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Model distributions and concerns
The editing and distribution of models has been the most controversial when it comes to MikuMikuDance. Though the software is freeware, MMD models are not allowed to be freely distributed without permission of their owners, who impose some restrictions on the use and release of their models outside of their control. Some model producers only release via a "invitation-only" communities where access is restricted. Others are not part of a community but allow download from a blog or account, but will pull any model when users do not abide on the restrictions.
Basic MMD outline
All MMD users follow some basic guidelines;
- HiguchiM, the MMD platform author, does not own any MMD models.
- The default models except for Meiko Sakine were created by Animasa and the default Sakine model was created by Kio. Both creators permit the edit and redistribution explicitly.
- HiguchiM does not give guarantee to the the use of fanmade models. Only the default ones are guaranteed.
- The tacit rule among MMD creators is this. If a model author announces that he/she approves the edit and redistribution, you can do; if he/she does not announce, you may not do. In other words, if a author says nothing about the secondary processing, it means NO. You can do only what a creator says yes.
Notice: If you do not understand the Japanese usage rule or readme, you should refrain from redistributing or processing the model. Please remember, too, that the machine translator is not fully trustworthy especially when translating languages from totally different families such as Japanese and English.
Common producer outlines
The following are common outlines used by producers, although not all producers use the same outline;
- Do not redistribute the model or the links to the model's download
- Do not directly link to the model download
- Do not edit without permission
- Do not hand out passwords related to models if the producer has passworded the model
- Do not use the model in a way that goes against the Basic MMD outlines
- Please give credit to the one who made the model
- The sale of models is forbidden without the producer's consent
Please also understand that a Japanese model producer may not be proficent in their English language skills, however a Japanese version will also be present on the page.
While the four basic MMD outlines are the guidelines of which all MMD works are produced by, overseas MMD users have trouble understanding the 4th issue as it is not recorded in the MMD software documentations, the first 3 of which are present in the MMD software outlines. In many cases, the 4th outline is subject to the terms and conditions of the MMD model producer's will.
Still this outline is confirmed by the US Copyright Office.
Question: When is my work protected?
While a model may be dressed up to resemble Gumi, which the model producer has no copyright over, the structure of the model used is very much under the ownership of the producer. Models dressed up to resemble characters fall under the classification of fanart and are therefore subject to the rules and regulations of fanart material. Models are handed out on the basis of the model being a 3D structure resembling or based on the character, they do not pass them around as the character itself or claim copyright over the character's image. They can legally seek out the studio and aquire special premission to produce a model in the image of the studio's mascot character. The producers must be able to quote the agreement they have with the studio upon distribution, acknowledge the studio's legal tender and then may release the model as per the legal documentation agreed upon. Only under these circumstances do they hold a license agreement, this model is regarded then as a model produced under the license of the studio.
While it is true the mascot may fall under copyright, the actual model itself, the structure, belongs to the producer who made it under the Berne Convention. The structure is often fitted for the producer's needs and tweak for each new model, or a new structure is created fresh for each model (sometimes the structure is also also called a "doll" or "doll base"). This base is the body of the model and is dressed up with features added on top of it to resemble characters. It is usually a universal model of a particular standard size that the producer finds most useful to work from. The same structure may end up being modified for use for hundreds of models produced by the same user, although the user may create a one off doll for use with certain models.
Not only do these conditions protect the model producers' work, by using the model under these conditions, users prevent themselves from accidentally using the model in a way that goes against the legal terms of the MMD software or the copyright held by the studio.
Producers own the mascot copyright of any character they invent, which is not held under copyright by another.
Despite most models complying with copyright laws, there have been clashes between different opinions of legal and moral ethics within the MMD community. In most cases, the model producers' conditions are reasonable and not too demanding. It may have taken hours of hard labor to get the model to a standard that was good enough for distribution in the first place so it acknowledges the amount of work that may have gone into that model. It is this particular aspect of a model that is often hard for users to understand. Many believe that a free distributed model is also free to further edit and redistribute and may not understand where the copyright of a model lies. It is not in the mascot it resembles, but in the body of the model.
In Japan, the majority of MMD users comply with the 4th rule, breakage of these terms are almost unheard of and a vast number of the MMD users overseas also comply with this as well. However, there have been some issues caused by a handful of overseas MMD users who have not complied with the rules. In many cases, this has upset the Japanese MMD model producers and conflict has occured between the will of the creator and the MMD user going against their rules for the model.
MMD owners in overseas fandoms freely commit "model trades" to acquire rare and sought after models trading one model for another. However, in the process they often trade away models which are forbidden to be passed around without the owners' consent. These models include paid-for models like ISAO's Nekomura Iroha Windows 100% model and is regarded as the most disrespectful act in the MMD Japanese fandom. Users are also not allowed to edit these models and redistribute these models as their own work, or not as the original owners' work.
Breaking the MMD models rules and regulations is a serious act of mistrust and this is becoming a common response:
NO further MMD model distributions MAY available.
Some users disobey the MMD model regulations and re-distributed the models against the original authors' requests. The original authors are the owner of copyright(s), however, the violator did not accept ANY request asking him/her to respect the regulations. Many MMD modelers ware greatly distressed to see the violence, and they are considering terminate further distribution.
In fact, the sufferer declared that she would NEVER distribute her models in public again.
The picture is clear. THIS IS THE RESULT OF CONTINUED VIOLATIONS.
Read and follow the regulations, please. We know we're good enough to do so :) "
--A warning from the MMD website "Witch☆craft", regarding a violation of terms of their models and the cease and decease of the distribution of their models
In some cases when an overseas MMD user breaks the guidelines of the MMD model producer, it is a result of the cultural divide or language barrier and they may not always understand what they are doing wrong or why. In most cases, however, it is becoming clear that general ignorance and failure to understand, or complete lack of consideration for the model copyright or the producer's ownership, that is fast becoming a problem. On top of this, a general lack of education and common misconceptions of ownage amongst rules breakers are increasing both as these cases arise and as more individuals use the software, particularlty on the spread of the incorrect information on who owns the copyright of any model. Those who break the rules and do not abide by the owners request to cease and decease may cause the owner to stop handing out their models freely. This has already occurred in several instances. Continued distribution of the model after the creator has pulled the model only further angers the model makers.
The software comes with a number of models by Animasa. Originally, only a Miku model was supplied. Later, new models have been added, including models of popular Vocaloid fanmades. These models are released for editing and general use for the MMD software and often serve as the base model for other models produced by users.
They are relatively low quality overall in comparison to the models often produced by independent model makers, but as they come with the software, they naturally may be updated as the software updates occur, to demonstrate the improvements implemented into the MMD software. Miku's model, for instance, was originally quite plain and simple. Users unsure of the restrictions of MMD models are advised to stick with the Animasa models, they are the safest models to work with. Use of these models is well documented and comply with the first 2 of the 4 basic MMD outlines, although fanmades made from these models no longer fall under the first two outlines and instead fall under the 3rd outlines.
- You are held responsible for your own actions and use of the MMD.
- Do respect the model makers rules and regulations, many models come with a readme.txt. If you are intending to use a model for any purpose other than producing videos, do get proper permission of use from the original owners of said model(s).
- If you have violated any rules, it would be appreciative of you take down your videos and remove any links of illegal/unappreciative activity. Attempt to start clean by apologizing and also try to create original works. Seek advice if necessary and implement remedial actions.
- If you do not know, are unsure of or do not understand any of the rules surrounding a model then by all means do not use it. Ask for explanation if applicable.
- When it comes to model distributions and concerns, take the time to look up what models can be edited as well as distributed. Helpful lists are provided by fellow MMD users.
- When trading models, check that all models involved are "safe" for trade and do not trade if they are not.
- Simply following the set of rules by an artist(s) will be enough to continue an open and respectable relationship within the vocaloid community.
- Do not be ashamed nor be afraid to ask if in doubt.
- If you see someone violating the rules, calmly tell them to take the illegal model and explain why. Please don't give death/ violent threats or taunt the person((s)) appearance/ personality if the person((s)) refuses to cooperate. If they refuse, email the video/ picture of the violation to the original creator. Please, threats and taunts are very childish, and it doesn't get anything done.
Article taken from Vocaloid Wiki's MikuMikuDance Article.