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3d models generated from photos of everyday objects: Legal to sell?

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Hello,

I've been playing around with software which which generates 3d objects from a series of photos. It actually works pretty well! My first attempt at creating a 3d model of an apple was a big success. In the long run, I would like to create packs of inexpensive 3d objects to sell to game developers.

Then I started thinking about the legal ramifications. Let's say that I find an old Black & Decker toaster oven from the 80's. I shoot the required 20-odd photos of it from various angles and the software spits out a 500 polygon 3d model, fully textured. I edit the texture map, removing the "Black and Decker" logo. However, anyone who owns the same toaster oven would be able to recognize it. Can I sell that 3d model?

Let's assume that the 3d models shows up in the next Grand Theft Auto game (ya, right!). And, let's change my example model from a toaster oven to a Volkswagen Bug. I'm assuming that would be a big no-no, and if that would land me in hot water, the toaster oven would be no different.

Anyone experienced in these matters? Just about everything in this world was NOT made by me. Ha ha ha.

Thanks so much!
- Bret

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Quote:
Original post by gamebeep
Let's say that I find an old Black & Decker toaster oven from the 80's. I shoot the required 20-odd photos of it from various angles and the software spits out a 500 polygon 3d model, fully textured. I edit the texture map, removing the "Black and Decker" logo. However, anyone who owns the same toaster oven would be able to recognize it. Can I sell that 3d model?
Just about everything in this world was NOT made by me. Ha ha ha.

No. You can't. Ha ha ha.
Read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/faq61.htm

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The overall look and feel of real world objects can be protected by trade dress if it is distinctive enough to identify the source of the product. The coke bottle is a classic example. Using real world objects such as a VW bug w/o permission may suggest a false endorsement from VW.

There may also be copyright protection for non-functional elements of real world objects if it can be physically separated w/o destroying the objects function or "conceptually" separable in the sense the design could be imagined w/o reference to the object. Think of a car's grill design as an example.

When in doubt, be original. It will save you the effort of worrying about these issues when you are working on your next project.

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Thanks Tom and Kdog. I agree with both of you and have decided to error on the side of caution. Sad, I was excited about the idea of creating a huge library of 3d models for indie game developers to use in their games. But the reality is that photographing real-world objects (man-made) and selling those 3d models would be a legal gray area.

I would be curious if, by studying.. say... the computer equipment in half-life 2, if the knobs weren't representative of a particular company. (Knobs are a big deal in some crowds!)

I also wonder, when taking photographs of buildings for textures, like windows, doors, etc, if those are also a no-no to use in games? I'm sure game companies don't hire carpenters to create the doors and windows for their photo-realistic textures. I'm just thinking out loud here. It's interesting stuff.

Cheers!
- Bret

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