, then you do notneed special permission from the land owner as long as you comply with anyterms that may be in the covenant.

 

 
If the content that you capture is subject to any trademark, service mark,trade dress, publicity rights, or other intellectual property or proprietary rights,you must obtain the necessary licenses and permissions to use the content,and you use it at your own risk.

 

 

 

My take is as long as it does not contain a logo, take, share and use all the pics you want.

Let's add to the fun:

2.5 You also grant Linden Lab and other users of the Service a license to use in snapshots and machinima your Content that is displayed In-World in publicly accessible areas of the Service.

You agree that by uploading, publishing, or submitting any Content to or through the Servers for display Inworld in any publicly accessible area of the Service, you hereby grant other users a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to photograph, capture an image of, film, and record a video of the Content, and to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the resulting photograph, image, film, or video in any current or future media as provided in and subject to the restrictions and requirements of our Snapshot and Machinima Policy. The foregoing license is referred to as the "Snapshot and Machinima Content License.

http://www.lindenlab.com/tos#tos2

 

 

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Hi Carmsie  (we meet yesterday)  :)

Im interested in this discussion too as Im hoping to get video on me dancing in Sl at a popular venue. It is for personal use but I may post it in some sl blog or in youtube, so then it will become public. 

There was a rl case in Australia in 2003 after a couple who had taken photos of their teddy bear sitting on famous landmark (Ayres Rock) now called Uluru and wanting to make a childrens book using the images. The Aborigine community objected and took legal action to have the book banned. Im not sure of the outcome of that case but the book was withdrawn 'voluntarily'!!  In  2009, a draft was made by Parks Australia,  to cover images captured in our National Parks (Im not sure where that is at the moment either). So interesting and by no means a complicated subject. 

 

 

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Interesting! I've not known of a natural landmark covered by copyright before. Was that part of the ruling, or was it more... cultural reasons for the objections? (I did find some fun information about photographing Uluru here)

The Hollywood sign is my favourite example of copyright-in-real-life, being so prolific in media. But by far the most entertaining to me is the Eiffel Tower, where it's only against copyright legislation to photograph it at night.

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Hi Cheri and Freya,

I am Australian and can see why our indigenous people took this stance. Ayres Rock is very significant to them, both culturally and spiritually. The proposed book in question could be likened to someone taking pics of their teddy bear, say, on a Catholic altar or in silly places in a Jewish synagog. Very disrespectful! To non-indigenous people Uluru is just a big rock, so I can see how the problem arose. Anyhow, I for one am glad it was banned.

As a brief update on my initial query, my friend has decided to progress with his book (not hospital themed), so it will be interesting to see what he comes up with :)

Thanks again to everyone for their help and advice on this matter.

Cheers!

C

  

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