In a post in back in January 2009 on the Shapeways blog, Joris discussed some implications of intellectual property rights for the Shapeways community via I Love Threadless & IP Rights. Now that more models are being made available to download by the Shapeways community it may be worth looking at exactly how you would like to share your digital files.
You may already know of Creative Commons, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright.
They provide free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof.
Creative Commons released its first set of copyright licenses for free to the public late 2002. Creative Commons developed its licenses inspired in part by the Free Software Foundation’s GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) to help people license their works freely for certain uses, on certain conditions; or dedicate works to the public domain.
Shapeways member Improbable Cog has released a number of his works for download under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike License as part of his successful Kickstarter initiative. Under this license you are free to
Share: to copy, distribute and transmit the work
Remix: to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
Attribution: You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
Share Alike: If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.
By allocating this license to the file anyone who downloads the file should be aware of the conditions that Improbable Cog is willing to share his work.
If you are not sure which license is right for you, there is a form on the Creative Commons site to make it easier for you to select a license.
The Creative Commons Licenses are used in many fields at many different levels from amateur to professional. Some that may be relevant include Flickr, Thingiverse, CadYou, Wikipedia, Open Design etc. etc. etc.
So think about the designs you are sharing and how you would like to share them. Would you like attribution, would you like to send your babies out ino the world and see how they evolve and are mutated by others? Do you want to se others commercialize a derivative of your initial concept?