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If I create a 3D model and texture for a client, say a house. Can I reuse that same 3D model, but apply a new texture and then legally use that in my own game? Is that enough of a difference?

Thanks!

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"Is it still illegal if I only jack half a car?" –  Sean Middleditch Jul 28 '13 at 22:11

3 Answers 3

It depends on the contractual agreement you have with your client. If they own all source art assets you create, then the safe answer is "no".

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But I guess it's ok for college-work (assuming no commercial goals) –  IMX May 6 '13 at 18:36
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Commercial or not only matters if it's specified as such in the contract. Copyright infringement is copyright infringement regardless on whether or not you make a profit. –  Tetrad May 6 '13 at 18:43
    
Might be true, Tetrad. But as practice has shown, copyright holders usually tolerate use of their work for an educational purpose. I, for instance, never had trouble doing so. –  IMX May 6 '13 at 19:50
    
"Usually" means "the educational institution asked for permission from the author," and not "just used it and prayed to not get sued." Part of the price of buying your work went into exclusive ownership, otherwise the contract would have a provision covering reuse. Imagine, if you will, that you contracted a level to be built and next month that level shows up in another game with new textures. You'd be mad as heck at paying for work someone else is now using for free, plus the value of the work is now degraded. –  Patrick Hughes May 6 '13 at 21:02
    
@IMX: There have definitely been instances, in games even, of companies going after educational institutions. If doing it unofficially as a student you also risk being accused of cheating/plagiarism. –  Sean Middleditch Jul 29 '13 at 5:41

I would comment, but there is a 50 rep requirement for some reason. Anywho, this is the same as asking "Can I reprint an author's book as long as it has a different cover?".

If you make it to sell to a client, then I would say the answer is one big no. It is that client's property, not yours.

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I agree with the contract statements, but if I were you, I would use the original mesh as a base, then expand/improve/modify it to a point where it is no longer the same as it was but has helped you to save time when making the new model - the term for this is 'kit bashing' - creating a bunch of reusable assets that you re-use whenever you need a similar mesh to save time.

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That's still technically a derived work. –  Peter Taylor May 7 '13 at 9:34
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But there has to be a point where everything could be considered a derived work.. –  MephistonX May 7 '13 at 10:31
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@MephistonX: of course not. If you open up Max, don't even load the original house asset, and then another house, it's very clearly not a derived work. In general, if you start with A to get to B then B is derived from A, even if they end up being highly dissimilar. If A and B were created independently, neither is likely to be considered derivative of the other, but play it safe and don't go making direct clones. –  Sean Middleditch Jul 29 '13 at 5:49

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