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Is it ethical, or a bit greasy?

CommonOne
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CommonOne polycounter lvl 4
Hey,
Is it ethical to find a model on TurboSquid, in this case a weapon - some what simple, that is exactly ( I mean it was perfect!) what you were looking for and decide to model it for yourself because it was too expensive? I mean I literally took the product image and used it to recreate the model myself. This is for a scene I'm working on - it will not be sold or used commercially.
I guess the reason I have to ask is because I feel kind of bad about it. I suppose that means it's probably not honest?
Any thoughts? 
Thanks!

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  • Cless
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    Cless polycounter lvl 6
    My thoughts on it are that it really isn't an issue, specifically if you are not selling it or using it commercially. It is always nice to ask the artist for permission though, since you are using their design after all (at least, that is what I always aim to do).
  • Tiles
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    Tiles polycounter lvl 8
    When you ask the original artist if it is allowed to steal his work, now what would you expect that he answers? :D

    Also, what would it help you when we say it is okay? It's really simple. It is neither greasy nor unethical. It is illegal. Design is under copyright too. And the line between stealing design and using the design as inspiration is very thin. What you want to do is imho already at the wrong side of the fence.
  • poopipe
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    poopipe polycount lvl 666
    IMO

    If it's not an original design(eg it's an M16) you have no moral dilemma - you're using it as a reference

    If it's an original design and you're not profiting from it, it would be polite to credit the original artist when using the piece in your portfolio

    If it's an original design and you're profiting from it then you  should get permission from,  credit and possibly compensate the original artist
  • Tiles
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    Tiles polycounter lvl 8
    Ah, nice dream. But this is not correct, sorry. A super mario sprite remains a super mario sprite, no matter if you use it as a reference or not. The design is under copyright. Not the work to create the sprite. And same counts for content at Turbosquid. The artist who has created the asset has once put work into the design. This design is under copyright then.

    And it has also nothing to do if you don't use it for a commercial project. The moment when you make it public is the moment where you have to care about copyright. And the goal of CommonOne was to remodel the original design as close as possible. And then the case is clear.

    There are some grey areas. When you for example model your super mario, and don't use the red cap and the blue dress, then it is no super mario anymore. But you could still be sued when the shape is too equal. As told, the line between stealing design and getting inspired by design is very very thin.

    I would study the model, and put it asides then. And then freely model my own version of it. Out of my head, without to use a single bit of it as a reference.
  • kanga
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    kanga sublime tool
    If the design is original then its unethical to copy it. Its not unethical to learn from the good points while making  your own design. Alot more fun that way anyhow.
  • Eric Chadwick
    Moving this to Career & Education, where you'll find similar topics.

    Copyright law is murky, lots of gray area. Though it mostly comes down to intent.
  • CommonOne
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    CommonOne polycounter lvl 4
    Thanks, everyone. I think I'll ease my conscience and try to design/model something on my own.
    Thanks again!
  • Joopson
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    Joopson Polycount Sponsor
    Tiles said:
    A super mario sprite remains a super mario sprite, no matter if you use it as a reference or not.
    Your example here is much more concrete, and cut-and-dry. You can trace a sprite literally pixel by pixel, and arrive at an exact copy of mario, exactly as he appears in his game. You can't do the same with a 3D model; the 3D model CommonOne talks about will never be the same as the model he's basing it on. It may be intended to look exactly like it, but it won't.

    Frankly though, I don't see the utility in copying a model entirely, when you could just find another design and build it, in a similar amount of time.

    In my opinion, OP is the only one who'll suffer from doing this; the results won't look as good as the original, or as good as a model truly from scratch, and it seems they also have a guilty conscience about it.
  • sacboi
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    sacboi quad damage
    Also keeping in mind, regarding non commercial use. Working from concept art which aligns with a personal interest is acceptable, even encouraged especially for those new to the medium whilst always remembering to conform with widely acknowledged etiquette too credit the artist, if the author's permission cannot be obtained via various methods of contact.
  • Tiles
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    Tiles polycounter lvl 8
    Yes, the Super Mario example was meant as a very concrete example :)
    But it does not stop at the pixels. Paint a character with a red hat a blue worker suit and a moustache, and people will quickly recognize it as Super Mario. It's these tree design points that makes a character to a super mario character. No matter if in 2d or 3D. Super Mario is especially because of this a very good example of design under copyright. And Nintendo is well known to sue people very quick for breaking their copyright.

    Would you be sued when you use the gun in question as a reference, steal the design, and remodel it? Most probably not. But that doesn't make it legal. On the other hand, this "borrowing" of ideas happens all the time. And it's always the quesiton how close you come to the original, or if it is already a own design. Copyright is really a difficult chapter ...
  • poopipe
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    poopipe polycount lvl 666
    It is not automatically illegal to copy a design - you are under a misconception there.

    It's up to the IP holder to determine whether your copy is a breach of their copyright or not. They own the rights to the design and can decide what freedom people have to create derivative works.



    As far as the OP goes It might help to look at it like this...

    In the case that the model is an M16 both the OP and the author of the original model have used IP belonging to whoever owns the rights to the M16 design.Both models are derivative works of the M16 design.

    In the case that the model is an original design then the OP has  used IP belonging to the original author and created a derivative work of the original authors design.
    There's no grey area here - the designer gets to decide whether the OP is allowed to make the model or not.


    The grey area in the M16 case is what actually constitutes the 3d model the OP is copying - this is not clear. 

    You could argue that the specific arrangement of vertices,UVs etc.is the original work - making a model similar to a book or script. In this case a from scratch copy would be a derivative work
    Or
    You could argue that the file offered for sale is the original work - in this  case a from scratch copy would not be a derivative work


  • Tiles
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    Tiles polycounter lvl 8
    Sure. When the author has given his permission then it's of course a completely different story. And then we wouldn't argue here. But i assume that permission is not given.
  • poopipe
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    poopipe polycount lvl 666
    You're missing the point.

    Permission does not have to be explicitly granted, it has to be explicitly withheld. If the IP holder does nothing you can copy and sell their design as much as you like.

    Cases are considered individually and precedence is taken into account when there's a dispute - which is where the grey comes in.

     Nintendo/Disney/fox etc are so litigious because they need to set a precedent for suing people who abuse their IP just in case a real rival does it and starts to make some real money off it. 
    ( Duracell Vs energizer bunny is a good example)
  • Tiles
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    Tiles polycounter lvl 8
    From a legal point this is plain wrong. It's the other way around. You are not allowed to use copyrighted material until you have the permission. It's the same than you would say dealing with drugs is legal as long as the cops doesn't get you ^^

    "They don't sue you anyways" is imho bad advice here, even if that's pretty much most of the time the case :)
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