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Using resources from "free" websites?

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I was looking for a specific 3D model for a project I'm working on and I stumbled across this website, which happens to have the exact model I need.

 

http://archive3d.net/

 

I've seen websites like these before, that host a whole bunch of so called "free" resources. However nowhere on the website does it have any information about who created the model, what the license terms are for it, etc...

 

How do these sort of websites normally work? I'm just trying to figure out if I can use the model I found on there or not.

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I've seen websites like these before, that host a whole bunch of so called "free" resources. However nowhere on the website does it have any information about who created the model, what the license terms are for it, etc...
Which is a giant red flag that they've probably just stolen the content from elsewhere and aggregated it all into their own website.

You see the same thing all the time with font and wallpaper websites :(

 

It's probably safe enough for hobby or educational work, but if you're trying to be a legitimate businessman, I'd avoid sites like that.

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Using resources from "free" websites?

I was looking for a specific 3D model ...
I've seen websites like these before, that host a whole bunch of so called "free" resources.


When I saw your subject line, I thought you were looking for people. 3D models and graphics and sound are called "assets." The word "resources" usually refers to people and money.

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It's probably safe enough for hobby or educational work, but if you're trying to be a legitimate businessman, I'd avoid sites like that.


Pretty much any assets online are safe for hobby/educational purposes as long as your work doesn't get published.

So I'd go ahead and use them to your hearts content unless you plan on publishing your game.

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As placeholders, knock yourself out. Fair-use gives you a pretty wide berth as long as you're not distributing your derivative work, but note that whether you do so in exchance for money or not is of no consequence -- for example, I can create a shirt for myself with the image of Mickey Mouse on it and Disney can't do anything to me, but I can't sell or even give away that shirt or copies of it, nor can I claim any sort of domain or ownership of the likeness of Mickey Mouse (I would own the copyright of my particular image that I created of Mickey Mouse, but my ability to distribute it depends first upon whether I secure the right to use his likeness from Disney).

 

As a rule of thumb, if the source of a free asset doesn't cite the current owner of the copyright, or is not specifically licensed by them under a 'copyleft' license like the creative Commons' CC-by-SA, then you are inviting woe on yourself by attempting to distribute it as part of your own work (again, whether you profit from distribution or not has no bearing, distribution to any other person is where the fault lies, unless the particular use is covered under safe-havens like reporting, critique, or parody). If you don't know who you would credit for the work, even if they don't require you to do so, you can't say with any certainty that its safe to use.

 

 

All of that said, I am not a lawyer and neither are most folks on this site. Lots of us might have had some experience dealing with similar issues from the business (as opposed to legal) side of things, and while we always do our best to not mislead anyone on such matters, no ad-hoc advice on an internet forum constitutes legal advice, even if it did come from a lawyer.

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My general advice is to always stick to the license. You never know how big your project might get, and the problems tend to scale faster than your project's actual value.

Look back at Evony, when they used Warcraft II sprites ripoff at launch... 

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If you want free to use art and music take a look at opengameart.org if you don't want to pay. Be careful and read the license and attribution instructions on each asset to be sure you don't cause problems. You probably want to stay away from GPL licensed materials (same as I did) as that is a viral license that enforces sharing of source, and stick to cc-by-sa creative commons and public domain licensed work.

 

Failing that if you're willing to pay a small amount there are some sites such as 3dmodels-textures.com selling very high quality assets at very low price that you can use freely in your game (you just can't modify them freely).

 

You can also use your personal network to see if any game developer friends are happy to share their assets with you under a permissive license. You wont know until you ask!

 

Good luck! :)

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