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(Hypothetical) - What would you do with source files from a paid project that got scrapped?

Let's say that you were working on a paid project roughly 12 hours a week, for almost a year total, for a startup company named [REDACTED]. A year of modeling, animating, texturing and a bit of coding goes by, while [REDACTED] posts images of the product in development to stir up hype in a corner of the flight sim community. However, due to poor planning, communication, and overall lack of organization/dedication, [REDACTED] decides to halt the project and then cancel it soon after. Your work now sits in a digital attic, accumulating digital dust and being buried in useless digital Christmas gifts that nobody wants.

What would you do with your source files, assuming that you don't have access to the other team members' files to complete the project? Sell them to another flight sim company? Or try to sell the 3D assets on a site like Turbosquid or CG Trader?
 

hairyspin

Resource contributor
You tread very carefully. Maybe some paperwork has been signed saying whose property the project hypothetically was - that would have to be read very carefully. Suppose there's an opening on a different project with another development group: are they going to give you a job if they think you're not trustworthy with project assets?

All hypothetical of course. If I was in that position I'd be really careful. As well as hacked off...
 

Ronald

Resource contributor
Maybe some paperwork has been signed saying whose property the project hypothetically was - that would have to be read very carefully.
re they going to give you a job if they think you're not trustworthy with project assets?
Exactly. I first would inspect all 360 legal aspects about who - intellectually-property-rights-wise owns this work:
- Is it owned by the [REDACTED] company /organization?
- Is it owned by you alone, as being the creator of your own work?

.... assuming that you don't have access to the other team members' files to complete the project?...
If there are no legal / intellectual-property-rights-hurdles to take anymore, I would try to find and contact the other members of this project
Then I would discuss with them:
- what they think of this entire shutting down thing?
- how they continue with their work?
- continue to work on this project together, to get it finish and find a way to bring it to your audience

Sell them to another flight sim company? Or try to sell the 3D assets on a site like Turbosquid or CG Trader?
If there are no legal / intellectual-property-rights-hurdles to take anymore and you are the legal owner of your own creations, why not?
I personally would find it a waste of my valuable time and energy if my hard work was not going to lead to any end-result.
 

=rk=

Resource contributor
You tread very carefully. Maybe some paperwork has been signed saying whose property the project hypothetically was - that would have to be read very carefully.
All contractual agreements clearly define roles and responsibilities which, unfulfilled, void any obligation by the other party.

On one occasion I made airports for a guy that had large areas of what he called "photoreal" scenery. Immediately after negotiating payment, he locked me out of his server and access to the work I had stored there. I immediately uploaded every airport to Avsim as freeware.

More recently I was in a similar situation to yours, with a company in the Middle East. They were doing a "proof-of-concept," or "simulator prospectus" of some desert islands they wanted to terraform and decided to present the idea using P3D. It was an awesome opportunity to learn about the country, the culture and how they do business - and for the last one, I use awesome in the way you'd describe a thunderstorm, or a very close fly-by. 'Awesome, now I have to go change my pants.' We had NDA and contracts and all that - and through it all I knew their best chance of enforcement was to polish those scimitars, load everyone in the Lear and come to my house to hash it over, which they were perfectly capable of doing.
I was to be paid in installments as various stages were completed. The first stage was a rousing success from my perspective and when it came time for the next installment, payment was not forthcoming. They hemmed and hawed, "the sheik is vacationing in Dubai," etc. I was having none of it; no money no production, plus I will release the unpaid work to the community, I told them. Finally I threatened to take them to the State Department. To be honest I didn't even know what that entailed. I most assuredly would have pursued it, but within an hour or two of that Skype message, I had a Paypal notification. The weirdest part to me, was that the next day, it was business as usual. This went on for two cycles and I finally decided that this is how they negotiate. Crazy huh? Since I was indeed paid the agreed amount, I have honored our agreements. It's too bad because I made what I thought was some really cool stuff 99.9% of the world will never see.

Had I not been paid, as what appears to be the case in your situation, those agreements would have been null and void. In fact, I would have had a duty and resolve to recover on my investment, as I suggest you do. I would like to see you form your own team, recruit if necessary and get something back out of your investment. However if you compensation included installments, you probably only own what was not paid for.
 
Maybe some paperwork has been signed saying whose property the project hypothetically was - that would have to be read very carefully.
In this hypothetical situation, there is no paperwork involved. Zero, none. I only call them [REDACTED] out of decency and also because the company doesn't exist anymore, so their name is irrelevant anyway. My naive self used to think that not being bound to these people would benefit me in the event that something like this happened, but I quickly learned that it actually strips any legal leverage that I might have.

Ronald - The only assets I'm in possession of are my own work. I do have a compiled MDL from another member who I don't know the name of, and who frankly decided to put his work on the 3D market (however I don't have any way of knowing if people are actually buying it.) That's why I'm wary of going this route.

I will try one last time to contact the former "leader" of [REDACTED] and see if he can hook me up with the other team members. I've talked about this situation on a few occasions with my current team, however I don't think it's within our timeline, and the lack of other source files besides a visual model makes it hard for others to just hop on board and finish production.
 
Did you at least get paid?
Nope...If that were the case then I really couldn't care less about whether or not the product actually made it to market. I was promised quite a large sum of money shortly before the team disbanded, and they weren't heard from again. It's just...ugh...all that time and energy wasted.
 

Dutcheeseblend

Resource contributor
Well, I'd say if they didn't pay, they don't own the models. So they're still yours. But well, that's probably too straightforward.
 
If you werent paid for your work, and you were to be paid, then the deal was not consumated. Dutcheeseblend has a very valid point. You could pose this understanding to the group or head person and give them your plan of action so they know. That gives them a chance to get your funds together, or to just verify with them your intentions.

Sorry it didnt happen. I know what thats like. I have done a deal before where 'I give you this, you pay me 'this'. When I give you 'all' of it, then you pay me all of it. They put me on a waiting list for payment. That was very upsetting. But I finally got paid. Their credit is burned, I learned a lot about them when this happened. Live and learn...
 

Heretic

Resource contributor
Nope...If that were the case then I really couldn't care less about whether or not the product actually made it to market. I was promised quite a large sum of money shortly before the team disbanded, and they weren't heard from again. It's just...ugh...all that time and energy wasted.
Take the model to another team then. No contract and no money means no copyrights. Period.
 
Take the model to another team then. No contract and no money means no copyrights. Period.
That's what I will try to do then, provided that I don't get a response within the next few days. Perhaps my current team has connections to someone else who may want it.

Thanks for all of your suggestions.
 
That's the thing about working on a team. Especially one where multiple people are doing the modeling. The compiled model is pretty much worthless to you alone as it contains other peoples IP. Anything you have that is totally done from scratch exclusively by you is yours to do with as you see fit. Try to look at it as experience gained honing the skill sets you were using, and how not to work in a team environment. Personally I would never get involved with a start-up company unless I was the one starting it up. This would be why.

Good Luck!
 

=rk=

Resource contributor
Seems odd to hide the identity of the company involved. It just sets others up to experience the same rip-off.
You would want to understand that reputation is tantamount. The OP did not start the post to be a whistle blower, he wanted advice from similarly oriented individuals. Pretty sure that if he can't find them, you can't either - and if they've rebranded themselves, what good is it going to do to call out the old name?
Let me give you a good example. There is an outfit that got a lot of heat a few years back, while Tom Allensworth was still alive. They sold AI models and offered free liveries, people stated that some of the models could be convincingly demonstrated to have been created by other artists as freeware. Tom created a special forum category called, I believe, "Wall of Shame" and this group was featured quite prominently within. Some time later I was compelled to edit models purchased by my employer on Turbosquid that were sold by this same company. I would have preferred to not have given them the business, but we needed airport specific vehicles and I could not model these at the same value for which they sold, I think the average was about $40 US. This company is still in business and the Wall of Shame is all but nonexistent, with no entries. Here is the only link I could find that related to the situation. At this point, four short years later, it's almost as if it never happened. http://www.world-of-ai.com/forum/index.php?topic=10035.0

EDIT: Apologies to the OP for implying to presume to know his intentions. I should have prefaced the statement that this was the case in my interpretation.
 
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jtanabodee

Resource contributor
That is too bad.
I think I don't like this situation where you cannot contact anyone and you are bounded with their legal stuffs.
I was offer to do a scenery and they would provide satellite photos and other pictures of the airport. They held copyright of the satellite photos and the pictures that I used to make textures. The contract said they would hold all the textures and models that I have done and I get paid. It is quite difficult if they quit the project. I thought what I would do which was left on. So I didn't take that one.

I feel happy that I didn't do that project.
Even the project is huge such as ZBAA, I still do that alone. Happier to do without any contracts or teams.
 
If I were ever to do another paid project (mind, I only ever did one to completion for MSFS and a couple for MSTS), it would be on a "license-only" condition. The idea being that I would create content that I own the rights to, and can do whatever I want with, and, for a flat fee, I'll grant you a perpetual license to do whatever you want to the source files that I will provide, and release as you wish, with whatever changes you feel add value when compared to whatever else I might do with it (which is basically the blanket "I can be bribed" statement I made when I released all my source files all that time ago). I get a little spending money and retain my ability to do what I want, you get your content and the ability to manipulate it to your heart's content, derive new works from it, whatever, who cares.

Would that turn most commercial developers off? Yeah - but I really don't have to please anyone but me, and I'm perfectly happy not getting paid at all. I think that, in general, an artist should maintain as much control over their output as possible. This approach may not be realistic for everyone, of course, as I know of at least a few people who derive a living from commercial flight simulation development.
 
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