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Mesh tutorials - how about IP rights?


Madeliefste Oh
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How about the IP rights of an object you make with help of a tutorial?

Tutorials are mainly made for educational reasons, you are teached certain functions of a program. But often these  educational routes are leading to objects. Let's say I follow a tutorial 'how to model a robot'. I model the robot myself, but I was taken at the hand by the original creator of the robot, who tought me step by step how to make it.

Am I allowed to upload this model to SL en distribute it here?

Most tutorials I have seen don't have any statement about copyrights of the model you create by following the tut. Is anybody familair with the issue of IP rights for models made with help of a tutorial?

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No, you can't. There's copyright on the tutorial itself and its content, unless stated otherwise. I wouldn't upload any tutorial material as is just to play safe.

 I was wondering the same (I believe I e-mailed Lynda.com, not sure) and they said something like, “To answer your question, we have a strict policy regarding selling, sharing or making our training public for others to view. But if the shapes you've created are made by yourself and the object does not look like our training it is allowed.”

 Thing is, if you would use the result of a tutorial and leave it by that and use it for SL, you might run into some problems when others create the same or if somebody thinks you 'stole' an idea just because two people have the same object. My advice would be to add some modifications to avoid all of this.



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I believe that all tutorials from machinimatrix do not have such restrictions. We in fact never thought at all about restricting our free tutorials. I just used very easy shapes and i doubt it makes any sense to put any restrictions on whatever you create by learning from these tutorials.

We only have one "commercial" (purchaseable) tutorial and that one has a file describing exactly how you can use it. And i remember that we never imposed any restrictions on the models themself. Just go ahead and go crazy with them ;-)

remind: I am only writing about our machinimatrix-tutorials. other tutorial makers surely have different usage-policies.

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 SCRIPT

StoneDwarf provides a conservative and safe answer.

Your question falls in a gray area and would $ thrill $ lawyers. $$$!!!

Anything that anyone creates has some level of copyright. 3D models fall in the realm of copyrightable work. The idea of using 3 numbers to represent 3D objects does not. That process or method falls in the realm of patents. The tutorial because it is written falls in copyrightable areas and because it describes a process it has a patentable aspect.

In the most basic definition of a model one is creating a list of 3D vertices expressed in a file as X, Y, and Z values. That file can most certainly be copyrighted. Somewhere in the concepts the difference between your coordinates and their coordinates comes into play. 

Think of love stories. Most are boy meets girl, boy-girl fall in love or have problems falling in love, then have trouble staying in love, trust issues, money issues, kids, life... I think it safe to bet every combination of love story possible has been written. But, that does not stop new love stories from being copyrighted.

Because of the complexities of deciding where the 'different enough' comes into play is a matter of what people in general think is similar. I can make a Hulk like model and make it green. No matter how unlike the hulk I think it is, if others think it is the Hulk, I have a problem. Even a sex change won't help. So, often changes small or large are NOT the deciding factor.

While you may be able to copyright a different set of coordinates, you probably can't get away with the coordinates producing a similar model that people recognize.

Then there is the idea of public domain. Unless the tutorial maker explicitly copyrights the tutorial and the product of the tutorial many will consider it as having been entered into the public domain. Meaning anyone can use it for any purpose or use, including selling it.

So, how does one know if a model from a tutorial is in the public domain? If the author does not say, it then depends on what people do with it. If everybody makes a copy for their self and sells it and the original author does nothing, the item goes into the public domain. If the author industriously sends out cease and desist letters and files suites, it remains the private property of the author/creator. If not, it can fall into the public domain. Are you starting to see why attorneys like copyright?

Basically, you'll know when you get sued. Depending on your country, the required mitigation may mean you can use something until you are told not to. If you then stop using it or doing whatever they complain about, the process generally stops.

However, if you made money... They are likely to keep coming until they get the money. Factor in the cost of law suites and things get really messy. So, the exact same conditions and scenario often result in completely different results be cause of the value of a copyright and financial ability of those involved.

Again, StoneDwarf provides THE conservative and safe answer.

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This is, indeed, true.

But, common sense is a red wire throughout any copyright discussion. Not to mention, the tutorial we are talking about, is it complicated, Made? I mean, there are tutorials and tutorials. For example, case studies are, too often imo, categorized as tutorials, while they only have one single purpose – giving an insight on how it was done. The tutorials on Machimatrix, however, are educational tutorials. With a very basic object they manage to pull out all sorts of tricks and cover a bunch of stuff.

It would be impossible to copyright a tutorial on how to model a polygon hand, just because there are limited ways possible in order to animate it.

To get back to topic, if you are following a complex step by step tutorial about how to model something fictional, something that is created by somebody his/her mind, I wouldn't even bother to put it up for sale. 1) you can get sued one way or the other which is a huge waste of time and money, even if you'd win 2) people don’t necessarily have to inform you about it, but might 'think' you stole an idea, which is not good for business 3) it would be much more fun to use the techniques you learn to create something yourself.



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