3D Digitisation of Cultural Heritage Copyright Implications of the Methods, Purposes and Collaboration

Author:Pinar Oruç
Position:PhD (QMUL), LLM (Cardiff), FHEA
3D Digitisation of Cultural Heritage
3D Digitisation of Cultural Heritage
Copyright Implications of the Methods, Purposes and
by Pınar Oruç*
© 2020 Pınar Oruç
Everybody may disseminate this ar ticle by electronic m eans and make it available for downloa d under the terms and
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Recommended citation: Pınar Oru ç, 3D Digitisation of Cultural Her itage: Copyright Implications of t he Methods, Purposes and
Collaboration, 11 (2020) JIPIT EC 149 para 1.
Keywords: copyright law; cultural heritage; laser scanning; photogrammetry; three dimensional; 3D; originality
cal copying or if there is any restoration or creative
contribution involved) and the collaboration of differ-
ent people (ranging from employees to volunteers).
This article will discuss the copyright implications of
the chosen method, purposes and the level of collab-
oration, in order to show that each of these factors
impact the category, originality and the authorship of
the resulting work. It will be argued that it is possi-
ble, and in some instances very likely, for 3D projects
to lead to protectable outcomes under the EU copy-
right law.
Abstract: 3D technology is increasingly used
in the digitisation of cultural heritage and while par-
ties engaging in such projects need copyright as an
incentive, the copyright status of such 3D models
are unclear. It is usually assumed they would not be
protected, as the scans of existing objects are less
likely to be original compared to the 3D models cre-
ated from scratch. However, it is often overlooked
that these projects vary greatly in terms of the cho-
sen method (whether it is laser scanning or photo-
grammetry), the project’s purpose (if it is for identi-
A. Introduction
Cultural heritage faces many challenges such as
armed conicts, targeted destruction, natural
disasters and natural aging. To reduce the risk of
such artefacts disappearing and to increase access,
custodians of cultural heritage regularly engage in
making reproductions of the movable heritage held
in collections and the immovable heritage held on-
site. It is not a new practice to make reproductions
of fragile art works or to invest in cast courts for
allowing visitors to experience works in distant areas.
Considering these past practices of reproduction,
embracing the 3D technology and implementing
digitisation strategies seem like the next logical
step. However, these 3D projects also come with the
question of how to control their outcomes, therefore
intellectual property law becomes directly relevant
for incentivising such costly undertakings and for
controlling the commercial exploitation of the
There is already a vast amount of scholarly
literature on the relationship between 3D printing
and intellectual property law: some aspects of the
3D printing can be protected by patent law if they
are registered and 3D printing can also infringingly
replicate patented inventions.1 There could be
potential trademark infringements, if the 3D printed
object incorporates existing 2D marks or replicates
another 3D shape mark.
There is also the overlap
* Pınar Oruç, PhD (QMUL), LLM (Cardiff), FHEA. Email address:
1 Simon Bradshaw, Adrian Bowyer and Patrick Haufe, ‘The
Intellectual Property Implications of Low-Cost 3D Printing’
(2010) 7 SCRIPTed 1, 26; Rosa Maria Ballardini, Marcus
Norrgård and Timo Minssen, ‘Enforcing Patents in the Era
of 3D Printing’ (2015) 10(11) JIPLP 850; Lucas S Osborn, 3D
Printing and Intellectual Property (Cambridge University Press
2019) 60-81.
2 Angela Daly, Socio-Legal Aspects of the 3D Printing Revolution

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