I’ve been asked my opinion on one of our competitors going “Generic”. My first thought was that it was an interesting choice of words on their part.
TurboSquid is an ardent supporter of fair use of 3D models, and that will not change. We will continue refining our handling of cases, how we label items, and so on. I personally engage with each case and concern about items sold on TurboSquid. Some gray area does indeed exist, and it is a personal mission of mine to do my best to make that as black and white as possible. That will help everyone: artists, manufacturers, and TurboSquid.
It takes thought, engagement, and respect towards people who are worried about TurboSquid’s intent and our artists’ intent. Fair use is ethical. Our artists are ethical. Our customers are ethical.
I’ve been insulted by lawyers many times, but when they figure out that we are a professional company, that our artists are professionals, and our customers are professionals (who include a huge number of news outlets), the conversation changes.
Bottom line: these folks become reasonable when they understand we respect their intellectual property. You would be surprised about which things people care about. It is *not* obvious. That’s why I want to participate in discussions and work with them. I purposefully do not invite TurboSquid’s lawyers. The reality is that the internet has run ahead of current legal frameworks that originated from the notion of copying books hundreds of years ago. That said, legislatures do not want to make stupid legislation that harms progress. Courts don’t want to make historically bad decisions when the nature of intellectual property itself is changing.
That leaves rational people to the process of solving this as a business problem, not a legal problem.
TurboSquid has worked a lot with big companies in strategic capacities. We have had many people try to acquire TurboSquid. Instead, we chose to keep our independence. Solving the problem of managing fair use is exactly the kind of problem we can tackle. But a big company that has a legal department, and that doesn’t care about visual 3D, just doesn’t need the headache.
If you are an artist with your content taken down from another site, let’s avoid the spin — content that was taken down is obviously not selling now. This is a loss to you, not a new opportunity. We created SquidGuild Bridge last year at the request of people who wanted to participate in CheckMate and higher royalty rates. If it makes sense for you, we’re happy to have you join.
Remember, as an artist, you are responsible to make sure that you publish content for which you own or have the rights to publish — all of those rights. Artists warrant to us that they have these rights, and we tried to make this clearer in our publisher recently, and our license revisions. If you don’t own the rights from a manufacturer, for example, to generally sell a 3D model, then you must list it as editorial use only. TurboSquid does not protect you from your own infringement. Some artists selling on their own sites have been tracked down and contacted directly by big companies, and those artists acted as they saw fit. On our site, TurboSquid does a very good job keeping the peace and talking sense into all parties when there is conflict.
On a personal note, I know we (and I) pissed off a lot of artists when we started the SquidGuild and changed our royalty rates in 2009. It was hard to be criticized, but I understood why and knew that a meaningful number of artists felt like we broke their trust. The competitor I mentioned earlier took this to a level that was really out-of-bounds, with outlandish accusations about what we were doing and future conspiracies about what would happen and how we would keep changing royalty rates and all kinds of things.
The only thing that we could do (that we were willing to do) was to stay the course with our original intent and over time earn back trust from those artists. The royalty rates stayed the same, we have invested in trying to create great content, and we have many more opportunities on the horizon. We have not abandoned our core business, and believe that the future of the industry is not in a race to the bottom on pricing, and it is not in printable 3D. At least, not for people who love making incredibly photoreal models.
The future is in taking the work we love, working in the apps we love, and reaching a much, much broader audience. TurboSquid has made a huge number of investments to make this happen, and they will roll out when they are ready. 3D is hard to do well, but it will have its day, and it will be big.