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There are some sites that sell 3D assets and textures, and generally other things that can be used in video games or 3D rendering. Some of these sites are Turbosquid, CGTrader, Sketchfab etc. I'm just wondering under what circumstances a video game developer who releases a title would be required to provide evidence of a license for a 3D game asset/model or anything else. In my mind it doesn't make much sense for anyone to have a right to demand the production of proof that a resource in a production (in whatever art form) is used correctly within a certain context. Wouldn't that be like me approaching Warner Bros and telling them that an ambient sound effect in the background of one of their films sounds suspiciously like one that I recorded, and that they need to provide proof of acquiring it legitimately or that its used under an appropriate license? Of course intuition personal intuition is often wrong, and it's likely that there is such a right.

In what circumstances does anybody have to demand or request proof?

The Sketchfab site license details page refer to an audit process that the licensee (the buyer of a model) is required to comply with:

"In addition, upon reasonable notice, Licensor or Sketchfab may, at their discretion, through their own employees or through a third party, audit Licensee's records directly related to this Agreement and use of Licensed Material or Licensee Work in order to verify compliance with the terms of this Agreement. If any such audit reveals any noncompliance with this Agreement, in addition to all other available remedies, Licensee shall reimburse Sketchfab or Licensor for the costs of conducting such audit."

I'm assuming someone like Sketchfab has the right to do this because it's included under the license agreement that you agree to before purchasing a model on their site?

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Yes, a licensee of Sketchfab is only required to cooperate with this audit process because it was agreed to in a contract. Copyright law does not (in the US, or anywhere else that I know of) give a content creator such a right to demand proof that something is being used in accord with a license.

If a content creator or copyright holder thinks that some content is being used without permission, or is an unauthorized derivative work, the holder has only a few possible courses of action. The holder can send a cease and desist letter. This has no legal force, but puts the alleged infringer on notice, makes further infringement clearly "knowing", and may well cause an infringer to stop infringing for fear of an expensive suit.

The holder can send a takedown notice if the content is online in a venue that accepts such notices. But there is not a legal obligation to honor such a notice, and a counter-notice may lead to the content being put back up.

Finally the holder may sue for copyright infringement. This has significant upfront costs, and requires significant time from the holder or the holder's business. The holder may therefore be unwilling to bring suit unless significant recovery seems likely. Once suit is brought, the holder will have discovery rights to demand answers to relevant questions from the alleged infringer, including the source of the content in question.

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    The C&D has legal weight in Minnesota, if it satisfies Hip Pocket Service.
    – Trish
    Oct 21, 2021 at 23:13
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    @Trish It can't. The only US law which can force an alleged infringer to stop is 17 USC, the copyright act, which specifically preempts all state laws with a similar purpose, and requires all infringement suits to be federal, so state procedures are irrelevant. Under what law do you think a C&D for copyri8ght infringement is binding in Minnesota? Oct 21, 2021 at 23:27
  • If the C&D contains a lawsuit for violating the purchasing contract
    – Trish
    Oct 21, 2021 at 23:31

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