Are 3d scans both sculpture and photography?
4 attorney answers
Generally: This is debated and there is legal commentary that claims no right as well as actual rights, depending on the nature of the protection and the specifics of how the work is made. Using an initial scan to make a creative work thereafter may be a different situation than a scan alone. Copyright protection often turns on the underlying policy of creative expression. You have the right approach to try to seek protection under different theories. You may need to actually attempt the applications -- preferably attorney-assisted -- to seek to obtain appropriate copyright registration.
Retain counsel to help you research and analyze the matter specific to your case.
It is sculpture supported by 2D photos. You are not in this context protecting the photos, which are merely just facsimiles of the 3D product anyway and will not presumably possess any creative expression, the subject of copyright law, in their own right.
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That doesn't seem likely. In the Copyright Office, for a sculpture, your "deposit" would be "identifying material" comprising two dimensional photographs, because there is no other way to show the sculpture (no provision for things like the "models" the Patent Office required a century ago). The Compendium says "photographs submitted in lieu of three-dimensional works of visual arts" so it is reasonable to conclude they are mutually exclusive. You could retain a lawyer to do more complete research if you need to know. Depending on why you ask, there could be some copyrightability issues -- if something is entirely computer generated, there might not be adequate human "Authorship". That's definitely the case for something like WYSIWYG code. Scanning might be the same. It's different than chipping away at marble.
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It won't surprise you to know that technology is always ahead of the law. As far as I know, anything 3D is considered sculpture, and that's how it would be registered for a copyright.
See your own IP lawyer to discuss all the details.
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