Are the 3ds exporters legal?

General discussion about the development of the open source Blender

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3D-Can
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Are the 3ds exporters legal?

Post by 3D-Can » Mon Oct 03, 2005 10:21 pm

I'm new to the blender scene I understand the open source GNU in regard to the main blender application but it appears to me that the exporters I've seen are external creations and I find nothing in the GNU documentation noting permission to use 3DS Max data structures.

Are these 3DS exporters legal to use in a commercial setting? Would people who used those exporters be violating an autodesk or discreet licence :?:

Please, I'm not looking to pick a fight I just need a solid answer, not a bunch of shoot from the hip opinions.

Thanks
3D-Can

ysvry
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Post by ysvry » Tue Oct 04, 2005 2:10 am

if they import uvmapped materials properly they are other wisethey arent, are the gifimporters legal or do people using them pay aol?

kakapo
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Post by kakapo » Tue Oct 04, 2005 2:30 am

i think a format itself can't be copyrighted and the 3ds format isn't the 3dsmax format but an outdated format from the dos 3dstudio times.

with gif the problem was the patented compression algorithm which is needed to write it but this patent is expired now.

3D-Can
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Post by 3D-Can » Tue Oct 04, 2005 4:00 pm

I don't see why not since a data format is just a program or program recipe. The person producing the mesh would own the model but the file format might be proprietary.

The copyrights of any work exists usually 80 years past the death of the author. If it is protected by patent alone it may be expired but copyrights for software exist way past obsolecence.

What I want to know is is there a formal understanding between autodesk or discreet to use their data structures similar to that that exists for text like ASCII.

I'm afraid that someone using this exporter might be liable for damages to Autodesk if it were found out that they were producing 3ds files without purchasing or owning an original licence. It certainly is not clearly stated in documentation. Why not?

Who cares if it is freeware if it turns out the main saleable exported product is not legal for sale even if it does have some cool features that the big 3d packages don't.

kAinStein
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Post by kAinStein » Tue Oct 04, 2005 7:51 pm

3D-Can wrote:I don't see why not since a data format is just a program or program recipe. The person producing the mesh would own the model but the file format might be proprietary.
A data format is not a program - it's just what it is: a data format. It isn't a piece of work besides of the code that writes/reads it - so copyright isn't touched in any way if you don't use copyrighted code (means: if you "steal" code that produces the data format) for your own importer/exporter.

But: In some countries the process of writing/reading a special data format *might* be protected by software patents (that's *one* reason why they're bad). I'm not a lawyer and definitely don't know how things are handled somewhere else in the world besides of Europe - but it *might* cause trouble where you live. Though I don't really think so. Most probably the author would get in trouble first and forced not to distribute his importer/exporter any more. Similiar things have happened before with other software (BMRT for example - and it happened when BMRT turned from shareware to totally commercial and became a real low cost alternative to Renderman) - and they happened quite early. So, since the big players in the 3D industry are aware of Blender and it's capabilities, I doubt that something like you described would happen (because it did not happen before - but I might be wrong. More strange things have happened: SCO vs. the world for example).
The copyrights of any work exists usually 80 years past the death of the author. If it is protected by patent alone it may be expired but copyrights for software exist way past obsolecence.

What I want to know is is there a formal understanding between autodesk or discreet to use their data structures similar to that that exists for text like ASCII.
As I said copyright isn't applicable on this.
It certainly is not clearly stated in documentation. Why not?
Probably because it depends on the country where you are and things are handled differently in other countries.
Who cares if it is freeware if it turns out the main saleable exported product is not legal for sale even if it does have some cool features that the big 3d packages don't.
Free Software != freeware ;)

LetterRip
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Post by LetterRip » Tue Oct 04, 2005 8:59 pm

Copyright can only be on creative works things like data structures are specifically excluded. (Patents related to a file format are still a possibility though, but only recently has such been tried).

So, in short - unless the individual copied code from someone elses importers, copyright infringement is not a possibility.

LetterRip

stiv
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Post by stiv » Tue Oct 04, 2005 11:53 pm

I just need a solid answer, not a bunch of shoot from the hip opinions.
So you are asking on the Internet? If you actually need a legal opinion, get a lawyer.

3D-Can
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Getting somewhere...

Post by 3D-Can » Wed Oct 05, 2005 2:49 am

To the considered replies, I appreciate your thoughts. These logical strings depend on whether it is true that data structure is legally considered proprietary. I know autodesk has every version of its software registered with the copyright office. Also if the exporters themselves use parts of protected code, that's got to be a no brainer.


Stiv;
I'm asking on this forum (not the internet) since it cost me zero money, has the highest concentration of blender experts and I knew I'd get at least a few wizened responses if not a direct reply from the script coder, or blender higher up.

I really want to know if there is an understanding between blender and autodesk on the use of these exporters. That's not a hard question.

If I find anything else I'll post it to the thread.

3D-Can
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Data Structures=Software=>copyrightable

Post by 3D-Can » Wed Oct 05, 2005 3:00 am

LetterRip wrote:Copyright can only be on creative works things like data structures are specifically excluded. (Patents related to a file format are still a possibility though, but only recently has such been tried).

So, in short - unless the individual copied code from someone elses importers, copyright infringement is not a possibility.

LetterRip
Do you have evidence to support this claim? As far as I can tell patents have long been abandoned to copyrights as the prefered method of software protection. They are almost free and damn near immortal.

Maybe you have a link you can point me to.

Thanks,

LetterRip
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Post by LetterRip » Wed Oct 05, 2005 3:33 am

3D-Can,

I can first pretty much tell you for certain that Blender does not have a formal agreement with Autodesk or any other vendor of software for our exporters.

File formats can be designed to prevent others from legally interoperating them by using encryption and then utilizing the provisions of the DMCA which disallow circumvention of a copyright encryption device. However, asside from the recent development of the DMCA it has been perfectly legal to read and write data formats assuming a patented process were not involved in their creation (ie .gif files)
Do you have evidence to support this claim?
feel free to talk to a lawyer or fire off an email to the electronic freedom foundation and they will probably be able to give you a more 'authoritative' answer. I'm positive that I am right, but am not going to do case law research for ya :)
As far as I can tell patents have long been abandoned to copyrights as the prefered method of software protection. They are almost free and damn near immortal.
It is fairly trivial to avoid copyright infringement, especially for software. Patents are to protect ones area of development from competitors, or to establish a defensive portfolio if you are sued by a competitor, or to establish a cross licensing portfolio to make competitors share their patents, or to generate licensing revenue.

The idea that patents have been abandoned for software are pretty ridiculous. Indeed they have been growing at an enourmous rate and quite likely outnumber all other patent applications combined.

LetterRip

LetterRip
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Post by LetterRip » Wed Oct 05, 2005 3:41 am


joeri
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Post by joeri » Wed Oct 05, 2005 10:19 am

strange question.
" Are these 3DS exporters legal to use in a commercial setting? "

You can sell these exporters under the GNU license.
You can get paid using these exporters, creating something into a patented data structure is not illegal to the one creating it, it might be to the one offering the possibility to do so. For example, gif was a patented data structure, making a gif was not illegal, making software that can create a gif without paying for the license was.

"Would people who used those exporters be violating an autodesk or discreet licence Question"
All in all you are better of not knowing; is the coffee you drink at starbucks made with legal work or are there slaves involved? And even if there are slaves involved, thus this make you do something illegal drinking that coffee? There are no law cases (yet) showing the outcome of this question.

That was from the hip.

There is no understanding between the blender foundation and autodesk, but the export scripts are distributed by the bf but not owned by the bf. And as far as I know there is no understanding (deal) between the script writers and autodesk. Information on the file format is got truw books and reversed enginering. Although the US do their best to make that illegal, it still is not, at least not in europe.

fligh
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Post by fligh » Wed Oct 05, 2005 6:38 pm

My importer/exporter is both copyrighted and patented in Somalia.

Seriously though, what scares me even more than the fact that I may be breaking some obscure law by using a piece of code, is the fact that there are people out there who believe that these companies have some inalienable right to prevent 2 users of different software from sharing. That being so, despite the fact that the software has been legally paid for!
The question is, "do you want to be a serf, a peon, a slave of industry, or have you just allowed them to brainwash you?".

My intention is not to denegrate you personally or to make light of your sense of honesty, but if you want OSS to survive then you're going to have to put your Vroom jacket on and fight for it.

%<

3D-Can
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Vroom

Post by 3D-Can » Wed Oct 05, 2005 8:38 pm

Not sure where my Vroom jacket is or what it looks like :lol:

Though true I've been playing a little Devil's advocacy here, the intent is to shed light to the subject.

Letterip: Copyrights are universally used on all new, old and upgraded titles. Patents must have a novelty which becomes more and more difficult to get especially on upgraded titles. Patents can cost anywhere from 250K->almost 1M$ for heavily researched and defended works. Patents may be issued with much less cost, but these low budget jobs, aren't worth the paper they're printed on and are only an invitation to be sued when the USPTO broadcasts to the world the concept. In many ways these kinds of patents are simply a marketing tool and a sort of credential for the inventor and offer almost no protection.

Although it is foolish not to get patent protection on truly novel software, it might be equally foolish to wait to release a title simply to secure a patent when a copyright can protect as well. Each patent application must have one unique main concept that is novel or else there needs to be more patents applied for which can multiply a software titles patent cost a great deal.

Copyrights cost as little as 30$ to register plus nominal fees. The registration is only required for court litigation. The works registered there are proprietary and not searchable and therefore are not broadcast to the world as are patents.

I'm already a member of EFF so I'll take a look there and to the links you provided.

Thanks :wink:

3D-Can
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Post by 3D-Can » Wed Oct 05, 2005 9:14 pm

joeri wrote:strange question.
" Are these 3DS exporters legal to use in a commercial setting? "
For example, gif was a patented data structure, making a gif was not illegal, making software that can create a gif without paying for the license was.
So the exporter developers are collecting and paying a licence? No. Autodesk has over 170 patents covering their 3D and other products. Discrete has more and autodesk owns discrete. I don't pretend to know that the 3ds file format is patented. If I find the patent, I'll post it's link here. Unlike Letterrip, I'm reasonably certain that they own their own copyrights.

Because they may not have asserted their rights (patent, copyright, trade secrets and trademark) doesn't mean that the blender group or an agent of this group can claim these rights as their own because they reverse engineered the software.
:o

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