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3D Modeling Industry Criticizes Objaverse for Use of Sketchfab Models

Objaverse, a newly launched website with over 800,000 3D assets has raised concerns among the 3D modeling community over the origin of its models. According to Sketchfab CEO Alban Denoyel, the company scraped a large number of its models from Sketchfab before Sketchfab implemented a NoAI tag, and mass-processed them without the knowledge of the original 3D artists.

While all the models available for download were licensed under Creative Commons, it appears that Objaverse did not properly credit the creators, which goes against the CC license. Sketchfab's terms of service also prohibit the use of user-generated content for the development of generative AI programs, a policy that Objaverse seems to have breached.

Alban confirmed that no Epic-partnered research organization or academic institution has been given access to the Sketchfab repository backend by Epic or its subsidiaries for the purpose of scraping. The incident has raised concerns about the use of user-generated content for AI training purposes.

How 3D Artists Can Protect Their 3D Models from AI Scaping

As a 3D artist, there are several steps you can take to protect your 3D models from being scraped and used without your permission.

The simplest option is to remove your free 3D models from sites like Sketchfab, especially if you are concerned about them being scraped. This means however that other 3D artist will no longer have access to your 3D models.

Another option is to charge a small symbolic amount for your models, as this makes it less likely that they will be scraped. You can also add additional Creative Commons (CC) terms on Sketchfab to specify how others may share, edit, and use your models. The following CC licenses are available:

  • CC BY – Attribution (default, always on): Specifies that someone who uses your work must give you credit for it.
  • CC BY-NC – Non Commercial (optional): Others cannot use your model commercially.
  • CC BY-ND – No Derivatives (optional): Others may use and share the model, but it cannot be altered.
  • CC BY-SA – ShareAlike (optional): Depending on the NC choices, others may share, edit, and use the model, but derivative work must be shared under the same license.

Adding the NoAi tag may also help, although we're unsure specifically how this prevents AI companies from using your work.

The issue with simply changing the license terms or using NoAI-tags is that if an AI company were to use your work, you still don't have a lot of options apart from taking legal action. This is expensive and time consuming. We recommend simply charging a symbolic fee if you want your models available for download.

By taking these steps, 3D artists can help protect their 3D models from unauthorized use and ensure that they are properly credited for their work.

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Morten Jaeger

Co-Founder of FlippedNormals. I have a passion creating tutorials and a not so secret love for Japan

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