Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Another way copyright is broken

The digital marketplace for 3D printing is wide open, allowing makers to design or replicate almost anything. Because of that, there are many intellectual property battles and other legal issues on the horizon.

3D printing poses a challenge to Lego because the pieces can so easily be replicated with fused deposition modeling printers. They make perfect building blocks. Look at faBrickation, a new approach to rapid prototyping. The key idea is to save 3D printing time by automatically substituting sub-volumes with standard building blocks by using Lego bricks.

A person could print their own Star Wars ring, printed in the same font as the original movie. Such a ring is for sale on Shapeways and will likely eventually be a target of legal action.

It will be interesting to see how this develops because this is yet another example of technology rendering (pun intended) past business models obsolete.

One question I have is this. Is it legal for me to build a sculpture of Yoda? Can I sell this sculpture as well without breaking any copyright law? If the answer is yes, then what's the difference between carving a sculpture or creating a 3D model template and letting the printer do the carving?

Once again we see that technology has made the act of copying ubiquitous, this time physical copying. This make sit necessary to completely and without corporate bias, re-evaluate the entire copyright model.

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