If you want to understand the new frontier of 3D printing Copyright, Patent and Trademark law, Public Knowledge’s new white paper: So, What is the Deal with Copyright and 3D Printing? is a perfect resource to understand exactly where the law stands now.

3D printing and Intellectual Property

The paper is a follow up to their previous 3D printing whitepaper It Will Be Awesome if They Don’t Screw It Up: 3D Printing, Intellectual Property, and the Fight Over the Next Great Disruptive Technology.  Where as the previous paper focused on the broad connection between intellectual property law and 3D printing, What’s the Deal? focuses on the relationship between copyright and 3D printing.

This is an extremely helpful paper for those creating works that lie between sculptural and functional works and copyright does not cover functional objects but can in some cases cover aesthetic aspects of the functional objects. What we like to call, ‘the grey area‘.  With this distinction the paper also clarifies a really important point which has been confusing for many people, a Creative Commons license cannot be used to legally protect a functional object.  We have seen many people share their functional 3D files with a Creative Commons license in a number of places online,  although this is not legally binding, it does offer a social construct that should be respected, a way to communicate the way in which you would like to share, and a possible framework for the future.

Take the time to read the paper, it is an incredibly useful resource for all of us navigating through unchartered waters. 

The paper is shared under a Creative Commons license, of course… Great work by Michael Weinberg and his team.