We’ve discussed copyright and 3D printing on the BLLAWG before, but with developments in 3D printing accelerating, legal issues sprout up faster than a MakerBot can print your new shower curtain toggles.
3D printers have applications that go far beyond simple novelties. They have already been used to create functional prosthetics for amputees, working guns, and of course a huge array of copyright-infringing items.
There have only been a few instances of intellectual property holders sending cease and desist letters to prevent unlicensed objects from proliferating on 3D printer schematic websites, and no legal battles to speak of. However, an IP and technology partner, Michael Molano, argues that it’s only a matter of time.
The cease and desist letter may lose its effectiveness as the 3D printing legal arena evolves. Already there are instances of banned schematics being hosted despite pressure to take them down.
Barely over a week ago, downloadable schematics for a functioning 3D-printed gun were uploaded to the internet. Not long after, the U.S. State Department ordered Defense Distributed, the company that created and was hosting the plans, to take them down. Defense Distributed complied, but the cat is out of the bag now because multiple sites, including the notoriously elusive Pirate Bay, have already begun hosting the file.
It remains to be seen how hard intellectual property holders fight against those who use their materials without permission in 3D printer schematics, but if Defense Distributed is any indication, traditional legal tactics may just come up short.