May I ask a question? It's going to sound confrontational, but I don't mean it that way, I only want to hear your opinions: How do you feel about the legal issues of this method? Say someone uses a background created this way in a comic book that they then sell online ... should they credit the free 3D resource maker and the various programs that they used? Should they share a portion of the profits, if any of those people ask? And say a film producer wanted to adapt the comic ... and the film did very well, once again giving those others possible claims to some of those much larger profits. After all, without the backgrounds the comic might not have attracted the producer's attention. Later on, can the comic creator really claim that all the art is theirs? The story, sure, but the art? Who owns the art that is created?
Now I'm not saying that a method like this shouldn't be used or taught, I'm all for a culture of free where people create art and then share it with everyone and no one has to worry about the legal issues I bring up ... but that world doesn't exist yet. Artists need money to live, and the best situation right now is for them to be paid for creating their art. That's the worry I have for using free 3D resources when creating backgrounds to be used in art. Do you agree that this is an issue? If not, how does your opinion differ?
Okay, that does sound good on the legal side, it's good that someone who uses free 3D sets to create the backgrounds for something shouldn't have to worry about people wanting something for that use. It remains possible that someone would upload a 3D environment and then complain later if it got used in say a major motion picture, but if they gave up their rights to it then I suppose there's no harm except one angry person.
As for the ethical side, you seem to be saying it is better than any alternative for artists as a whole to have free access to countless digital resources ... I like that argument, but do you ever doubt it? What are the downsides? Do you think it would be possible for a site like that to reward its model creators for their work, like how YouTube will pay you if views of a video go high enough?
I understand the super market / soup kitchen analogy, although technically I think a pay-for-models site would be more like a co-op, but consider the place of a site like YouTube. It doesn't fit, not since they started paying their star video makers a share of the ad profits and still kept it all free for the video watchers. That would be like donating a lot of food to the soup kitchen and then getting a check in the mail as thanks for the donation ... although donating to a soup kitchen for a tax write-off is sort of a payment. Do you think it would be better if a site like this 3D Warehouse paid its star model makers a share of Google's ad revenue, perhaps anyone whose models had more than a thousand downloads or something? Not because artists need payment to create, I don't believe that, but simply on the argument that any effort deserves a chance to be rewarding, determined by the net value later on of that effort.
Here's another way to look at it. Do you know about the remixing debate in music? A DJ mixing bits of several tracks by other artists together to make their own unique track is sort of like using 3D models to create the backgrounds of a comic. Some people say that it's wrong to use anything from another artist without paying for it, while others say that remixing is exactly how creativity and art work. I am pro-remixing, but I also think that whoever created the snippets that were used deserves at least a mention and a thank you. Effort deserves reward if the effort had value.