Contributing to update of VRML librarys to STEP?


Good question, someone should ask Sparkfun what they think.

However, I am fairly sure under Copyright law that a 3D model of a utility object is not a copyrightable thing. In general, copyright applies to creative or artistic works, and “utility articles” are specifically exempted. For example, this is why it is difficult to get copyright protection for clothing or costumes, even if they have a creative element, in whole clothing is considered a useful article.

Actually, it is also arguable whether an image of a switch is copyrightable, since there is so little creative element, which would make the CC license inapplicable.

Unfortunately, in all cases of infringement, a court must decide on issues of creativity, there is no blanket rule pre-applied (ie. there is no law saying pictures of switches for retail purposes are not copyrightable, or that pictures of dragons are copyrightable).

I’m also fairly sure that if someone thinks they are threatened by competition, they will create a claim under copyright, trademark, trade secret, even if it is totally bogus but have a large legal budget. DMCA makes it fairly easy for people to issue takedowns to make life awkward, there is a right of reply but still going through the paperwork is tedious.

I was only able to find one case relating specifically to copyright of 3D engineering data, where the object was not an artistic one. Michael Weinberg is an expert on this stuff, he wrote an article on the CanadaDrones suit Weinberg concludes that the suit was probably not likely to succeed, but was settled out of court, so we don’t have a court opinion.


so go ahead against 3dcontent central, tracepartsonline and grabcad etc… :smiley:
Just a quick search would have pointed to

Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution.

original work is enough to cover what we are talking about…
Moreover copyright is strongly dependent of countries and jurisdictions…
In case of a so widely diffuse sw as kicad is, I would not allow to be in the library any 3D model which has not stated clearly a correct license of use.


Yes, that is the naive view, and pretty much 100% wrong, it’s a whole lot more complicated than that. “Original work” has a very specific meaning in law, and is not the simple meaning enjoyed by lay people. It DOES NOT mean, “anything you might create”.

Did you even read the article I linked?

The important point here is not what we might want to “acquire” from other people. The real important point is that if we contribute our models to a 3D model repo which has a copyright based license such as GPL, that license very probably has no legal meaning. So if our work gets “ripped” off, then we have no leg to stand on. It is very misleading to let people think their model has any GPL protection.

There is no copyright law that covers a functional object I am pretty sure that is true in every jurisdiction, copyright law is fairly well aligned internationally. There are jurisdictions where you get less protection from copyright. Even if a work is subject to copyright, statutory exemptions such as “fair use” may apply.

If you contribute a 3D model of a functional object to a public repository, DO NOT expect it to be covered by GPL, CC or any copyright license

Every lawyer will tell you exactly the same thing, everything else is just popular folklore from people who do not understand copyright law, and have never studied it. And trust me, you won’t get a good understanding by a quick glance at Wikipedia.


you can bold all your post text, but the final point is that nobody wants to have a legal dispute for what can be avoid with the right premises
Anyway if you want to start a legal dispute with the public repositories that I suggested above, you are very welcome to enjoy your time

I don’t


You are not arguing in good faith, I never suggested anything like that.

You are welcome to enjoy your ignorance, but there is no point discussing further.

I guess you are still upset with the criticism I made of your 3D tools? I see you love using bold text there :slight_smile:

[edited by Joan]


The most recent discussion regarding potential IP issues is a very big argument for parametric derived models. At least for the most used packages, non-series/discreet parts should be treated separately.

One of the first questions I ask on starting an engineering project is what standards are we designing to? Electronics is currently a hobby for me so I am not familiar with the various standards bodys for electronic component design. But a quick search indicates that JEDEC has open standards for many component packages.

By using parametric models (of which a large number appear to already been generated/setup) where it is easy to compare a table of the driving dimensions against a table from a referenced design standard, you can quickly make the check for compliance and at the same time the person who developed the parametric model is able to transfer whatever rights are deemed necessary for the parts to be incorporated into the library.

This should cover a large portion of the standard component parts, and minimise the time required to incorporate into the library. The remaining unique/discreet components will need dealing with on a case by case basis. If you can convince suppliers to engage/sponsor with the project and supply models and foot prints then all the better.

These models are/should only ever be used for geometric/visual purposes. If people are running thermal and other simulations then they will be building functionally accurate models for their chosen simulation software.


First: I dislike your way of talking in a public forum
Second: regarding the criticism you made on my tools, I thought it was you that were disappointed not to be able to use a set of tools that thousand of people are using easily

and referring to ignorance, I will let you enjoy yours


I’m talking for my 3D MCAD models…
I used manufacturer’s data sheet as reference … for example

in the README you can find the reference documents

For all my libraries you will find the manufacturer reference document, with dimensions and tolerances

It may depend a lot on which deep is your simulation…
probably you will need a more specific model to adhere exactly the manufacturer you have chosen with thermal coefficients and more data…


I think manufacturers data sheets are reasonable basis for series parts (parametric) provided that they have data for the whole of the series. Otherwise if there is a source of for series parts that can be built from a dimension table of the variants then it becomes much quicker to check and in theory to get them incorporated into any library, because there is a single reference to check against.

Yes that’s my point, that the models included should only be used for geometric and visual purposes, so slight variation between manufacturers (for a common package) is irrelevant in this context.


Hi @bobc, I read the article you pointed.

From what I understand from the article, the main point is that what you physically create by using the information from a 3D model file, the physical creation is not subject to be copyrighted (it can be however patented… by some other meanings…etc)
I extracted two main parts I found here interesting for discussion:

Unlike a functional object, a file is just code. And code is generally protectable by copyright. That means the even if the object is not protectable by copyright, the file may well be.

it may very well be that while code is generally protectable by copyright, the code that simply represents an object is not protectable by copyright.

From MY interpretation of the second quote, I don’t think it will be applied on this cases (but I may understand on each cases it can be applied… just can’t get with an example… )

But so, it still looks OK (to me) to license somehow the files (generally the copy / share of the files)
Do you have any suggestion / examples for this kind of license?

Related with this discussion, the diptrace software provides tons of STEP files:
it would be nice to know/understand what kind of license they are sharing the files. (they provide auto-extract.exe files so I couldn’t extract it on linux)


Any data, file, contents, information and software provided by this website only for the purpose of using DipTrace. No other purpose permitted.

there is the Mac version of 3D libraries which is zipped


if you are looking for more models, there are quite a lot of parametric models @ FreeCAD library repo

particularly for electronics

The models are licensed as stated in the README


All Parts in this repository are licensed under CC-BY 3.0
Each Part is copyrighted by and should be attributed to its respective author(s).
See commit details to find the authors of each Part.

If you are uploading parts to this repository, please make sure you are the author of the model,
or otherwise that you have right to share it here under the CC-BY 3.0 license, and make sure the author
is mentioned in the commit message.

As I already mentioned I don’t think this kind of license is fine for kicad library, but I think something like gEDA exception could be managed contacting directly FC people… many of them are also present on this forum :smiley:
Anyway this is only my opinion, others may disagree, but consider that my opinion is aligned to what Wayne said few time ago
and it is also aligned to FSF lawyers thinking…
so in case I’m wrong, at least I’m in good company :smiley:

License for project made with Kicad

Kemet have a huge selection of detailed models - their entire range it would seem at No registration required and I can find no specific licensing restrictions on their use.

They all need scaling and aligning though.


they should be under this license…


The information in this website belongs exclusively to KEMET Electronics Corporation (“KEMET”). Copyright in the material contained in this website belongs to KEMET. The contents of this website provided free of charge are provided under a nonexclusive, non-transferable license for printing and use only by the individual who signed onto this service, and only for that individual’s personal, non-commercial use. Any other uses of any of the information from this site require additional permission from KEMET.

anyway plenty of really nice models there :slight_smile:


Sorry, but where do you download the models? I couldn’t find any download link. I just see some nice pictures…


You click on them till you get to the series of whatever you selected…


So, nice for someone who does go through the motions and does need the model for whatever reason, unusable for an entity like KiCAD.


Go to

Either type a model number in the box e.g. T490A157M004AHE800 and choose 'Expand Details" or click through the ranges e.g. Tantalum > SMD Chip > Consumer. until you find the desired product and the .step link should be obvious. (More obvious than the Kemet licence at any rate! :))

Now I checked, I don’t think there are models for every Kemet device but it is a pretty comprehensive archive.

I would be interested in what Kemet (or other vendors) would actually say if asked (officially) about ‘additional permission’. Its a bit of a minefield though - perhaps I should retrain for a lucrative career as a IP lawyer :slight_smile:


They need scaling and rotating and a lot of checking and fiddling with - especially to ensure they are dimensionally accurate which is the main reason for using them. They look nice though.


If we play a bit more with the materials and add specularity values to them we surely can do the same.
Actually, I think @kammutierspule 's material efforts where already pretty good in the regard.

This is a povray render from the STEP model right out of Inventor, nothing fancy really…

@maui by now should manage to do the same for the parametric models he can churn out of FreeCAD :wink:


That looks very good indeed. I will have further play with the latest models.