WoW copyright

OK, pondering... I wonder if there is case law :-)

It is, as I understand it, well established copyright law (at least in UK) that a photograph of a sculpture is not a breach of copyright in the sculpture. The photograph itself is a new copyright for the photographer, but the sculpture copyright is not breached in any way.

Recently someone referred me to Big Blue Dress on youtube. The lyrics are funny, especially if you are a level 80 mage like me... And the graphics are actually really well done. I am impressed. Getting three gnomes to dance in sync can't be easy.

Then I wondered. The video. Who's copyright? The world of warcraft is a three dimensional computer model. It is a virtual sculpture. So a two dimensional still or video is like a photograph of a sculpture, surely? The art and creativity in composing the camera shots and the characters to make that video took skill. Do Blizzard own any copyright in the 2D rendering of their 3D designs?

Just pondering...


  1. They don't seem to mind at all as far as I can tell as long as you don't try to sell your creations. There is stuff about it on blizzards website here - http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/community/machinima/letter.html

    What is more interesting perhaps is this http://vimeo.com/5241163 where someone _extracted_ the data for the 3d models from WoW and imported them into a 3d modelling program to make an original animation.

    I consider this an astounding piece of work for an individual not connected with blizzard to have done this, partly due to the technical difficulties in doing it but mostly for the sheer quality of the animation in it. Every time I watch it I'm astounded by how talented the author is.

  2. I know that Wikipedia base their decision on whether a photo of a sculpture breaches the copyright of that sculpture on US law, whereas, as you say, UK law allows it (http://bit.ly/ceJtag).

    I would imagine that YouTube would also work under US law but I think in the end it comes down to a claim of fair use.

  3. Indeed, US copyright law has "fair use" which is another way of looking at it. It just struck me as a classic case of the rules on the physical world being potentially applicable to the virtual world.


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