I know – what could be more exciting than a blog post about an update to Terms & Conditions and Content Policies?  But stick with me.  This is kind of exciting because this update to our Terms and Conditions (T&C to those in the know) and Content Policy helps to make sure that the rules that govern what happens here on Shapeways match up with how you expect things to work here on Shapeways.

T&C Changes

Truth be told, most of the changes that we are making to the T&C are because the most recent T&C were a little . . . out of date.  We pulled references to services that we do not offer anymore and made sure that the way we describe things like payment processing and refunds reflects how we actually do payment processing and refunds.  There are also a few things that weren’t explained (or weren’t explained well) in the old T&C that now have a place.  You can check out the old T&C so you can compare them to the new T&C here.

There are a handful of changes that are worth mentioning in a bit more detail.  The first is the change in how we handle User Generated Content (UGC).  In the context of our T&C, UGC is essentially everything that is not your 3D model (think pictures that you might upload or descriptions that you might write) that you make visible to the public.  In our old T&C, by uploading this type of UGC to our website you gave all other users of the site a fairly broad license to use that content.  The new T&C narrows that license significantly and puts additional restrictions on the use.  Now, by uploading images and other UGC (again, not models in this case), you give other users a license to share your content on blogs and other social media.  However, that sharing must include prominent links back to your Shapeways shop or page.  Much of this type of sharing would likely be protected by fair use and not require a license in the first place, but we decided to clarify permissions in the interest of encouraging sharing.

The second noteworthy change is that we wanted to clarify how we might use your models internally.  Shapeways is a place for designers and we take the fact that you trust us with your designs very seriously.  That means that even when we use a design internally we want to be clear to you what that means.  Our new T&C clarify that we may use your model for internal testing and education.  That means that we might use your model to test new processes and train our production staff.  Why do this?  We print an almost unimaginable range of models for people every day.  Before we bring a new process online, and before we are confident that a new staffer is up to speed, we need to make sure that our processes and people can handle anything that you will throw at us.  The best way to do that is to take real models that you upload – those are the models that test the limits of what is possible with 3D printing – to make sure that we are up to snuff.  As I said, we take your trust seriously.  That’s why we only keep these models as long as we need them for our own internal operation, testing, and education.  Once we are done we destroy the model so there isn’t one floating around the world unaccounted for.

Content Policy Changes

The changes to the content policy are less dramatic.  They mostly have to do with organizing the policy to make it a bit more user friendly.  We also decided that it was time to change our official DMCA contact (that’s where copyright takedown notices are sent) from our CEO Pete to a more versatile generic “DMCA agent.”  This makes Pete’s inbox easier to handle and makes it easier for us to make sure that we are tracking and responding to DMCA takedown requests.  That aside, the biggest change to the Content Policy is probably that we now explicitly encourage people to contact each other before sending formal takedown notices.  We’re not requiring anyone to reach out before sending a takedown, but we have noticed that sometimes a polite email resolves conflicts more efficiently than a takedown notice.  Here’s a copy of our old Content Policy if you are curious what they look like side by side.


At the bottom of this post is a summary changelog tracking some of the updates to the T&C.  I encourage you to take a look at the changelog and at the updated T&C and Content Policy.  If you have questions or comments, feel free to shoot me an email at mweinberg@shapeways.com or ping me on twitter @MWeinberg2D.

Major updates:

  • Narrowed scope of UGC license
  • Clarified that Shapeways may use models for internal testing and education


Minor updates:

  • Removed references to nonexistent “gallery” and model rating system
  • Clarified that users can order as guests without creating an account
  • Prohibited obscene usernames
  • Clarified that Shapeways is the final arbiter of credits/refunds for cancelled orders
  • Updated production language to make it clear that we will immediately authorize, hold, and begin production if you pay with a credit card or PayPal
  • Required a general liability release from users
  • Eliminated overly aggressive copyright ownership language to recognize that there are non-authorized, non-infringing uses
  • Expanded warrants provided by you that you are not violating anyone else’s IP rights
  • Clarified that you use third party services at your own risk
  • Capped direct damages and clarified our limitation of liability if things go wrong
  • Added miscellaneous contractual clauses


Scales of Justice Seal by Lightbringer Designs.