3d model copyright law [Best Article]



Last updated : Aug 7, 2022
Written by : Katheleen Polfer
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3d model copyright law

How does copyright work with 3D models?

Three-dimensional objects can be covered by copyright as artistic works. As with other types of works, there is no requirement for artistic merit, so copyright can apply to the appearance of any type of object as long as it is original.

Are free 3D models copyrighted?

No. Even if a model is available free of cost, it is still protected by copyright. You can't sell it or give it away without permission from the rights holder.

Can I use 3D models for commercial use?

Will the 3D model be commercialized in any way? Models with an Editorial license cannot be used for any kind of commercial project. You may still be able to use Standard-licensed models for commercial projects.

Is it illegal to sell 3D models?

Original Designs, Derivatives & Tools As we mentioned above, you can sell 3D prints from any unique digital 3D model that doesn't infringe on another party's IP if the original artist gives you express permission.

How much do you have to change an image to avoid copyright?

Accordingly, you cannot claim copyright to another's work, no matter how much you change it, unless you have the owner's consent. See Circular 14, Copyright Registration for Derivative Works and Compilations.

Can STL files be copyrighted?

Do rights exist in a CAD or STL file made using a computer program? Copyright: Maybe. Copyright protects a work if it is an original creation that is fixed in some tangible form. Computer files are considered tangible under copyright law, so that's one requirement checked off.

Can you sell 3D printed items on Etsy?

Etsy is known as one of the best places to sell handcrafted items, and 3D printed items are no exception. The artisanship of modeling a 3D dimensional item is an articulate, free form craft similar to sculpting or painting.

Can I sell 3D printed characters?

You can sell 3D prints from Thingiverse as long as you have the adequate copyright status or explicit permission from the original creator of the design. There are designated websites built to sell 3D printed items, and they ensure you have the correct rights to the sold products.

Are paint 3D images copyrighted?

Technically you should be able to use it especially if you are not into commercializing that one and you are using or posting it on a personal matter.

Can I use blender models for commercial use?

Yes, you can use Blender. Blender's license does not place any restrictions on what you can do with the models you make with it: What you create with Blender is your sole property.

Can you use TurboSquid models commercially?

You are allowed to use TurboSquid models in your Unity games, both commercial and free ones. The only requirement they pose is that the models cannot be easily unpacked from the final game distributed to your players.

Can I use Sketchfab models commercially?

You may not use them for any commercial or promotional use. You may edit the 3D assets only if its editorial quality is not altered. This article discusses licenses for Store purchases.

Can you legally sell 3D printed items?

To begin with, it's totally safe and legal to sell your 3D printed parts on e-commerce websites like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy. People are making a fair living offering their printing capabilities on different platforms.

Is it legal to sell 3D printed objects?

While the patent laws prohibit selling and offering to sell objects protected by other's patents, the law also prohibits making or using those objects, even if you don't try to sell them.

Can I sell 3D models of Pokemon?

“Therefore, our general policy is to decline all such requests, no exceptions. To be clear, this means we do not grant permission to sell drawings or 3D printed items featuring our trademarked characters.

What are the 4 fair use exceptions to copyright?

Fair use of copyrighted works, as stated in US copyright law, “for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”

How much can you copy without infringing copyright?

You may use up to 10%, but no more than 3 minutes, of a single movie, TV show or video. You may use up to 10%, but no more than 30 seconds, of music and lyrics from a single musical work. You must purchase performance rights to hold a live performance of a copyrighted work.

How do you avoid design copyright infringement?

  1. Identify the elements in a piece of work that copyright protects;
  2. Seek permission to use any work of a third party which is copyright protected.
  3. Read and understand any copyright licence that you have been provided to avoid breaching the licence.

Is it illegal to 3D print Warhammer?

It is legal to 3D print Warhammer figures as long as you don't try to profit from selling them. You can only use 3D printed figures for your own entertainment when you're playing with friends and family. You cannot use them for business purposes or in gaming tournaments.

Can CAD drawings be copyrighted?

A technical drawing or blueprint is copyrighted as soon as it has been created and fixed in a tangible object. It does not need to be registered with the copyright office, nor does it need to include a copyright notice to receive copyright protection.


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3d model copyright law


Comment by Faustino Rehm

picture this because they've got nothing better to do you take a stroll around the--and a weapon see this awesome design you want to have it too so you get to work on reproducing it with your 3d printer or for that matter pretty much any other tool you can use to create something even the humble ctrl-c ctrl-v applies here but that's where you run into it copyright patents trademark rights maybe even thought your material was open-source well let me explain so today I want to touch on these four topics copyrights for intellectual property trademarks patents for inventions and while we're at it how open source works within that ecosystem this isn't going to be legal advice and while a fair bit of what I'm about to show you is based on the US and European situation and should be similar in other parts of the world they're still going to be differences from one country to the next so let's get into it first of all these four topics of copyright trademarks patents and open source are pretty much separate issues and with the exception of the interplay of copyright and open source none of these are inherently connected let's start with copyright and a lot of it is in the name already it's the exclusive right to copy an original work that's it well not quite copyright applies to creative work in the widest sense such as books and articles pictures videos music sculptures etc and software which is considered a literary work in the u.s. the scope of copyright is important to know because purely functional designs do typically not fall within the scope of copywriting can only really be protected by a patent just like ideas and processes and merely discoveries and unoriginal work don't get any acknowledgement as far as copyright goes at all so well for example I can claim copyright on my videos the texts and photos published alongside them I cannot claim a copyright for most of my 3d designs because they don't fall under the definition of creative work is they are mostly functional but also run into another detail of copyright law the threshold of originality essentially stating that even when your work is of an artistic nature it needs to pass a certain threshold of complexity or effort put into it to even be considered relevant for copyright at all so while say bluebies dragon designs are no doubt original works of art to which copyright does apply this simple blocky throne design might not quite pass the threshold actually neither do these company's logos as there aren't complex enough there are still registered trademarks though which we'll touch on in a second contrary to popular belief a creator does not need to register their work or at any sort of mark with text to their work to own the copyright on it so basically any image video music piece design etc that falls into the criteria I just mentioned is essentially copyright the author or rights reserved and that means you can't use it yes you're allowed to view it but you can't use it on your own website post it to Facebook or use it on a business card you can't integrate it into your own work or even publish modified versions and neither a disclaimer like I don't own the content shown here nor attribution to the original author are magic bullets that suddenly make that okay the US has a specialty there in the form of fair use meaning you are allowed to use excerpts for example from music tracks or movies to discuss criticise and parody the material as long as you add your own spin now the question is how does this apply to 3d printing well there's definitely a bit of discussion going on in that area but my understanding is something like this when you've got an original 3d design and simply printed the resulting part is still a reproduction of that design and therefore covered under the author's copyrights that is considering your looking at the design that is encapsulated in for example an STL file and not just the bits and bytes of the file itself but in either case grabbing arts and designs printing them and selling them for a profit is probably not okay and even just publishing designs based on other original content can infringe on their copyright as for example the authors of a 3d printable rocket design based on the tinting comics and another designer who published a left shark got to know when their designs were removed from Thingiverse after a DMCA notice however when it comes to something like design files and electronic schematics the current legal understanding is that while the actual drawing for example of a schematic is original work applicable to copyright the actual function of the circuit is not so well you can't redistribute and reuse the actual drawing itself you can still make copies of the circuit and use it for your own purposes since that's the exclusively functional portion of it which isn't covered by copyright and here's sort of where Creative Commons comes in as any copyright owner you have the choice of explicitly allowing others to use your work for free this doesn't mean you're giving away the copyright itself you're just giving out usage rights Creative Commons lets you decide how and for what purpose people and companies can use the content you release the most drastic one would be the cc0 license or a public domain where you allow anyone to use that work in any way and for any purpose obviously unless you're super religious about sharing everything signing away all rights might be too extreme so Creative Commons does allow you to put some conditions in place that people should follow when they use your content those go from having to attribute the author when his or her content is used for requiring any new content that is created from the original one to be released under a compatible license so if the original piece is creative commons attribution/share-alike the resulting work also needs to be licensed as creative commons attribution/share-alike you could also add conditions like not allowing to modify the work or not allowing it to be used in commercial products the last one is a bit critical because education in particular isn't clearly non-commercial so often work with that license addendum doesn't get used where it's needed the most these individual terms can be combined to form the various Creative Commons licenses so to recap copyright by default the Creator owns all rights to a creative work so even when he or she shows are posted publicly it doesn't mean you can too unless of course he decides to specify a liberal license like Creative Commons that allows other people to use their work copyright does not apply to many 3d printable models as they are either purely functional or don't pass the threshold of originality but wait there's more let's quickly touch on trademarks before we move on to patents so unlike copyright a trademark does usually need to be registered its purpose is to identify who made a product which for example keeps Pepsi from making a product called coca-cola or even from using similar sounding names or logos on their products keep in mind that trademarks and copyright are mostly independent of each other for example the co


Thanks for your comment Faustino Rehm, have a nice day.
- Katheleen Polfer, Staff Member


Comment by Ladonna

so for this episode of idea channel we're going to be talking about 3d printing and all of the challenges that 3d printing is bringing to intellectual property and to do that we're going to talk with my friend Michael Weinberg from Shapeways which is a well let you describe yourself and what Shapeways does so shapeways is a 3d printing company but what we do is not manufacture 3d printers but we have these big industrial 3d printers in a factory and so if you want access to that 3d printer you just design something you upload it and we can print it and send it to you or you can design something and upload it and open a shop and we'll print on demand for any customer who wants to buy from you and we'll just send you a markup and you are there I don't want to mess up your title I'm a general counsel general time the only warrior I shape with okay so I worry about all the legal stuff I spend a lot of time thinking about intellectual property law and the rules that govern our community to make sure that everyone can know what to expect when they're using 3d printers and just to get this out of the way so that we've been very specific and aboveboard have we paid you or Shapeways anything you have not has shapeways paid us anything we have not I think before we get really into the weeds talking about how 3d printing is sort of breaking copyrights and intellectual property maybe we should just cover the groundwork of what exactly it is 3d printing is and does so 3d printing is a technology that lets you take a digital file and turn it into a physical thing and it cuts the object up into super thin layers and then there's a machine the 3d printer that builds that object up one layer at a time and it can use all sorts of technologies to do that and all sorts of materials but the core idea is instead of having a block of something and cutting away until you have the object you want which is traditional manufacturing with 3d printing you just build it up from nothing and so you just have layer and layer and layer and layer until you have that one object is every 3d printer and extruder you're always extruding something not every 300 so most of the 3d printers that we have a factory are not those types of 3d printer so those printers are the ones that you know if you've seen them on desktops and things like that the way that ours usually work are sometimes there is a bed of powder and then it kind of does powder and then a little bit of glue that is specifically designed to be in place there are also machines that use a laser or some sort of light source immediately immediately onboard laser 3d building what that basically they either use it to melt if you have a bed of metal filings and you shoot the laser at the metal filings to Center them to turn them into a solid piece but all of them at their core they're thinking about building a layer moving up a little bit and building a slightly differently shaped layer until you form an object that has all sorts of physical properties I think this brings us now to the last thing that I want to touch on really briefly before we get into the intellectual property weeds which is 3d printing community it is an incredible community of people that are it's growing and becoming more and more diverse every day but you've got one group people who were attracted to 3d printing from a kind of engineering tinkering hacking standpoint where they just think is a really neat engineering challenge they're really interested in the machines and how to make the machines work and how to design functional things that they need every day right so they're kind of the engineering oriented people are coming in and that's a huge vein of people in that community and the other side are a bunch of designers who say I've had all these things in my head that I have had no way to bring into the real world and this is how I'm going to do it and this is so I'm going to use this technology to make that happen I think there's a bunch of other pods of people there are educators who really see this as a way of bringing kids in through various means they say oh we'll teach you design we'll teach you math will teach you engineering and there's the physical component it's not just on a screen and then there's a little university of lawyers who are we're attracted to her right interesting reasons of just sort of legal policy issues we have this community of people that are hacking on both to the technology and the objects themselves that then pushes up against the law that has existed for so long to control those things from what I understand it's complicated to know what object or what kind of object is protected is that true like it's yet sort it seems like it's on a case-by-case basis I hope it's not awesomely a case-by-case basis but I think that's exactly the first problem for most for your average person who's doing 3d printing and is thinking about intellectual property they learned about intellectual property through the internet where you're thinking about the music in the movies and the photographs and all those things and so if you're trying to figure out am i infringing on a song am i infringing on a movie am i infringing on a blog post your starting point is it's protected by copyright I'm going to a copyright analysis the easy kind of shorthand you can use is if it's a functional object it's outside the scope of copyright if it's a non-functional if it's a decorative object it's a sculpture it's within the world of copyright and so your first rule of thumb is that functional non-functional what are some examples of functional objects so a hinge okay for a handle for a door or a you know a piece to hold a shower curtain in place okay things that basically if you're an engineer designing something you're probably designing a funnel Mart if it has functional pieces that you know the tolerances matter it's going to perform something you want to perform that's you're in functional land you're probably largely outside of the scope of copyright with 3d printing there are lots of objects that are protected by copyright because there are non-functional creative works but there are also a lot of objects that are functional works that are categorically excluded from copyright protection because they're functional works and so they may be protected by a patent they may be protected by trademark but instead of the first question you have to ask yourself is is this infringement on copyright the first question you have to ask yourself backs up a step and says what if anything protects this office work is it protected by copyright is it protected by trademark is it protected by patent because the answer to that question governs the whole rest of the show well imagine and that question is not as easy to answer as you might want to be and that's I think one of the big challenges for people is it's requiring them to know even more law and you already have to know when you're thinking about copyright stuff which is already a lot la la la la and so what is the likelihood that someone is going to print something that infringes on a patent of a funct


Thanks Ladonna your participation is very much appreciated
- Katheleen Polfer


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