View Full Version : cannot copyright wireframes... now that's INTERESTING!

jin choung
06-22-2008, 03:42 AM

i can totally see both sides of this. kind of like being able to see both images of gestalt psych images... i can totally see the cube as convex and concave at the same time.


you can argue that the fact that the wireframe model is inherently DIFFERENT from the object and therefore copyright-able but you could argue that about a photo as well.

imo, it could be a good ruling. especially since it allows people to make models of real life copyrighted things in the first place....


06-22-2008, 04:21 AM
Well the ruling didn't say wireframes, in general, could not be copyrighted, but the models presented in that particular case could not be copyrighted because they were merely copies of something else that was copyrighted.

Interesting case. I'm surprised that the advertising agency that subcontracted out to the modeling company actually agreed to a single use of the models created, knowing that they could be needed for TV spot(s), Web site, printed materials, etc., and then turned around and used the models multiple times.

06-22-2008, 04:21 AM
Interesting conundrum. My head already hurts from trying to agree with both sides, which I do. ;)

I'm curious though, how did this get to court to begin with? Did Toyota try to sue someone?
What about if a Toyota (or any model) logo is omitted and the design is changed slightly? Like, slight alteration of curvature which isn't exact? Surely they can't copyright the general overall shape of a car.

Well, maybe due to things like this the next generation of vehicles will be designed by Average Joe hobbyist modelers who can then make Toyota and everyone else pay them to use their designs. ;)

06-22-2008, 06:08 AM
Artist's take note from the court document in this case:

An initial suit for copyright infringement was dismissed without
prejudice because Meshwerks had not obtained registrations for all of the
copyrights it claimed defendants infringed. Meshwerks subsequently registered
the copyrights at issue and filed this suit.

It has come up before about copyright. In order to defend it or prosecute it in a court of law, you have to first register it. I am a little surprised that Meshwerks did not know this.

I am not sure how you would stop somebody from using something you created as much as they wanted. I don't know much about that part of the law, but clearly the copyright tack, though it might have seemed the way to go to them, is not going to cut it in this case.

I think it only went to court because they had those registrations. Weather they should have been able to get them or not is another question, but once they had them they had to be heard.

This would open the door to some very shaky ground if you could copyright the work you did for say Disney on some of their original characters and try to sue them based on copyright if they used your wires in another film.

Just another way to look at it.

06-22-2008, 06:55 AM
It looks like the best way to do a commercial would be to hire someone to just build the model, then do the lighting and texturing 'inhouse' to keep all the copywritable stuff under 1 roof so to speak.

06-22-2008, 08:38 PM
I am wondering about issues such as mesh flow. Choosing which way to split a quad, where to subdivide more or less, seem to me to be artistic choices (if not done purely algorithmically or mechanically) which can make a mesh original, just as much as choosing a lighting setup can.


06-22-2008, 08:47 PM
UGH. I really wish all these people would post the truth and not such things.

1. Toyota contracted Meshworks to 3d scan cars into 3d models for them, under contract.
2. Toyota then took the 3d meshs and sent them to another company, cause they contracted the 3d models they understood it that they owned the models.
3. The decision by the court was that meshworks 3d scans were not copyrightable due to the fact that they did not create unique 3d works and that the contract thtat they were under did not lend Meshworks to own the data or models they worked on.
4. Meshworks lost.

ya know I really wish that sites had to post to the total original descisions as writing by the courts.

This was a copyright case, which really should have been trademark and contract. The cort upheld that Toyota did nothing wrong based on the contract with Meshworks and that Meshworks did not create unique enough 3d models to be considered 3d copyrightable works by meshworks.

When working under contract ya have to read the ENTIRE contract

jin choung
06-22-2008, 08:51 PM
I am wondering about issues such as mesh flow. Choosing which way to split a quad, where to subdivide more or less, seem to me to be artistic choices (if not done purely algorithmically or mechanically) which can make a mesh original, just as much as choosing a lighting setup can.


right but same thing with photography... what f-stop, what angle, etc....

but if you're taking a photo of a thing that is trademarked, there evidently is a legal line where such things don't count.

as i said, interesting.


06-22-2008, 08:53 PM
"While fully appreciating that digital media present new frontiers for
copyrightable creative expression, in this particular case the uncontested facts
reveal that Meshwerks’ models owe their designs and origins to Toyota and
deliberately do not include anything original of their own; accordingly, we hold
that Meshwerks’ models are not protected by copyright and affirm."

sounds like the court got it right to me.

full decision can be read here: http://ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/06/06-4222.pdf

06-22-2008, 08:55 PM
I actually got it wrong after reading the decision.

Meshwerks were subcontracted to do the work they weren't hired by Toyota, they were hired by G&W.

06-26-2008, 10:57 PM
This sort of stuff is very interesting.... It brings up lots of questions.... questions with no easy answers... like all those cases you hear about where a photographer took a photo of something in the public domain and then someone else used elements out of that photo and claim they are only using the public domain parts instead of the photo parts that are still not in the public domain...

Corp. (S.D.N.Y. 1999), Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled that exact photographic copies of two-dimensional public domain works of art are not copyrightable under U.S. law, because such images are not original. Yet nearly a decade after that decision, copyright in many such images continues to be asserted.