3D content platform Sketchfab made an announcement this week which will see high-quality 3D scans and models of cultural artefacts become more accessible through its platform. In short, cultural organizations using Sketchfab now have the ability to dedicate their 3D models to the Public Domain using a Creative Commons Public Domain identifier (CC0). As part of the announcement, Sketchfab has also unveiled collaborations with 27 cultural institutions from across the world, including the Smithsonian Institution.
The goal of the new CC0 dedication feature it to promote accessibility between cultural organizations and their data and the public. Sketchfab’s new function also makes it easier for 3D creators to download, re-use and re-mix 3D scans of artefacts, historical objects and more.
The decision by Sketchfab is in line with a relatively recent mandate held by several major cultural institutions to make their collections more accessible using digital technologies. 3D scanning and 3D printing have figured into this shift in a significant way, as they enable realistic digital and physical replicas to be created and shared.
As mentioned, Sketchfab has already welcomed 27 cultural organization from 13 countries to its CC0 platform, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the State Darwin Museum in Russia, the Digital Archive of Natural History in Denmark, the Science Museum Group in the UK and many more. One of the most notable members, the Smithsonian Institution, has already uploaded several 3D models to Sketchfab’s online platform as part of its new open access program.
“This announcement is only just the start of Sketchfab’s support for CC0—we expect and invite more institutions to add 3D models to the public domain via the CC0 dedication in the future,” Sketchfab writes on its blog. “If you work at a museum, gallery, or archive and want help dedicating your organisation’s 3D models to the Public Domain, please get in touch.”
Sketchfab’s platform today consists of over 300,000 3D models under the Creative Commons Attribution license. This license enables people to reuse 3D models under the condition that credit is given to the original creator and any changes are indicated. With the newly introduced CC0 dedication for cultural heritage content, Sketchfab users are free to “copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.”
Essentially, this means that anyone, from artists and designers to businesses, can utilize the 3D model content without crediting the original creator. The driving idea behind this is to unleash creative possibilities and expand access to historical objects. To date, about 1,700 CC0 3D models have been uploaded by Sketchfab’s partners.