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There is this 3D repository site and marketplace. The site is quite popular, but I won't mention it. I have raised problems with their site in that their users are making available for download 3D models that they don't have the license to. Most of these illegally uploaded models made available for download, as far as I can tell, are being made available only for personal use. However people need permission and a license just to display the 3D assets belonging to someone else. There are users who are ripping large amounts of content from commercial games and making it available for download.

I've already complained to other sites that they have users who are selling commercial assets from games, and have been doing so for a long time, and haven't so much as lifted a finger to ensure that their users aren't violating copyright licenses. Edit: To be clear, some sites have banned the user, but others have just removed the items.

Anyway, I have two questions. With this particular site, there are about three users that I'm aware right now (though doubtless there are many more) that need to be reported. However I've lost patience with continuing to send emails telling them their users are violating copyright laws (which they probably know already). Or, alternatively, should I contact the publishers of the games who own the property/game assets/models? Contacting all the publishers (the copyright holders) will be tedious for me, is there another way?

Also my second question is, can such a website, one of these marketplaces, or so-called repositories, that make models available both free and paid, be held liable for damages/compensation because of the negligence of not ensuring that the content uploaded onto their website is made available illegally? This particular site has had users upload models from commercial games since 2013, meaning they've been up for about 6 years.

Thank you. I don't really know what to do. And it isn't my responsibility either, but I know that there are a lot of people, both naive and worldly, who are either downloading these models and using them commercially, or even worse, paying for them and using them commercially, in which case they may be in for a nasty surprise down the track.

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Or, alternatively, should I contact the publishers of the games who own the property/game assets/models? Contacting all the publishers (the copyright holders) will be tedious for me, is there another way?

You have to contact the copyright holder.

The publishers have to file a DMCA notice with the site to have the materials removed. Only the copyright holder, or their designated agents, can do that. The law deliberately does not authorize anyone else to act. The theory behind this is that much copyrighted material is either trivial, or at least not terribly valuable, because everything is copyrighted automatically under the Berne Convention. The rightsholder is the person in the proper position to make a decision about which infringements are worth pursuing and which are not.

Also my second question is, can such a website, one of these marketplaces, or so-called repositories, that make models available both free and paid, be held liable for damages/compensation because of the negligence of not ensuring that the content uploaded onto their website is made available illegally? This particular site has had users upload models from commercial games since 2013, meaning they've been up for about 6 years.

In the US: Maybe, but probably not.

Providers who are aware of specific infringing works can be held liable for those works, but more vague arguments of the form "they knew that a lot of users were uploading a lot of pirated content in general" have generally been less accepted by courts following Viacom v. YouTube in 2010. See also Capitol Records v. Vimeo for a slightly more recent case.

On the other hand, if the infringements really are blatantly obvious, and the site's employees can be shown to have specifically reviewed the individual items you are concerned about, and were specifically looking for copyright infringing material, that could give rise to liability. It's quite a long shot, however, because the burden of proof is almost entirely on the plaintiff to prove facts about the subjective knowledge and beliefs of the defendant. Much like the actual malice standard, this is very hard to do.

In Europe: Nobody really knows yet.

The EU has directed its member states to impose more stringent liability on websites that host user-generated content, and to mandate some sort of automatic filtering of "specific works identified by rightsholders." Until the EU's member states have implemented this directive with national legislation, we really don't know what the legal standards for that will look like, so it's hard to say if this directive will create liability for the website you describe.

  • I see. Yes, I'm pretty sure the copyright holder is the publisher, with respect to large commercial video games it pretty much always is. Thank you for the information. So that leaves me to contact each copyright holder. Alternatively I can send them another complaint mentioning the users that are violating copyright, and they will probably take it down. They have already removed al items from one user because of a notice I sent them. Also, it's not easy to ascertain two 3D models as being the same, or a derivative of another. In this case it's often written that the model comes from a game. – Zebrafish Jun 3 at 3:02

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