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David Heller
David Heller
Editorial and site information posted from the ShareCG Team

Hey Artists! Please think about your usage rights!

January 5th, 2012 by David Heller

To artists:

By John Calder (iafilm)

I am here as an emerging film-maker looking for content for my animated films to enter into film festival competitions. This should be a win-win collaboration for us but I am running into problems with usage rights. Some requests of you:

In any copyright statement you write, BE CONSISTENT with the usage rights statement that you have selected.  eg if you select “Limited Use With Credits” then do NOT state “Non-commercial use only” inside your zip or in your descriptive text.

If you feel protective of your work then say so.  Select the STRICT options of “All Rights Reserved” or “Non-commercial use only”.  I prefer and suggest that you all go with “Non Commercial use only” AND in your statement name your price for commercial clearance.  Personally I select artwork from because it is good rather than free and I WANT to pay you for it upfront because it gives me a better sense of security of usage permission.  Speaking for film-makers in general, especially my student film-makers, we do not want your little prop in the background of one scene lurking as a copyright bomb to spoil future opportunities.  These movies have something like a 1 in 3000 chance of getting money-earning opportunities  eg through winning a film festival award and even then would be way below turning a profit.  But we want to know your upgrade path in case the magic day should come.

BE CONTACTABLE.  If your email address is getting old and forgotten then put a redirection on it.   Again that is why naming your price is important.  We can go ahead knowing what will happen about clearance when we contact you.

BE REASONABLE about movie credits.  Short films need to have short credits and typically that would be one line of your name or username under a heading like “Additional Artwork”.  I can sing your praises in more detail on my “making of” website pages.

BE CLEAR about movie credits.  Some artists are protective about identity and want me to publish only their username.  Others want to see their real name up in lights.  Others want a pseudonym.  Which one are you?  Tell me!

DO NOT EXPECT a copy of the movie immediately.  We cannot risk leakage onto the public internet because that would disqualify us from film festival competitions.  I will try to give contributors as much as I safely can eg the shot where your coffee cup or whatever appears, but you may need to wait like a year for a full DVD or download.

I know via contacts with the game and film industry that producers often insist on creating all artwork from scratch or their own controlled sources.  They ban their contractors and interns from using sources like  I used to laugh at this and think that websites like this are a good idea.  Now after some bad experiences I can start to see their point.  It is a fact that commercial and emerging producers are avoiding this website and its artists which denies opportunities for the artists here.  You all need better copyright clearance management to get acceptance and hitch a ride forward on any film festival success or indie co-op success. can take note as well.  I suggest that it needs an e-commerce facility to take payments for upgrading non-commercial use to commercial licenses.  That would help with the difficult-to-contact-artist problem.

Independent Alternative Film-makers (iafilm)

5 Responses to “Hey Artists! Please think about your usage rights!”

  1. Bharat Bhagwat says:

    Hello David,
    I just went thru this blog. I am interested in working as a freelancer for your productions or as on site freelancer. I am not much of a “haggler” when it comes to fees, if I am working from home. If you like any of my artwork currently loaded on sharecg please let me know, I will be glad to send it to you (will also make correction to the models,animations, if required) and accept whatever compensation you may think right for them, alongwith mention in the credits. Also if you need anything newly modeled in Max I will do it on above basis. So let me know.
    Best Regards
    Bharat Bhagwat

  2. Jude Harvey says:

    Thank you, John, for posting this to ShareCG. It’s nice to know that like-minded, independent artists are not only actually reading the ‘ReadMe’ licenses but requesting this kind of consistency and detail. I feel it brings incentive to the many artists here to raise the bar on their own organization & structure of their contributions. It inspired me, for one. Great post =) Thanks again!

  3. iafilm says:

    Follow-up. Lots of discussion of this in the Creative Commons community. eg article which argues agains “non-commercial” as a label. Quotes: NC “may rule out other basic and beneficial uses which you want to allow”.
    “While you may feel you are making a donation to the public domain when licensing your work under an -NC variant, you are effectively supporting the existing, extremely long international copyright terms. The restrictions on commercial use will remain in place until the copyright of your work expires which, for most practical purposes, is never. To solve this problem, you could specify that the work falls back to a more permissive license such as CC-BY (attribution only), or to the public domain, after 5 years or any other amount. You could also choose a more permissive license to begin with.”

    Article suggests: “You might feel … that you want to track usage of your work, and enter interactions with those who wish to go beyond what the license allows. But to achieve this, you can simply state: “You are free to use this work in any way you want to, as long as you attribute me as the creator. Depending on the scope of the use, it would be nice if you could also tell me about it.””

  4. SickleYield says:

    Hear, hear. I don’t make films, I sell clothes and props for DAZ Studio, but I have the same problem – I use freebies as well as commercial products in my promotional material, and permissions are often a headache. I have too large a runtime to bother with things I can’t use commercially, because it’s too much of a hassle separating them out. If it says anything other than “commercial renders ok, contents not for redistribution,” I don’t download it. That doesn’t fix the problem of people’s readmes disagreeing with their ShareCG license statements, though.

  5. Chikako says:

    You should also use due diligence in ensuring all models you use that you do not create in house have a verifiable source.

    Sometimes models are posted as free share sites, and because a free share site is well known, you might believe you have the right to use the model – because that site has a EULA.

    In most cases, the site never verifies the source of a model at all, and it only grants rights that it believes it has. What are your rights if the model is removed as a result of a copyright infringement situation? Right – you have none, because you are violating the copyrights of the real source of the model. The network may be in the clear under safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Act.

    You aren’t. In all cases, you use at your own risk.

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