IP, 3D Printing & DMCA

An Epic Journey into the Grey Spectrum of IP, Creative Commons, Moral Rights & 3D Printing

Many of you may now be aware of the recent exchanges that have taken place over the 3D printed Impossible Triangle (Penrose Triangle) first posted on Shapeways on the 9th of Feb.  In a matter of days a sequence of events unfolded that are indicative of the speed that 3D printing community moves when something exciting happens, both good and bad. It has raised serious issues that we need to discuss as a community to ensure the vibrancy and innovation is not crippled by legal interference.

Ulrich Schwanitz first uploaded his item on the 27th of January 2010, which was to be the first ever 3D printed Penrose Triangle. He then received the print on the 9th, took a few simple images and made a mind disturbing video that showed that indeed he had succeeded in making a truly amazing optical mind twister.

We saw his item in the ‘It Arrived’ forum and reached out to a few of our press connections to share what we thought was a very cool design, the press agreed and sites such as Notcot and Fastco Design posted the item and generated a torrent of interest in the geometric wonder. This led to a bit of conjecture on the internet with a couple of people figuring out a solution including Constantine Zuev and soon after with a 3D model by Artur Tchoukanov where Joris posted the solution on the I.Materialise blog on Feb 16th and Artur also released the 3D model onto Thingiverse.. (but you may not be able to see it right now).

So, the Fastco article gets updated with Artur’s CG renders and boingboing posts about Artur’s solution on the 17th but unintentionally omitted to mention the 3D item was first realized by Ulrich.  Ulrich is disappointed that his concept solution has been leaked (perhaps a simple “I solved it” would have been enough without releasing the solution as a cad file) and that he was not attributed as the inventor on boingboing. Upon notification that Ulrich designed the original 3D model Cory Doctorow updated his post as soon as he could to rectify the omission.

It does not end here as Ulrich, disappointed at the decision of Artur to render the original design worthless by releasing it into the public domain also sent a take down notice to Thingiverse under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Pictured above is the first derivative of Artur’s unprinted model by Chylld on Thingiverse.

Ok, so maybe the DMCA notice was not the best way to handle the situation, legalities aside, it is often better to communicate directly with the person who has posted the object if you think there is a problem.  I am not qualified to really give a full breakdown of the legality of the DMCA, whether Ulrich holds a copyright, whether he can issue a DMCA from the Netherlands where he is based to the USA where Thingiverse is based but Thingiverse were obliged to respond to takedown notices in a timely manner or risk losing protection under the “Safe Harbor” provision. For more info on the legalities of 3D printing take a good look at It Will Be Awesome if They Don’t Screw it Up by Michael Weinberg.

Now we have the first time a DMCA takedown notice is issued for a copyrighted object in the 3D printed world, something that was bound to happen sooner or later.  Not only is the item by Artur taken down, but also the derivative by Chylld that further increases the complexity.

After consideration Ulrich has decided to drop the DMCA notice, and instead release his model to the public domain on the 21st of February… This is a really good move on Ulrich’s part that will hopefully lessen the stress on all parties and some of the negativity permeating through the 3D printing community.

In the meantime new versions of the Penrose Triangle have been posted on Thingiverse “based solely on the 1934 design painted by Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvärd” in what is becoming a symbol of defiance against DMCA in relation to 3Dprinting.

Now we need to discuss how we can resolve these issues in the future without the slow and heavy hand of law and legislation choking the speed and creativity of the online maker movement.

We need to ensure Shapeways and Thingiverse remain a safe place to show and share ideas and products without them being copied without proper attribution and released in a matter of days thereby devaluing the original. We also need to make sure that Shapeways and Thingiverse do not become flooded with copies and knock-offs of existing designs which would move them away from being a place of innovation to one of suspicion from potential users and copyright protection authorities. 

We have of course seen precedents with music, game and movies being pirated and shared, but the relatively small size of the community make this a little more intimate.  The fact that this is being played out between two or three people, but watched by many more, who are all passionately involved in pushing design forward with 3D printing may have fueled this to move into a awkward position incredibly quickly, all unfolding within two weeks..

Like the precedents above, we now have their experience and the help of Creative Commons licenses as a framework of attribution to guide us and make it easier to be fair when we share but this does not cover this incidence where a design is copied and then shared. Rather than use legislation or law it would be better if we as a community decide how to deal with this situation. We also have It Will Be Awesome if They Don’t Screw it Up as a starting point for the discussion.

We need to create our own guidelines and boundaries of what is acceptable before legislation does if for us, we need to work as a community to define what is acceptable, and when it is not, how we deal with that.  We need to keep communication open, if someone does something you think is a direct copy of your, or someone else’s design, let them know personally, or send an email to Shapeways, Thingiverse, Ponoko or wherever the item is and let us know your concerns.

This of course is just the beginning and we will e discussing this more in the future, but we would love to hear your thoughts on this and how we can make this work in a fair way for everyone.

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  1. Darren

    There is some legal/etc precedent which may be informative in the origami community. Copyright protection is explicit for the diagrams which convey the models. If someone wanted to make their own diagram of an existing model, the would have the right… but the community has agreed that doing so constitutes an infringement. Commercial use of a model without permission of the artist has resulted in compensation by the infringing company, even when no diagram was copied.

    There are often licences associated with the purchase of clothing designs, but I have less personal exposure to that community.

    Both cases share the aspect of creating a physical product from their description and so the lessons of those communities may be of use.

    1. Duann

      Thanks Darren,

      Has there been any case of a design being undermined by releasing the plans for a commercial item?

    2. Darren

      It has been fairly consistent for origami books coming out of China to use diagrams from artists who received no compensation for their work. Either the diagrams are simply copied or they are redrawn to get around strict interpretations of copyright and the Berne Convention rulings.

      This may be informative: http://www.origami-usa.org/files/OrigamiUSA%20Copyright%20Analysis+FAQ.pdf

      There is a notable case of a “Flying Pig” model claimed to be created by two independent authors. It led to a great deal of drama at the time, but neither side ever gave in and now the issue of independent invention is much better acknowledged.

    3. Robert Schouwenburg

      Voluntary attribution is also very successful in the scientific world. As long as ideas can freely flow between parties there is no economic gain for anybody. It creates an efficient market as economists would call it. Everybody in the market have access to the same information.

      Trade secrets, patents and copyrights are created to protect economic value of the original creators. I do wonder if the economic protection is in balance with the protection of rights in these cases.

  2. Tom Bell

    Under most copyright regimes no copyright vests in 3-d objects other that those defined as sculptures although any drawings we produce to make then *are* under copyright.

    Now as 3-d artist and modelers we may be tempted to to try and push the boundaries of these laws, either through the courts or legislation to get our work included.

    But this would be the start of a slippery slope which would have very unfortunate unintended consequences.

    If you think about it, copyright is generated by simply creating an applicable object, it does not have to be applied for. So if it applied to 3-d objects then every man made object would be covered by copyright and it would be next to impossible to ever take a photo or show anything on television without breaking copyright law.

    We would also hand a very dangerous weapon to big business as we would at a stroke, outlaw non-original manufacture spare parts. Just think what your car repairs would cost if the manufacturer had a monopoly on those spares.

    Copyright started life as a tool of repression and censorship, it impedes the flow of human knowledge, it may of had uses in times gone by, though my personal feeling is that it was the agents and middle men who have benefited most from it, not the artists. In this day and age it is becoming more of a weapon to imped innovation and maintain the status quo.

    We have a chance to develop our little section of the universe without it’s stifling presence. If we can make things work without it, then maybe we can set an example to everyone else.


  3. Ifung Lu

    Been wrestling with this myself… agree with above, but what constitutes sculpture vs a generic 3d object? It is a slippery slope, but then again what’s to stop people from arguing that *all* models are sculpture and thereby protected?

    It’s just a matter of time until a big legal case comes up to test this. Not really a sound foundation to encourage free participation in the maker movement, I think.

    Perhaps explicit licensing of 3D models under creative commons could work, as there already is a legal foundation for that. Then you can explicitly differentiate between models with all rights reserved and others with CC licensing in all the various forms (attribution, non-commercial, no derivative works, etc).

    Perhaps other public licenses like GPL or BSD could be applied to protect the freedom of users to access and modify the “source”. Heck, models are destributed as “code” (STL, STEP), so why don’t software licenses apply?

    Maybe the best way to control how this all turns out legally is to *ASSERT* ownership / copyright of models and then license on our own terms through public licenses and commercial licenses?

    Exciting, complicated, troubling… all at the same time. Thoughts?

    1. Duann

      It really brings up so many issues that we are going to have to deal with and most likely sooner than later. It is mainly individuals who are the players at the moment, wait until a corporation with actual lawyers on staff looking for something to set a precedent and gain ground get involved..

  4. Glenn Slingsby

    I think this whole issue is going to be as fraught with difficulties and arguments as any other medium concerning copyright, if not more so. What makes the matter even more difficult is that different copyright laws exist in different parts of the world, heck, even different parts of the same country – (look up ‘artist’s right to artwork in California’, for example).

    When we finally get to the point where a “regular person” can sit at home and “dial up” a design for brake pad, shovel, computer keyboard, toothbrush, or whatever, at home and have it made on his/her personal fabricator, what of copyright laws then? Who creates and markets that 3D file? Are we going to have a nation/world of 3D file pirates? If the music and movie industries are anything to go by, then, yes, we will.

    Manufacturing on demand (when it gets to a certain point) is going to have more of an impact on the world than the printing press did, I believe. It has incredible potential in developing countries, while at the same time causing grief to some and continuing to keep lawyers employed…


  5. Cathal Garvey

    I’m glad to see that Ulrich has decided to drop the DMCA notice, and set things straight. Kudos to him, firstly for his excellent design and secondly for his excellent decision.

    I’d just like to point out that releasing a design into the public domain does *not* “Render it worthless” in the slightest. I’ve sold a comfortable number of Dremelfuges despite releasing my design under an Open Source license (CC-BY-SA to be precise) on Thingiverse, and I’m proud to have done so.

    Those wanting a precision-made, predictable device can order one through Shapeways, and only those without the money or the personal investment in DIYbio will print one for themselves.. they wouldn’t have been my customers anyway, and I don’t begrudge them having a thing they have spent the personal effort in modding/printing personally. After all, it was a labour of love, and love ought to be shared! 🙂

    Thanks again to Ulrich for putting things right.

  6. caru

    “Ulrich is disappointed that his concept solution has been leaked (perhaps a simple “I solved it” would have been enough without releasing the solution as a cad file) and that he was not attributed as the inventor on boingboing.”

    Dear Ulrich, as I also said somewhere else, every-one is free to do whatever they want with your concepts, unless you patent them before they are published by someone else.
    This needs to be clear to all designers, so that they can benefit from discovered concepts without fear! And use them in their own CAD designs if they wish so.

    1. Duann

      Hi Caru, I think it gets more complex when the item is deemed a sculpture/art then in some instances there is automatic protection.. I remember in the days before music went digital musicians used to make 2 copies of the master tape and mail one to themselves, keep it sealed as proof of originality with the postal stamp as the date marker. No filing was/is needed for artists, depending where you are.

  7. Paul King

    Copyright, design rights (whether registered or otherwise) and patents are all seperate concepts… Ulrich’s triangle falls into the category of an unregistered design, which could have been patented… not that I’m qualified in such things (but I have fought my own corner and won in the past)

    It is disgusting that in this day and age, there is so little respect for artists and desingers…
    SHAME on those that chose to take it upon themselves to publish another’s work without permission.

    1. Tom Bell

      Well besides the fact I disagree with your philosophy, you are wrong on the point of law.

      A design patent would almost certainly fail due to lack of originality, in fact, if the original Penrose drawing is still in copyright the rights may accrue to him. The law gives much better protection to 2-d work that 3-d. If you make a 3-d model of a Disney figure from one of their drawings, they own the copyright on that model.

      Secondly the copy was not a copy of the file that produced the object but a different file that produce an identical object. Only the file is subject to copyright .

      One great misconception that needs to be corrected, you cannot copyright a concept, only the execution of a work using that concept.

      I’m afraid the people who thought up the marketing ploy of calling ideas “intellectual property” are winning in our society and convincing people they haver lost something when one is copied.

      I really, really think designers need to become not so precious about their ideas and work and treat copying for the flattery that it is.

    2. Paul King

      Tom… I’m in the UK where a patent is issued for a real physical item 😉
      A design can be a drawing, image, or computer file… the design was copied without permission.

      Anyways, I know my stance on the issue, and I do not call copying-without-recognition flattery.

    3. Cathal Garvey

      Hi Paul,
      Tom was referring to Copyright, no Patent Rights, and was quite correct in his statement. You cannot copyright a printed product or physical item, only the design file that led to that item. As multiple design files may lead to similar or identical finished products, copyright barely applies, and only in cases where the original design file was used. Even then, executing the file to print copies does not count as copying the file itself, so if a copy of the original, copyrighted file is owned with permission then printing it is not protected against by copyright.

      Although I recognise the right of paranoid creators to protect their own unique, original and meritorious work with some sort of patent system, I’d side with most of the commenters here that the system is terribly broken, rarely protects independent inventors, and serves mostly to slow the pace of technological progression.

      All that said, credit should be given where credit is due, and it’s unfortunate for Ulrich that his excellent take on the “impossible tribar” was originally attributed to someone else.

    4. Duann

      Part of what makes it tricky is different laws across different territories.

      This also gives the system a robustness whereby a loophole or inequality does not cripple the entire system, just that territory, and gives others examples of how, and how not to legislate…

    5. tebee

      UK design rights are roughly the same as US design patents – but that does not alter the fact that one of the requirements of eligibility is originality. Even if it were protectable only his interpretation of the original 2-d design he copied would be.

      In much the same way if I go and make a drawing of a building down my street I have a copyrightable drawing of that building, but it does not stop anyone else from making an almost identical drawing of the same building.

      In case anyone thinks I am an disinterested outsider hoping to cash in in the efforts of others I might point out that I have a Shapeways shop with 130 of my own, original designs in it !

    6. Paul King

      US patents are no where near the same as UK design rights… and that depends upon the interpretation of the relevant legislation where the laws are applied 😉

      A drawing or painting etc of something can be copyrighted as it is the artists interpretation of whatever they see… directly copying that work is a breach of copyright… another artist may draw/paint the same thing and their work is copyrighted in its own right as the work is not a copy.

      Design rights encompase the whole item, its looks and style etc.

      Patents are for tangiable products… in the UK a patentable item must be a physical item… The US has different rules about what is patentable including methods and computer software… sorry, a method of doing something without the physical hardware or writing software by adapting (writing in) a programming language is plain daft for patents.

      US patents and UK design rights are not similar.

      I do not know where Ulrich got his design from… if it is a 2D design, I’d be surely interested in seeing the original (not the penrose triangle… the original of Ulrich’s design)

      I feel he got ripped of for original work… I’ve had it done to me and it is not nice seeing someone else profit from it.

      We are not in the world of Star Trek or pure communism… someone is always waiting to make a ‘buck’ off of the back of someone else

      It is wrong that someone spends time and effort in something without just reward (whatever that reward may be).

    7. Cathal Garvey

      Except.. nobody “ripped off” Urlich’s design in this case. They may have been accidentally given credit at first, but they were only responding to his implicit challenge, and they put the designs out for free for the consideration of the 3D printing community. There was no attempt made, to my knowledge, to sell or undercut Ulrich’s design to make a “quick buck”.

    8. Paul King

      What implicit challenge?
      … oh… do you mean that someone felt the need to be a spoil sport and blab because they didn’t think of it first but worked it out.

      It was obvious (to me) how he accomplished the design… go search “That’s Nuts” on youtube to see an example of the same concept.

      Whatever happened to honour and respect?

    9. Cathal Garvey

      Wow, chill out. I was referring to the fact that he declined to reveal the trick by his own account, saying something to the effect of “I’ll wait a while and see if anyone figures it out”. *That* implicit challenge.

      You’d do well to take a moment and consider that not everyone on the internet is evil. Sharing the solution to a cognitive problem isn’t “Being a spoilsport”, it’s indulging the human desire to understand and share knowledge.

    10. Paul King

      i had a reply all typed out and then the server went down…

      The internet;
      Sharing knowledge with consent = great (google *air muscle*, my webpage = #4 ;))
      Sharing knowledge without consent != great

      Consent is the keyword here.

      Only Ulrich can answer if he gave his consent for his design to be published if someone else worked it out.

  8. Govert Combée

    Copyrights, patents and others…oh boy this discussion AGAIN… untill 300 years ago people did fine without those… there even are whole industries (fashion, car design and video games) where these “ohnoes somebody is stealingz our ideaz!” mentality is cropping up and being stamped down regularly.

    Let me misquote and adapt F. Coppola: “getting money for you art [ideas] isn’t a right, it’s a reward”.

    You don’t need lawyers to build a brand, all you need is for the public to recognise the artist/desgner originator. If afterwards somebody can produce better/cheaper/faster than the originator of the idea, then it’s just the way things should be…or would you rather the big polluting factory stay in business thanks to its legal monopoly?
    I don’t think the originator of the idea even needs to b credited, because if the idea is original it will be traced back to him through styling, colleagues or word of mouth.

    Copying a design should be the norm… if artists/engeneers want to make a dime all they have got to do is give potential clients the reassurance that tailormade goods have value (and thus fund the R&D/art). Just like the fashion industry does.

    There will always be people willing to buy or manufacture “cheaper” knock-offs, but a little bit more savy people[clients] understand that if you want to see more art[stuff] from a certain individual because you happen to like what they do, buying from this person is the only way to ensure future good stuff comming from that source.

    And as long as there will be trolls, lawyers or people who want to profit from other people’s sweat and tears, there will be a feeling that we need protection… Thing is, lets assume those are 10% of your revenue/sales that people without a proper sense of responsability “infringe” on … is it really worth spending more than 10% of your time worrying about them? paying them? listening to them?… or would you just rather leave them to rot and go on with your life?
    It’s not like you will have just one single world changing idea in your life… and if you do, well nobody worries about the inventors of the spreadsheet, or the toilet… we still use it every day, does it matter to those people that they’re not famous or getting credit? of course it does… but on the other hand, even if they’re not recognised often enough, they changed the world and they know it.

    1. Glenn Slingsby

      I don’t entirely agree with you Govert… Perhaps in an ideal world we should just be free to create and copy but we don’t live in an ideal world. And your assumption that copies of products amounts to 10% of sales and we shouldn’t do anything about that also doesn’t work. It’s precisely because lawyers do go after copyists that the percentage is kept “under control” (and no, I’m NOT a lawyer!). That also doesn’t help the ‘amazing product’ that a poor unknown person creates and that then gets copied and mass produced by some unscrupulous corporation thus depriving the designer of making ANY money on his/her idea. How is the public to recognise that person as the inventor of the product if he/she has no money to make, advertise and market the product?

      Everyone is free to their opinion and I certainly don’t have the answer to this debate but just letting people be free to do whatever they want with anyone’s ideas won’t work either.

      On the other hand if lawyers had been around when the wheel was invented maybe we’d all still be walking everywhere! 🙂

    2. Govert Combée

      Sorry to burst your bubble Glenn, but the main reason lawyers go after copyistst is that there’s enough money involved for them to get payed… it has nothing to do with keeping anything “under control”… only people with deep pockets can pay lawyers, and increasingly this will stiffle innovation. Currently lots of inventors cannot even think freely because they might step on somebody elses inventions. Lets say IBM wants you dead, they can kill you by sending 100 infringements notices… by the time you have figured out none of them apply to the current situation, which involves a lot of time, and maybe some lawyerly advice, you’re ready to settle.

      The current system is broken at its core: owning an idea. Like owning air it just doesn’t work in the real world unless it’s enforced by laws. Sure you can pour a gazillion into R&D, and patenting, copyrighting, that won’t protect you from Joe Clueless having a brilliant idea…oh wait… IT DOES. Now is this fair to Joe Clueless?

      Most people nowadays aren’t even stimulated to become anything else than office drones, because of the risks (well duuhuuuh) involved in becomming anything else. If there is one thing the internet taught us is to “let go”, let the crowds innovate, tinker and try out new things… if you put legal hurdles at every corner, if the fear of being stolen from is made bigger than the fear of running out of ideas… we’d all be sitting in a dark cave whispering sweet words to our preciousss ideas.

      Innovation stems from sharing, and if you want to share, you want to share _now_… not in two years when the patent is done, or 2000 dollars later at each idea you come up with, or 500 dollar legal fees finding out if an idea is “worth it”… per definition inventing stuff produces things that are new and which value can only be assessed once the general population gets to tinker with it. The idea that the only tinkering can be done by people savy enought to know their rights (and obligations) is from an age where fablabs, chemistry installations, and DNA sequencers took more room than a kitchen table and cost more than a car.

    3. Cathal Garvey

      Though I am doing my level best to bring DNA rapid-prototyping to the masses, I’m afraid DNA sequencers and synthesisers are still extortionately priced…

      It is my hope that before ten years are out, there’ll be a desktop DNA printer. If I’m lucky, I’ll be the guy responsible for it. 🙂

      And then some asshat with a bunch of patents will kill me for inventing it first (because let’s be serious, they don’t *actually* need to invent something or know how to make it to secure a patent on it these days..). All the more reason, I feel, to release it ASAP and share it with the world, so by the time they’ve consulted their legal team to assemble a list of spurious accusations and demands, it’s too late. They’ll have stopped me, but they can’t stop the invention.

      The twenty-teens are going to really shake up “intellectual property”. I can’t wait.

    1. Glenn Slingsby

      But as someone posted on that site; you can’t compare the fashion industry with something like, for example, robotics. If a company spends 10 years and 100 million dollars inventing a robot “brain” surely they deserve more protection for their design than does, say, Louis Vuiton for “inventing” a “new” dress. My very first job was in the fur industry. The owner of the coat manufacturing business would create “new” coats by buying from his competitors, cutting them open and making copies of the design – with VERY slight changes. If the competitor to the robotics company can simply reverse-engineer the new brain and make their own brains is this fair to the original company?

    2. Govert Combée

      “If the competitor to the robotics company can simply reverse-engineer the new brain and make their own brains is this fair to the original company? ”
      The only reason it took them 10 years in the first place is because they were “boxing in” their research, if they had been able to work together with other firms freely, or use any technology available it would probably have taken them less time. Also we now have a new robotics brain monopoly onto which nobody else can build but themselves the comming 20 years… which means a lot of alternative brains have to be invented and built, a lot of energy spent on something that basically is already available but only to people with deep pockets (or better: lawyers).

      This whole idea that somehow 10 years of your time invested = 10 years of comming monopoly or at least recuperating development costs just isn’t sane in a world where there’s a a lot of people being kept from improving on your design, a lot of people with better production methods, and even a lot of people only willing to buy said product but 1)not at that price and 2) not from you and 3) aren’t even near where you are.

      What we are talking about is the “Cathedral VS the bazaar” kind of thinking, and currently I got my bet on the bazaar. It’s because I think crowdsourcing will be more and more the norm, and big companies will try to kill off this “competition”. The laws are boing hollowed out as we speak, my generation, and the comming generation don’t believe in the law anymore because it takes 10 years to change, in a world which changes every 18 months that’s waaaaaay too late. It will be like the drug scene or music piracy, the best current example is Sony’s crackdown on the PS3 “hack”… and I don’t care what the law in the United States of America says, in Europe: I own the hardware, I can do whatever the hell I want with it… Like the debate about the grandson of an author still living off his grand-dads work, or corporation extending the laws every time something is about to become public domain… people just shrug it off and continue downloading, buying, doing drugs or whatever they feel like, if people thought laws are justified and working, the prisons would be empty…. oh my I got a bit of topic there.

      Back on topic: have you seen what is happening to the Kinect, what happened to the PS3, how much “homebrew DNA sequencing” and other emerging fields of crowdsourcing are doing? Do you think it is wrong for -patented- aids medicine to be withheld from patients who can only afford the cheaper-exactly-the-same knock-off?
      When people are able to build anything in their own home, do you really think they will settle for the more expensive -just the same- stuff because “it’s the law”, when the stuff they need might be prosthetics, a new car for 1/10th of the cost, or (going out on a limb here) a pet robot to help grand-ma up the stairs?

    3. Anonymous

      I hear what you’re saying and can agree with most of it – at least in theory. This “Star Trek universe” where everyone is free to do (almost) what they want just isn’t as black and white as that. In this universe you seem to be saying (and I don’t want to put words in your mouth) that if you own a printing company you can take one of my paintings and reproduce it without my permission or any financial compensation…? What will be the outcome of that? The term “starving artists” seems to be appropriate. This “to hell with you, I’m going to do whatever I want” attitude doesn’t work. That’s why the current model of copyrights, patents, etc., exists. I’m not saying it’s perfect – far from it – or that there isn’t room for improvement, but it can’t just be illegally shrugged off because you don’t like it. At least “my generation” can admit that.

      Oh, and that “Star Trek universe” reference wasn’t mine – I ripped it off from someone else here!

    4. Govert Combée

      You’re not putting words in my mouth, that is actually somehow what I’m saying… with one big difference: there are (will be) no companies anymore… manufacturing happening at home, and where anybody could buy and manufacture cheaply from home, that is where the hiccup in our understanding comes from, the idea of the current production model won’t apply anymore, the only “costs” involved for the originator of an idea will be time.

      Weirdly enough Mozart, Michelangelo and Da-Vincy did just fine as “starving artists”.

      … In your world view publishing companies still have a “right to be”, in my view these “middlemen” do not add anything of value.

      Kickstarter or other websites will fund R&D, sales from the artist’s own website will garantee the artist gets a share. Big companies “ripping off” the image and producing knock-offs is a consumer education issue, not a lawyer issue.

      Insanity is trying the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results, currently the movie and music publishers are experiencing this, while artists discover the value of creative commons and earn their lives through concerts, youtube, microfunding and other initiatives.

      These things are already happening _right now_ because people are understanding that by the time the courts are done the issue is moot.
      Of course there is my personal morality, which means I will contact people for permission, I will abide by the CC-BY if they are using it. I don’t think anybody should have ownership of their ideas, just get credit, or attribution. And at least 30% of the revenues generated by their ideas… but in no way should they have a right to a monopoly, which the current laws are built for.

      Star Trek was 50 years ago, most of the technologies have made it into our daily lives, and the speed at which these technologies are developped means that home car printing will probably be very real in 20 years.
      In that future the only difference between what you print at home, and an identical part off the shelves will be price… at that stage prosumers will decide if they like you or your company is worth their attention… if it isn’t, they’ll just make that print.

    5. Glenn Slingsby

      Well, let’s hope that this “perfect” future arrives as soon as possible because there are going to be a lot of growing pains in between now and then. I acknowledge that things will change and actually welcome it (or I wouldn’t be here!) – I’ve said somewhere on this site, I believe, that on-demand-manufacturing will have a far larger impact on humanity than the printing press ever did, just as an example.

      The world will be a very different place for my 13yr old child and I’m trying to prepare him for those changes so he doesn’t get locked into our present way of thinking. It’s not easy, but the education system has to change as well or we’ll be stuck in this rut forever…

    6. Paul King

      Go further back in history (real history) than Star Trek, everyone doing everything for the good of everyone was tried…and failed… George Orwell wrote a book about it.

      Anyways, until everyone (all beings on this planet we call Earth) is in agreement that there needs to be some kind of protection for an individual’s creations… all that ‘everyone’ needs to do now is agree what that protection should be and how to impliment it.

      Nuff Sed!

  9. Richard Stallman

    The issue of copyright and 3D designs is very important.
    To help people understand the issue, it is vital not to confuse
    it with other unrelated issues such as patents, trademarks,
    trade secrets, plant variety monopolies, etc.

    So please don’t call copyright “intellectual property”. That term is
    spin for our enemies. By confusing a dozen different laws, it impedes
    clear thinking about any one of them. See

    The clear and concrete way to refer to this issue is to
    call it “copyright”.

    I think that sites for 3D object designs should adopt strict
    requirements about licenses. For designs that are practical and
    functional, sites should insist on a free license (the same licenses
    that are good for software are good for object designs, and you can
    use the GNU GPL).

    As for decorative designs, I think they should permit at least the
    sharing of exact copies (any CC license will do that).

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