This week Dave gives us some background info on how legal bits and bobs might interfere with reproducing places or textures “accurately”. This is something which a number of the artists talked about when I was conducting my MSc research as being a big constraint to their work. As always if you have questions for Dave please don’t hesitate to ask here or via email / twitter. Also remember to check out his work over HERE to see some of the great discourse he has been giving here in practice! Ill hand over to Dave now to explain some more! Happy Reading. 



I’m not a lawyer so I’m not qualified in any way to give out any legal advice.

Just want to stress that this blog post in absolutely no way, shape or form does not contain any legal advice, nor should it be read as giving legal advice.

If you want legal advice on any thoughts I raise in this post, then consult a proper qualified lawyer!


Right, that bit is out of the way. Sorry, if I’m being a bit over cautious, but anything to do with legal terrifies me. I kind of know now what those new Star Wars actors feel like when they say they can’t comment on the film…..or else!

I do want to raise law as a potential concern for any company/organisation/individual considering releasing a game globally…especially real world locations/objects. In a nutshell, the law has the potential to affect the accuracy of your scan/model.

From my incredibly limited knowledge, the law varies based on the countries, regions, buildings, and objects involved. Law can be fluid, organically growing over  time, so maybe what worked for a colleague a year ago may not work for you today.

Now, depending on what you’re working on and what your lawyer says, you may have to alter the object in some way…this would satisfy the law but will of course compromise “accuracy”.

An example of this is graffiti. Now, if you’re at a location and capturing it via photogrammetry or scanning, you would argue that the object (let’s say a stone wall) is accurate on the day of capturing right?

Well you go back to your computer, start the process of cleaning up the scan data and creating a low poly mesh (I’ll cover this in another post). Suddenly you find someone has drawn graffiti on part of that wall…but that’s cool, it was there when you captured the wall so it’s all good…still  100% accurate!

This is the rub. I believe in some parts of the world (again check with a lawyer first) the graffiti artist technically owns copyright of their work. So if you went ahead, released your game with the original graffiti in place, then the graffiti artist could potentially sue you for copyright.

This is where your lawyer comes in. If he/she flags this, then you potentially would be required to:

Remove the graffiti from the model/texture digitally


You could replace it with one that YOU’VE done.


Track the graffiti artist down and get their permission (not easy)

There may be other options I haven’t thought of, but however you look at it, that model/texture is now no longer 100% accurate.

Okay, maybe from a heritage point of view, you’ll think it’s a good thing, removing the graffiti…you’re “digitally restoring the object”, but even still, you’ll never recreate what was behind the graffiti 100% accurately

 Now would it be right that if you have altered something to let your peers and the public know? Maybe record what you’ve done and why you’ve done it then attach to the metadata I talked about in the last blog post.

I do think this is the way to go as not only helps with public trust but provides information for future digital heritage makers and archaeologists. We’re effectively making the best of a sometimes difficult situation/compromise.

 So the moral of this story is not only to get a good lawyer and consult with them at every stage but once again to accept that you can’t be 100% accurate with the object every time. There will be compromises, if not with the law, then something else will spoil your digital utopia.