Shapeways, The Community

American Censorship Day

Shapeways is participating in American Censorship Day. Today the US Congress holds hearings regarding two laws called Protect IP Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). These laws will change the Internet landscape forever if they are signed into law. They will give content owners unprecedented power to act on any alleged copyright infringement of their content.

So what is wrong with these two laws? If put into effect, the following things become reality:

  1. The US government can order Internet service providers to block any website because a user has posted copyrighted material
  2. The blocking of these websites is using a fundamental basis of the Internet called domain name system (DNS) and can prevent the Internet as a whole from functioning properly
  3. Users who infringe knowingly or unknowingly risk 5 years of jail time when convicted of their crime. Remember the toddler video on Youtube dancing on a Prince song for which they received a cease-and-desist letter from Universal?
  4. Content owners can cut off revenue streams of sites where a user posted copyrighted material just by sending a notice to their payment provider

So why does that hurt Shapeways?

  1. We receive and process more than a thousand uploads per day and produce more than 25,000 unique products each month. It is impossible for us to monitor and validate each model for copyright infringement, despite the measures we’ve put in place. Even if we would have the man power to check these models, I am sure we are not able recognize all copyrighted content.
  2. Copyrighted content posted by one user on Shapeways can lead to blocking access to shapeways.com for all US users or disable our payment processing so we couldn’t take your orders anymore. For many people, Shapeways has become crucial to their business and income. What about these people? And for all of our users, how would you do your 3D printing then?
  3. An organized witch hunt – like RIAA does – on individual users who post copyrighted material on any site could lead to unwillingness to share and publish your designs on shapeways.com. Without our community, Shapeways doesn’t exist.
These laws will put an enormous burden and risk on any content sharing site in the United States. Shapeways is not alone in this but sites like Facebook, Google, Etsy, Ebay, Twitter, Flickr are all at risk. We take the opportunity today to make a public statement to the US government. Over 50 venture capitalist in the United States have sent a letter to Congress warning about the effects on the internet and innovation.


For more information please visit americancensorship.org. If you are a US citizen, we encourage you to reach out to your congressional representative and tell them you share our concerns. It is not too late yet!

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