Someone (Ryukrieger) sent me a note about the ongoing controversy within the MMD community about the 'DO NOT EDIT' topic. The correspondent wanted to know what my views were and I thought about it and since it's been awhile since I've written an editorial article for MMD, I felt this was a subject matter worth discussing in more detail.
First off, I need to make it perfectly clear that I am usually a proponent of the 'DO NOT EDIT' rule. Most of my own work prohibits editing except for where special exceptions are made. My reasoning here is mainly because most of my work is original, are stages and in the final analysis, my thinking is that stages work like costume. Just find one that's suitable for your project and get on with it, don't be changing what I have put on offer. Still, I've seen bits and pieces of my stage components used in conjunction with other peoples' bits and pieces and in principle, I'm fine with this practice.
But the main 'hot area' with regards to the 'DO NOT EDIT' rule evolves around edits of existing character models. The main contention here falls into primarily two points of view:
1/. There are those that argue that model editors should not impose 'DO NOT EDIT' rules on work/models that are permissible to edit per the outlines of the original modeler.
2/. The other side of the argument is that an edit is a 'unique' work or interpretation and should be left alone 'as is'. If you don't like it or prefer some other change, then go do your own version.
My personal inclination is solidly inline with argument '2' above. The reason for this is that if I am going to download and use a model in the first place, the number one consideration is how the model (original or edit) looks in the first place. In other words, it is the ascetics of the work which is the prime consideration.
However, like probably everyone involved with MMD, I do have a certain number of models that I've purely collected because of the way they look, but I will never use for a variety of reasons. Some of these models are design-wise way out in left field or are too complex for ease of use, but they do make excellent collector's items and are just wonderful additions to a MMD model collection.
I'll like to add also that as regards the 'DO NOT EDIT' rule, if I am going to use a model on a regular basis, I will most likely edit the model's function but will respect the restriction in terms of not changing the way the model looks. And this makes sense. People do want to see their models used and no two (serious) users of models will do things the same way.
My contention is that the 'DO NOT EDIT' rule primarily governs the ascetics of the model rather than its functionality. People apply the rule, as I understand it, for three primary reasons:
1/. They really do not want people to modify the edit's ascetics.
2/. They really do not want people to make some minor modifications to the edit and then turn around and offer that version up as a model download.
3/. They really don't want people cribbing parts off the model. Most of these parts can usually be found in one of the library of parts that floats around the MMD group galleries or elsewhere in some repository somewhere on the Internet. Therefore, if you want the parts, go get it from the source. Also, some parts are original works which the editor wants to retain for exclusive use with the edited version. Even with original models, there are restrictions on parts similar to this. A good example is the hi-tech belt gear on Tda Append Miku which he does not allow to be used as a part on other models.
I feel that these are all valid reasons for imposing a 'DO NOT EDIT' restriction and legally they are within their right to do so where this does not conflict with the rights of the original modeler. And this is a tricky one which some people may have a hard time wrapping their heads around so let me explain it in a little more detail.
Let us start with an original model which permits editing. The default Animasa Miku model is a clear cut example as it has no restrictions on editing. So someone uses that model as the basis to create another model. In MMD terms that is an 'Edit'. So this person then offers their edit as a download to share with the community and then slaps a 'DO NOT EDIT' rule on the model.
Can they do this even though the original model was free to edit? The short answer is 'YES'. What the editor is saying is that you cannot edit the edit and this is perfectly legal.
The counter argument which is made by some is that since the original model was editable then the edit, at least in the spirit of sharing, should be editable too.
Nope, sorry I don't subscribe to this view at all. Just because the original is editable it doesn't automatically follow that a derivative should also be editable. The derivative work is an 'original interpretation' and if the editor wishes that the edit not be edited, they have every right morally and legally to impose the restriction. And if you follow the logic through it actually makes sense. Apart from anything else, why edit an edit, (except for functionality which doesn't change the ascetics at all)?
Most edits are made from existing parts. If someone wants a different version they can go through the same steps to recreate something similar. And this is perfectly permissible. Take my version of Chibi Gumi for example (fav.me/d5qqazt). It is based off Mamama's original model of Gumi Megpoid. YamiSweet made a version based off the same original as has at least two other people including Mamama himself if my memory serves me correctly. Each chibi model used as its basis, the same base model, but each one is slightly different from the other edits.
But you know what? On my version there is essentially a 'DO NOT EDIT' restriction (although I didn't actually use that term). The reason is simple enough. If you don't like my version, go ahead and make your own 'dang' version as seriously, it is not hard with a conversion of this type.
But I don't really do much in terms of editing models. Like I've said many times, it's not really my thing and besides which there are many excellent edits made by others who do superb work with this type of modeling. A prime example of one of these models that I've essentially adopted into my stable of regular characters is the Tda-style edit of Galaco by nomiiie. But guess what? That model (shown in the illustration heading this article) is covered by a 'DO NOT EDIT' rule which essentially I have fully respected. The only alterations I've made to my copy are purely functional but the edit's design and ascetics have remained unchanged. After all, I use the model because I like the way it looks, so why would I want to change its appearance?
In actual fact, there are three versions of that Galaco edit on my hard drive. The original release version that I have preserved for my records. The version I regularly use which has customized functionality (minor changes to the bone system) and a version which has had all of the skirt physics removed as in some applications the dress physics puts too much of a drain on my system resources. But all three versions look identical. Like I stated above, why would I change the way the model looks? After all, I use it because I like the way the model looks. If nomiiie has had issue with me changing the edit's functional aspects, she has yet to make her thoughts known to me. But herein, it is a fairly standard practice for modelers and editors to permit functional edits by users for private use.
Yes sometimes you will see this version of Galaco as used by me with a shiny dress material. That's done using MME effects and not through any editing. But the basic principle here is I have adhered in good faith to nomiiie's restriction on not editing the model's ascetics. Regardless of the effects that I may apply to the model, it is recognizable instantly as her interpretation of Galaco which I kept faithfully to. But what if I wanted her to have a pink dress for example? Well, first off, I would not edit the model in this manner without asking nomiiie first. And if she was agreeable fine, but if she is not, I would fully respect that too.
Does that make sense?
But revisiting the last point again, if she did state 'NO', I would have absolutely no issues with that because I respect the amount of work that she put into make her interpretation and if for some reason she was against the idea of creating a variation of this edit in a pink dress, I would fully respect that. But note especially that in the instance where I would want to edit a "DO NOT EDIT' model in a manner that changes the edit's appearance, I would at least have taken the step to ask for permission first and to accept and abide by whatever decision the modeler or editor decides.
Now the other side of the argument is that the original base for the Galaco model is by Tda and he permits editing of his original work within the guidelines as outlined in his readme.txt. Doesn't he need to be consulted in this equation? After all, if he permits editing, should this not pass on to subsequent edits of his original?
This is worth looking into to clarify the discussion going on here but to fully understand the process here let's look at Tda's original stipulations which I am replicating verbatim below:
Reminder: This summary English translation is for reference. Should any conflicts arise, the original Japanese Terms of Service shall take precedence over English Terms of Service.
For more details, refer to the original Japanese text.
Terms of Service and Disclaimer
The overall design of this 3DCG model is based on the character Hatsune Miku Append of Crypton Future Media Inc. This model is created under Piapro Character License.
- Use this model within the limit of Piapro Character License and this Terms of Service.
- You may not use this model if you don't agree to Piapro Character License and this Terms of Service.
- Tda shall not be responsible for any damage and loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with using this model.
- The latest version shall take precedence if this Terms of Service is revised.
- When using this model for commercial purposes, you shall obtain prior permission from Crypton Future Media Inc., the copyright holder of Hatsune Miku, and then contact Tda.
- Editing this model for your videos and pictures is allowed within the limit of the conditions below. You don't have to obtain prior permission from Tda.
1. Do not ruin the feature and image of Tda style. The edited model(s) shall be clearly recognized as Tda-styled model(s).
2. Remove the logo CRYPTON on the anklet, or replace it with the body00_MikuAp.tga file in the (Japanese Text) folder.
3. When distributing edited model(s), attach both the original Japanese Terms of Service and this English Terms of Service, credit the original name of this model Type Tda Hatsune Miku Append, the original creator Tda and editor(s).
1. Redistributing the unprocessed original model. Trading the original model is also forbidden.
2. Editing this model into naked or base model(s).
3. Removing any part(s) of this model, regardless of in the original form or edited form, and attaching it/them to other model(s) to create and/or edit the model(s) that is/are not Tda-styled. (e.g. attaching Tda Mikufs pigtail(s) and/or waist gear to other model(s).)
The only exception is the minimum edit for a video or a picture in which Tda Append Miku plays the main role, but distributing the edited model(s) under this exception is forbidden.
4. Removing any part(s) from non-editable model(s) and attaching it/them to this model.
Revised on May 30, 2013.
Please note especially the term below and keep this in mind:
- Editing this model for your videos and pictures is allowed within the limit of the conditions below. You don't have to obtain prior permission from Tda.
Also note that nomiiie's Tda style edit of Galaco is inline with the conditions outlined above (as I understand how it is written).
Now here are nomiiie's rules from her readme.txt also reproduced verbatim:
Galaco Ver. 1.2 by xNomChu (6/8/13)
Do not edit
Do not redistribute
Do not claim as your own
Artemis129, Jin, Amiamy111,
All parts are fully legal
Galaco belongs to Internet Co.
Model belongs to me
Note the 'DO NOT EDIT' rule especially. Note also that because she is not the original modeler, her rules cannot supersede some of the rules of the original copyright owner. In other words, wherein she can enforce her will with regards to changing her edit's appearance/ascetics, she cannot stop someone (like me) from editing the model's functionality as this was permissible under the original modeler's rules. Does this make sense? If not, please allow me to clarify:
1/. I cannot alter Galaco's appearance because this is nomiiie's work over which as applicable to this particular model she has full jurisdiction.
2/. I can alter Galaco's functionality as the basic foundation for those are inherently a characteristic of the base of the model which is still firmly within Tda's jurisdiction. Unless nomiiie completely re-rigged or re-did the model's core foundation (ie. weighting and bone system), Tda's original permissions still apply.
When you think about this whole 'DO NOT EDIT' argument, my opinion is that a lot of people have the view that the work of model editors are of less worth that the work of original modelers. This kind of thinking leads to the silly argument that since the original modeler permits editing, 'who the heck are you to restrict the editing of an edit'?
People really need to stop thinking like this.
Sure there are a lot of crappy edits to be found in the DA galleries, but by the same token, there are many REALLY GOOD ones. A small handful of these have found a niche in my own staple of characters and others are key components in my own collection or have been put on my 'to do something meaningful with at some point' list. Regardless of the quality of these works, they do represent considerable effort and creative energy expenditure by the editors responsible for their creation.
How is that the activities of dedicated model editors less than the efforts of the original modeler?
Good quality edits are as hard to come by as good quality original models, perhaps more so as there are some real technical hurdles involved in the process of adapting one model design into something else successfully. Model editors should not be regarded as merely the 'poorer cousin' in the overall equation. Without their active contributions, we would not have the wide range of models available and God only knows that we need more model choices for MMD, not less.
So if a model editor puts a simple 'DO NOT EDIT' rule on their work, why is it so difficult for some people to respect this? By what measure is their contribution less than that of the original modeler? Just look at the wide range of Tda-style or Lat-style models available. Tda made one model - Miku Append. Others, specifically model editors, have taken that single model as a basis to create a virtual universe of Miku variants and other character models based on the style. No matter how talented Tda is, he has got a life outside of MMD. If it was not for the contributions of model editors, both from Japan and elsewhere, there would not be the wide range of excellent Tda-style character and model choices that we all enjoy today.
My nomiiie Tda-style version of Galaco would not have been made possible except for the fact that a 'model editor' took the time out of her life to create her. Does this make her work any less important than the contribution made by Tda? I think not.
This is the whole key to this argument. People really need to think more about what model editors really bring to the MMD table. Honestly, I am sick to my teeth of arguments that models shouldn't be edited because they are 'frankensteining' something else or that edits are "second rate efforts by modeler wannabes". It takes a certain level of training, knowledge and skill (as well as, in general, some rather expensive software) to create original character models. At the same time it also takes a certain level of skill, knowledge and dedication to transform an original character model into something else.
The whole thing about MMD is that it is made possible by the contribution in terms of time, talent and effort by many different people. No one, not even the likes of Tda, is an island within this community. Yes, it can be argued that Tda (purely by way of example) is an 'important' contributor to the community. After all if it was not for his original work and the permissions that he has given to others to adapt his work that we have an entire range of Tda-style models to choose from and most are of excellent quality.
Now look at the other side of the argument. What happened to those original modelers who do not allow their work to be edited? I will not name any names here, but suffice to say, the modelers with the most restrictions on their work (or who have thrown the most 'sissy' fits when their work is edited) have essentially fallen off the mainstream of the MMD current.
By no means am I arguing for a free-for-all attitude when it comes to editing models. Original modelers and editors do have their rules. There isn't necessarily a common consensus either nor does there need to be. We just have to understand what each individual modeler's or editor's restrictions are with regards to their work, and if we value their work at all, the least we can do is to respect their restrictions. After all, they really are not asking for a lot are they?
On the other side of the coin, there are model editors who do allow their edits to be edited. Some like Xoriu openly encourages the practice with her works which is fine because she's coming from this argument from another angle. So by no means is the 'DO NOT EDIT' rule universal even amongst model editors themselves.
Personally, I am a little leary of this policy from a legal standpoint as this open ended editing policy can lead to legal mischief and misunderstanding of permissions. We do need to bear in mind that editing of original models is done by consent of the original modelers but also that there may be restrictions stated openly or merely implied that could lead to nasty situations between various parts of the MMD community. All you have to do is to look at Tda's readme.txt as shown above and the more astute reader would have noticed the addition of this line under prohibitions:
2. Editing this model into naked or base model(s).
Some people did take it upon themselves to create Tda-style bases which was against the original modeler's intent and expressed permissions. All you have to do is read point 3 more carefully to see that this is already implicit in his restrictions, but unfortunately some people do not seem to be able to understand the English version of the restrictions, nevermind about the Japanese. So Tda ended up having to amend his readme.txt and clarify his intent specifically for the less astute.
In any case, please let me spell it out in case anyone still doesn't understand the nature of Tda's permissions:
Specifically, he permits variations/edits of Tda Miku Append, including altering the model to represent other characters so long as the editor adheres to his conditions. He does not allow, and never did allow for the model to be used for parts. Creating a base model using the Tda Miku Append model as the foundation of the base model is in direct contravention of his permissions. So subsequently the base and any model edit using these bases are against his permissions and can be regarded legally as a breach of his copyrights.
Does that make sense?
This fundamental misunderstanding of his permission has lead to a series of conflicts between some segments of the Japanese MMDC and their Overseas compatriots. A rather unfortunate state of affairs which could have been avoided if people did fully understand how far they could go when editing his model. Clearly (or perhaps not so clearly) his original intent was to allow for variants to be made from the original, not for the model to be converted into what essentially was a general purpose part for other builds.
Now some people have actually used the original Tda Miku Append and re-edited it in a manner to make it possible to create other characters in a manner that would seem to be in direct contravention of what I just stated above. Classic examples being the Tda-styled Teto and Neru models. So how did they get away with it? Simple - they contacted Tda and got his special permission and active support for their projects. This goes back to something I keep harping on with regards to permissions. If in doubt, contact the original modeler and seek their expressed permissions. Honestly, MMD modelers are in general nice people. The worse that could happen is that they say "NO". More often, you may find that they will at the very least, listen to your reasonable requests or proposals.
It does sadden me to see the conflict between segments of the Japanese MMDC and the DA MMDC over the editing of the Tda Miku Append model. It is something that has hit negatively at least two well known members of the DA MMDC both of whom are amongst those few people who are on my DA friends list. However, I am not going to take sides in that controversy. Suffice to say, a lot of the misunderstanding could have been avoided if people took the time to fully understand the implicit intent and permissions as outlined in Tda's readme.txt. Granted, that it is not the easiest document to read and fully understand but one doesn't need to be a lawyer or even need to have a "full understanding of the Japanese language" to comprehend the exact nature of what is and is not permitted with the Tda Miku Append model.
There's nothing unusual here. Those of you who have been reading the detailed journals by Digitrevx on the process of creating his latest BRS model should have a clear understanding about the amount of real work that goes into the creation of an entirely original character model for MMD. I build stages and honestly, I can knock one out in about a day or two without breaking a sweat. But the effort he puts into creating his work requires real effort. This is no different for him or Tda or any of the other modelers who create original character models from scratch. So they have every right to impose restrictions on what they allow to be done in terms of editing of their work and we have the responsibility to understand and respect those restrictions.
By the same token, responsible model editors, both within the Japanese MMDC as well as here on DA, expend a lot of effort on their work. I've followed several of them through the progress of their projects and know how much real effort they actually needed to put into their work. Yes, in a sense their projects were easier but that does not diminish the amount of time, effort and dedication that they put in to creating something wonderful at the end of their efforts. Honestly, I don't have the time, patience or know-how to create character models from scratch. I also don't have the patience to mess with the PMD editor for hours creating edits, but I fully understand the amount of time and effort which both original modelers and model editors need to put in to their work. Yes, there are difference, but they do bring different but equally important skills to the MMD table and both parties, in my book, have their role in the MMD community as a whole.
So if an original modeler or model editor states in their documentation 'DO NOT EDIT', before you shoot off your mouth at them, just think for one moment about the amount of work and effort that they put into their work, original or variant, in order to add yet another resource into the common MMD pool. Honestly, they really are not asking for a lot. All they really want is just a little bit of respect for their efforts, and if you cannot respect that, well then may be you have a problem and not them?
Anyway, thanks for reading and as always the opinions expressed herein are purely mine and are worth exactly 2 cents.
Afterwords: Please do not post comments asking me to interpret the permissions as outlined by other modelers and editors. I am a spokesman for nobody. If you need clarifications on permissions, please contact directly the parties concerned. In this day and age, with easy access to applications like Google Translate, even the language barrier should be no hurdle. And if in doubt, don't guess - seek clarification.