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What Will Ubiquitous 3D Printing Do To IP Laws?

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the that-vase-is-cute,-snap-a-pic-to-we-can-print-it-later dept.

Technology 347

Lucas123 writes "With scanners able turn objects into printable files and peer-to-peer file sharing sites able to distribute product schematics, 3D printing could make intellectual property laws impossible or impractical to enforce. At the Inside 3D Printing Conference in San Jose this week, industry experts compared the rise of 3D printing to digital music and Napster. Private equity consultant Peer Munck noted that once users start sharing CAD files with product designs, manufacturers may be forced to find legal and legislative avenues to prevent infringement. But, he also pointed out that it's nearly impossible to keep consumers from printing whatever they want in the privacy of their homes. IP attorney John Hornick said, 'Everything will change when you can make anything. Future sales may be of designs and not products.'"

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347 comments

Impractical? (5, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | about 7 months ago | (#44905071)

"3D printing could make intellectual property laws impossible or impractical to enforce."

That won't stop the old boys from trying, like they are doing it with music and movies.

Re:Impractical? (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 7 months ago | (#44905183)

"You wouldn't download a car!"

"Fuck you! I would if I could!"

Seriously though, something's got to give here and soon. If we ever hit the point where most products can be reproduced essentially for free there is going to be a massive and thorough push to lock down the internet in ways the RIAA and MIAA can only dream of. Remember, those media companies are bit players in the grand scheme of things. The amount of money going into the IP protection lobby will sky rocket the day you can download the plans for a BMW off pirate bay.

Re:Impractical? (5, Insightful)

davidannis (939047) | about 7 months ago | (#44905517)

If we ever hit the point where most products can be reproduced essentially for free

No worries, the more complex the product the more complex the printer will need to be and the less efficient doing it on a small scale will be. We could all produce many things at home now but we don't. In part, it is more efficient to produce things in mass quantities. Then there is the up front cost. In part it is the complexity of producing certain components. There is a reason IC plants are so expensive; you can't print a chip without a lot complex machinery, a specific environment, etc. So, even if somebody comes up with a printer that can print a laptop it will have a large up front cost, require maintenance, and not be cheaper than paying a company that specializes in making laptops for many decades to come.

Re:Impractical? (5, Insightful)

smpoole7 (1467717) | about 7 months ago | (#44905623)

> the more complex the product the more complex the printer will need to be and the less efficient doing it on a small scale will be

There's some truth to that. I don't think you're going to have many individuals building a BMW (or even a Nissan Sentra) at home. A few hobbyists, maybe, not on a large scale.

But what is GOING to happen ... count on it ... is that small, local "custom shops" are going to spring up. What if I could get a cross between a Sentra and a BMW? Or something that looks like a Ferrari, but with the safety and fuel mileage of a small Audi? Now the IP laws are actually *overlapping* between identified brands.

What if I can go into a custom tailor's shop and have a suit made while I go have lunch? Just the way I want it, at a reasonable price, and without waiting for days.

THIS is the future. We live in exciting times.

Re:Impractical? (1)

spacecowboy420 (450426) | about 7 months ago | (#44905521)

Not worried. We have always found ways around the obstruction of information. We get better at it and they waste more effort with little success.

Re:Impractical? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 7 months ago | (#44905685)

It's a lot more like replacement or 'custom' parts rather than the full product itself.

You can't copyright a recipe. I would think that 'dimensions' would be very very similar to a 'recipe' though I have no idea if that's been legally fought/settled.

Nobody is going to have the ability to print out an actual car. (yes there's a guy who just did it, but it's not actually a BMW, just a bunch of plastic). Printers simply aren't going to be user quality and printing in materials like steel or carbon fiber.

Re:Impractical? (2)

Bert64 (520050) | about 7 months ago | (#44905747)

You can already download the plans for a car, and buy the parts (or manufacture them yourself if you have the appropriate equipment)...
The reason people buy cars is because the skills, equipment and resources required to build a car outweigh the cost of buying one.

If it became cheaper to build a car, then i would expect the prices of ready-built cars to drop accordingly. Only if they try to keep the prices artificially high will people resort to building their own at home.

Re:Impractical? (4, Interesting)

mspohr (589790) | about 7 months ago | (#44905857)

My car has little plastic thingies which spray water on the headlights. Due to snow and ice, they are broken. Replacement parts at the dealer cost $110 each (for a part which can't contain more than $1 worth of plastic).
I'd love to download and print replacements.

Re:Impractical? (3, Insightful)

internerdj (1319281) | about 7 months ago | (#44905889)

This is probably a bigger deal for the manufacturer than you actually being able to download and print the entire car.

Re:Impractical? (2)

Lashat (1041424) | about 7 months ago | (#44905849)

In theory, it could be circumvented by reverse engineering the BMW. So why not by taking the entire car apart. Catalog the parts. Scan the parts. Up load the parts. Print the parts. Rebuild the parts into the car. This takes a huge amount of raw materials to print with, effort, and experience. However, since this car is owned by the entity that scanned the parts, etc. It's like taking pictures of a car now. It that illegal? Is it illegal for me to post a picture of my car online? Is it illegal for me to sell pictures of my car?

It is most certainly NOT illegal for an OEM entity to make aftermarket parts for production cars. They might not be officially licensed by BMW and could be (probably) inferior to the OEM.

That said I would fully expect BMW to aggressively pursue any legal action against the entity printing exact duplicates of any of their parts without a license. What will the courts decide?

Re: Impractical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905205)

patton trolls be all over this and I'll be stuck down fast

Re:Impractical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905333)

"3D printing could make intellectual property laws impossible or impractical to enforce."

That won't stop the old boys from trying, like they are doing it with music and movies.

But it will be even harder to enforce because everyone will have GUNS they printed on their 3D printers, right?!

Re:Impractical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905353)

"3D printing could make intellectual property laws impossible or impractical to enforce."

That won't stop the old boys from trying, like they are doing it with music and movies.

3D printing really isn't anything which is fundamentally new. Long before the first 3D printer was developed, you could go download CAD files for a milling machine and make a product from a design with almost no technical skill or know-how. The only fundamental difference is that the 3D printers are an additive process, where a milling machine is purely subtractive, so you can produce a wider variety of objects as a single piece with the 3D printers.

The reason why the 3D printers are such a big news item, is because the manufacturers are targeting them at unskilled, home users. Milling machines are generally aimed at selling to professionals, and because of that they often require a level of technical knowledge and know-how which the average consumer might not have. But if a company were to produce a milling machine targeted at end consumers, we'd see the same exact issues arise as with the 3D printers.

So really I don't see why we treat it as a new issue, because really it's not. It's not really any different than being able to run a book through a copier and produce your own hardcopy.

Re:Impractical? (3, Insightful)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 7 months ago | (#44905719)

So really I don't see why we treat it as a new issue, because really it's not

The new 'issue' is scale and barriers to entry. One is huge whereas it was infinitesimal before, the other was huge and is going rapidly down.

This is what's known as 'Disruptive Innovation'.

Re:Impractical? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 months ago | (#44905767)

The reason is that 3D printers are dirt cheap compared to CAM machines, and that everyone can have something like this at home instead of taking his plans to some place to "make" them, where you could technically hold the owner of that machine, i.e. someone who doesn't directly benefit from the creation of the item, liable for infringement.

It's accessible to a lot more people than CAM machines were. Akin to how Napster made it trivially easy for anyone without any kind of technical knowledge whatsoever to share and download music. Before Napster, there were FTP servers and newsgroups, so Napster wasn't really "new" either, the ability to distribute content was there before. It just wasn't "consumer friendly".

Re:Impractical? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 months ago | (#44905617)

Pretty much this.

"Future sales will be of designs and not products". Yeah, sure. They'll willingly change their market model just like the MAFIAA did. Remember 10 years ago when everyone "knew" they'll change from content providers to advertisers for independent artists?

Boy, did we have a laugh.

Why does anyone think an industry would rather change their venue to adapt to changing technology than trying to buy legislation to protect their hackney business?

We had the warning years ago with downloading.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905091)

Looks like we missed the chance to reverse all these ancient laws back when downloading came on the scene.

Now 3D Printing will do to physical goods what downloading did years ago to digital goods.

Touche.

Re:We had the warning years ago with downloading.. (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 7 months ago | (#44905477)

People buy digital goods....netflix, itunes, amazon...all sell digital goods. Not just a little, but a lot, and that is an understatement.

I think what would end up happening is developing countries might suffer and the shipping industry might suffer. E.g. Amazon could sell yet another copy of an mp3 file without needing to have somebody in China assemble it, and there's no need for a UPS guy to deliver it. In the end the customer just saves money on both assembly on shipping, and the only four people who profit are Amazon, whoever designed it, whoever sells you the filament, and the payment processor.

The later could be eliminated with bitcoins.

This is all a good thing, by the way. One constant that has always repeated throughout history is that the cheaper anything becomes, the wealthier the poor become (remember not to confuse wealth with money.)

Re:We had the warning years ago with downloading.. (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 7 months ago | (#44905773)

developing countries might suffer

Only in that we don't need them to build our trinkets anymore. On the other hand though, they now can build things themselves in the same manner. Cheaper and locally. On sum I suspect it will really *help* developing countries a lot more than it might ever hurt.

what exactly can you print on these? (2, Interesting)

alen (225700) | about 7 months ago | (#44905095)

can i print clothes or shoes for my kids on a 3d printer?
can i print a working tablet?
how about a charging cable for my iphone?
or new toilet paper?

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (0)

Lucas123 (935744) | about 7 months ago | (#44905157)

Actually, all of the above.

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (1)

alen (225700) | about 7 months ago | (#44905181)

you can print real cotton clothes that are completely washable on a 3d printer? where do you get the raw cotton for it to form into clothing?

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (1, Funny)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 7 months ago | (#44905225)

you can print real cotton clothes that are completely washable on a 3d printer? where do you get the raw cotton for it to form into clothing?

You asked "can you".

Asked and answered. Your supply chain problems are a different issue.

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905463)

you can print real cotton clothes that are completely washable on a 3d printer? where do you get the raw cotton for it to form into clothing?

You asked "can you".

Asked and answered. Your supply chain problems are a different issue.

You must be a consultant.

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905799)

And i'm an engineer. All you really need here is a method of bulk production of cellulose, and a means of quickly and efficiently polymerizing it so that it can be drawn into a fiber, and spun into a thread.

There are many ways of doing this, the most efficient of which is an algae culturing system, that then gets chemically treated to remove the protiens and unwanted chlorophylls and anthocyanins.

Once polymerized cellulose fiber is on the market in bulk, it itself then becomes a bulk material, the way plastics are now. Current 3d printers leverage the ubiquity of waste plastic material in many ways. Likewise, recycling a cellulose garment, or other cellulose based waste (optional addon to the printer to accept grass clippings, for instance) would provide a similar bulk material source.

Cotton fiber is special, because it has special structures inside the fiber itself, in the form of the desicated cellular skeletons of the cells that produced it, which make it lighter, more airy, and more breathable. Using a foaming process before extrusion of the polymerized cellulose would produce a similar effect, as long as the resulting cellulose based plastic was not hydrophobic.

If you want to accomplish something, the first thing you need to do is stop telling yourself how it CANT be done, and tell yourself how it COULD be done.

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (2)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 7 months ago | (#44905695)

you can print real cotton clothes that are completely washable on a 3d printer? where do you get the raw cotton for it to form into clothing?

You asked "can you".

Asked and answered. Your supply chain problems are a different issue.

He asked "can you" in the context of the article, which is -- and I summarize -- "ZOMG 3D Piracy!!!1!" And in that context -- piracy, in the "threatening established commercial suppliers of goods" sense -- you really can't 3D print something at home (like clothes) where the phrase "supply chain problems" comes into play. Kind of like there was just about zero threat of music piracy prior to the introduction of magnetic tape. And really only minimal threat before the introduction of mag tape in a convenient format.

I'd like to be proved wrong in this case, mostly because I'd like to see something that could "print" practical clothing from some sort of feedstock like cellulose or thermoplastics. That would be cool.

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (2)

cdrudge (68377) | about 7 months ago | (#44905207)

Items 1, 3, and 4 you may be able to do, but the quality would really suck and would be a very poor substitute for the real thing manufactured with conventional techniques. I'd love to see #2 done but no you can't. At least not all the components.

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 7 months ago | (#44905249)

well, a "tablet" sure. like, the kind of that mimics a stone tablet.

a charging cable.. well, I suppose you could print a winding machine. also you could print tools for weaving and so forth..

it is going to destroy the market for some products, but not for all.

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905473)

No, you cannot. Provide proof, or stop lying.

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 7 months ago | (#44905475)

Only at the level of, "hey everybody, look at me, I was the first to use this type of device to create something that's sort of an XYZ!!!"

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 7 months ago | (#44905221)

can i print clothes or shoes for my kids on a 3d printer?

Not yet. However, there was a company that would take your measurements and it would cut all the pieces of cloth needed to build you a suit. All that was needed was a seamstress or tailor to sew the suit together. I could foresee cottage industries where custom clothes are built while you wait.

can i print a working tablet?

No, not yet. But you will be able to build yourself a custom tablet cover to protect your shiny new iPad .. for less than what BestBuy is charging for their piece of crap versions.

how about a charging cable for my iphone?

Not yet, but soon.

or new toilet paper?

Why? because you're an ass?

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905233)

clothing could theoretically be possible, if you dont mind synthetic fiber.

Connect a melting tank with a multiport extrusion nozzel with very fine aperatures, to a CNC knitting machine.

Many heavy duty work utility garments, like aprons, are already made from recycled PET plastic by spinning it into a fiber. Currently, the major obstacle on this front is the artificially inflated price of these devices. Computing tech is cheap these days. (look at BeagleBone and RPi), and thread handling machines are also cheap these days (Sewing machines.) I really dont see much of a compelling reason that a plastic recycling CNC knitting machine could not be on the market at a price point of 250$ or less.

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (1)

xtal (49134) | about 7 months ago | (#44905269)

You can't do much now, but you couldn't do much with a computer in 1970 either, besides, well, calculate things

If you extrapolate just a little bit, and look at what is going on with nanomaterials, printing all those things is indeed possible from raw materials.

A more interesting question that will have to be dealt with first is when people come up with ways to manipulate either organic molecules in a procedural fashion with tabletop equipment, or perhaps, more interesting and related, processes for manipulating the genes of common chemical factories - bacteria - to produce useful compounds.

You can define "useful" as you see fit.

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (1)

alen (225700) | about 7 months ago | (#44905351)

the hype seems to be that you can download a design of anything and print it at home instead of going to the store

even star trek with its replicators and idiotic no money economy skipped the part of the raw materials for the replicators having to be made somehow. sure you can replicate anything, but you need an expensive machine and the right raw materials

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905565)

There are many known ways to polymerize cellulose nanocrystals. Some are quite (in)famous, like Nitrocellulose. It's entirely possible to produce the equivalent of the inkjet+ink model for 3d printed home "cotton" products, where you sell the printer at a discount, then sell the special reagent + refined nanocrystalline cellulose material packs at a premium, as long as the total economy is still better than buying clothing made by sweatshop laborers in Bangladesh.

(As for the star trek replicator thing, some of the extended cannon says that the raw materials for the replicators arent magically created at all, but come about from essentially a special transporter system that reclaims all the complex organic molecules from the waste disposal system. Rather than beam the mass energy from point A to point B exactly as it was arranged previously, it beams it from point A to point B in a neatly sorted and segregated storage system.) There is even a slight reference to this on a DS9 episode, where sisko's kid says he is going to take some old items to be reclimated. When you have copious amounts of disposable energy to throw around, the processing requirements arent as important.)

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 7 months ago | (#44905627)

sure you can replicate anything, but you need an expensive machine and the right raw materials

Star Trek canon is pretty sparse about "right raw materials", but the consensus seems to be that replication feedstock is some kind of bulk inert matter. (I don't understand why they don't just skip that and just directly use the energy equivalent).

However "expensive" isn't guaranteed. You'd just need one replicator and a feedstock source to replicate every other replicator you'd ever want... so only the first would be expensive.

If you're arguing there's some natural scarcity in (entirely fictional) replication technology, it's not a strong argument in light of the few sources I've seen. I think the stronger argument would be artificial scarcity: replicators with embedded restrictions preventing replication of replicators or replicator parts, for instance, or requiring a certain proprietary unobtainium as the feedstock, or heavy heavy DRM over replication patterns.

Certainly, that's how the the MPAA, the RIAA, and the Ferengi would do it.

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 7 months ago | (#44905823)

Filabot [kickstarter.com] - a machine that takes your recyclable plastic and converts it into filament that your 3D printer uses. Even uses your old printed objects as well.

So now you're saving the planet too!

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 7 months ago | (#44905341)

When i first heard of 3D printing, my mind lit on fire with the possibilities. Need a custom shim, PRINT IT. Lost a plastic part to something? PRINT IT! My absolute first thought was to design a holder for my Apple TV that will hook on to the vent holes in the back of my TV and suspend the ATV right below the bottom of the TV. An Apple TV holster, if you will. Do you look at a CNC mill and say 'can i lathe a baby with this?'

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 7 months ago | (#44905865)

You know how many people make backup copies of software and movies in case they lose the original media? (yes I know, physical media is dead! Long live physical media!)

I see people now going to also scan in the pieces of whatever they bought so that when something breaks, they can just print out a replacement on the spot.

OOOORRRRR really good companies actually provide you with the 3D design for the parts directly. Saves them materials,inventory and shipping costs for the few people who need replacements.

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905419)

or new toilet paper?

I print off IP laws on my regular printer for that.

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (1)

mi (197448) | about 7 months ago | (#44905447)

can i print clothes or shoes for my kids on a 3d printer?

For years cheap knock-offs of designer clothes and footwear have been available at a fraction of the "real thing" prices. 3D-printing does not introduce the problem — it only makes it worse. Worse for the people, who design stuff.

Some new way of rewarding them would have to be created, or else the designers will have to switch professions...

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 7 months ago | (#44905539)

And not to mention what's economically and quality-wise feasible. Bits are easy, my digital bits are perfect copies and cost $0 (not including the cost of the hardware, but I'd need the hardware to store and run/play it anyway). I suspect a lot of the time the question would be "yeah, you could do that but it's cheaper to buy one that came off a barge from China". Imagine printing your own books on your home ink printer. Yes, you could do it but if you really want it on dead tree it'll be cheaper to buy it from a bookstore (retail or etail)

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (1)

Andrio (2580551) | about 7 months ago | (#44905673)

Probably not, but you can print out a copyright toy of Wolverine for your kid.

Re:what exactly can you print on these? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905873)

"or new toilet paper?"

Ten years from now you will be able to print used toilet paper as well.

3D is overkill (2)

Thud457 (234763) | about 7 months ago | (#44905109)

Surely you only need a common 2-D printer to print IP laws.

Re:3D is overkill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905151)

Laws that cover something that doesn't exist are meaningless.

There is NO such thing as Intellectual Property.

Ideas, once shared, belong to the person sharing and the person shared with, end of discussion.

Re:3D is overkill (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 7 months ago | (#44905303)

Ideas, once shared, belong to the person sharing and the person shared with...

...either of which may decide to share it further.

Re:3D is overkill (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905383)

"End of discussion" means "Please don't ask me to think any more"

Re:3D is overkill (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 7 months ago | (#44905583)

Well, yes and no. Current copies are relatively expensive. I could photocopy the latest bestseller but it would be cheaper to just by the book. So we use copiers because we want a article from a library journal – copying the key parts by hand is time consuming – and time is money.

If you notice there is more pirating of e-books then paper books – the cost of making copies is lower.

So, back to 3d printers which are not cheap to run. You want to find classes of objects that have a high value relative to the printing costs. . Spare parts, bobble head dolls and warhammer figurines come to mind.

ok, no worries then (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#44905135)

'Everything will change when you can make anything. Future sales may be of designs and not products.'

ok, so still a long time from now then.

Re:ok, no worries then (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 7 months ago | (#44905293)

Actually, I believe that changes will occur much faster than most people are anticipating. This has the potential, and I believe will, be completely disruptive technology.

Re:ok, no worries then (1)

Feyshtey (1523799) | about 7 months ago | (#44905545)

Disruptive to who? The company that enjoys selling you multiple iterations of the same device produced from shitty materials that continually breaks on you?

Re:ok, no worries then (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 7 months ago | (#44905601)

Future sales will be of raw materials needed to fab things. Designs are digital files, which already cost nothing to copy.

Depends (1)

djupedal (584558) | about 7 months ago | (#44905149)

If they go the route of chipped HDMi cables going forward and check outputs based on enforced regulations. There is still time to do this, not that I'd be a fan.

Re:Depends (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 7 months ago | (#44905361)

There is still time to do this, not that I'd be a fan.

No. There isn't. The cat's already out of the bag on this one. 3D printers can be built by any DIY-er with a handful of tools, some simple circuitry, and parts you can pick up at your local hardware store.

DRM is a piece of cake with 3D stuff... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905485)

I can see laws passed, via an ACTA or WIPO-like treaty that would force all 3D printers to only accept signed files, and it would be some clearinghouse that only allows certain people to have signed files for certain printers, likely with a very expensive barrier to entry.

A simple law banning ownership of 3D printers unless they had a DRM stack would do the trick. Already, to retrieve existing printers, it just takes finding people with who are in any database for ordering them or parts, then getting a search warrant, similar to how California bypasses the fourth amendment whey they go do their gun seizure raids.

People laugh at laws, but there is a tendency to arrest now in the US (and thus make the private prisons happy), then sort out laws. And making a DRM stack that disallows all but signed binaries is trivially easy.

Repeal them, hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905163)

N/T

It may cause problems like Xerox (3, Informative)

jader3rd (2222716) | about 7 months ago | (#44905191)

One of the stories that get told around the financial crisis is how the relationship between Rating Agencies and Investment Banks changed because of Xerox. Before Xerox rating agencies would charge investment banks for copies of their data. But once Xerox copying machines came out, the rating agencies feared that they would only have one customer and investment banks would just make copies of the data and pass it around. So they made the data free for all intents and purposes and started charging the banks on how their products got rated. We all know how that turned out.

Right to produce your own (3, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 7 months ago | (#44905197)

Patent law specifically allows people to "make their own" based on the patented design. You aren't allowed to produce the items for sale or distribution, but you are allowed to make one for yourself.

This is where patent law and 3D printers are really going to collide, because 3D printing makes it easy to make your own.

One might be able to argue that the model used to do the printing is "distributing the design", but it's not illegal to distribute a patented design, only to produce the designed items for sale.

Re:Right to produce your own (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 7 months ago | (#44905287)

I expect someone will try to extend copyright law to cover CAD models used to drive the printers, but I also expect that attempt to fail because copyright isn't allowed to cover a list of facts, only a creative work.

Re:Right to produce your own (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 7 months ago | (#44905491)

hmm? copyright law already covers files. that includes cad files, stl files and whatever.

but the functionality for most items is easy to copy into a new cad design and only one guy needs to do it.

Re:Right to produce your own (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 7 months ago | (#44905835)

I expect someone will try to extend copyright law to cover CAD models used to drive the printers, but I also expect that attempt to fail because copyright isn't allowed to cover a list of facts, only a creative work.

That'd be a real mindblower: Patenting a design and copyrighting the patent. So as to prevent copying the design allowing another to replicate the product. Not that weirder legal gymnastics haven't been attempted and sometimes successfully performed.

Re:Right to produce your own (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905621)

Patent US law actually protects against making, using, or selling an invention.

Re:Right to produce your own (1)

MassiveForces (991813) | about 7 months ago | (#44905751)

I guess we will get to know what it feels like to be Chinese, and just take pictures of the things we want produced :o)

At least it will be more environmentally friendly printing tidbits at home than having them manufactured, packaged and imported from overseas and the overstock dumped.

They can still compete on price (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 7 months ago | (#44905283)

Even when home manufacturing will become affordable (at this point 3D printing is only good for fragile plastic toys and CNCs cost a fortune), mass production will still be much cheaper. The result will be the opposite of the prediction: designs will worth less because of piracy, but manufactured goods will still sell because they will cost less.

Re:They can still compete on price (1)

devjoe (88696) | about 7 months ago | (#44905423)

But only where there is enough of a market. If you're making and selling tens of thousands of a product, then mass production can work. If you can only sell a hundred of something, or less, the costs in mass producing it and the risk in producing something you may not be able to sell may shift the price advantage to 3D printing.

there is a precedent for that (2)

pesho (843750) | about 7 months ago | (#44905309)

"With scanners able turn objects into printable files and peer-to-peer file sharing sites able to distribute product schematics, 3D printing could make intellectual property laws impossible or impractical to enforce. At the Inside 3D Printing Conference in San Jose this week, industry experts compared the rise of 3D printing to digital music and Napster. Private equity consultant Peer Munck noted that once users start sharing CAD files with product designs, manufacturers may be forced to find legal and legislative avenues to prevent infringement. But, he also pointed out that it's nearly impossible to keep consumers from printing whatever they want in the privacy of their homes. IP attorney John Hornick said, 'Everything will change when you can make anything. Future sales may be of designs and not products.'"

Let's see if we can do tongue-in-cheek test of this statement by replacing "make" and "print" with "brew", and "peer-to-peer file sharing service" with "US postal service"

"With people able to write down brewing recipes and US postal service able to distribute those recipes, home brewing could make intellectual property laws impossible or impractical to enforce. At the Inside brewing Conference in San Jose this week, industry experts compared the rise of home brewing to digital music and Napster. Private equity consultant Peer Munck noted that once users start sharing recipes with brewing procedures, industrial brewers may be forced to find legal and legislative avenues to prevent infringement. But, he also pointed out that it's nearly impossible to keep consumers from brewing whatever they want in the privacy of their homes. IP attorney John Hornick said, 'Everything will change when you can brew anything. Future sales may be of recipes and not alcohol.'"

Unless alcohol sales US are suffering terribly from the advent of home brewing, the statement of this lawyer is a bag full of sh*t aimed at creating legislature that will only benefit IP lawyers.

It will enshrine them. (1)

Valdrax (32670) | about 7 months ago | (#44905323)

When the manufacture of goods becomes a matter of popping someone's design in a scanner, sharing it over the web, and then letting others print it at home, IP will become even more critical to business than it is today. Businesses will not simply limply waggle their hands in the air and moan in impotent, melodramatic depression if piracy of physical goods becomes possible. They will lobby. Hard.

You think the eternal extension of copyright is bad with just the entertainment industry behind it? You haven't seen anything yet. If IP becomes king of all property law, then IP will rule it.

We live in a World of Survilance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905329)

The IP Laws won't really change. Since you are 24/7 under survilance it's pretty easy to enforce IP, the moment you download a shematic or finished printing it you'll get an E-Mail saying either Pay up or get sued.

Re:We live in a World of Survilance (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 7 months ago | (#44905603)

Your comment rings suspiciously like the rantings of a paranoid.

Of course in public anything goes, but you'd be very hard pressed to substantiate that people are under 24/7 surveillance even when they are in private, and not utilizing any kind of network connectivity.

Re:We live in a World of Survilance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905681)

What is "Survilance" or "shematic"?

Design Industry Association of America (4, Insightful)

Simon Brooke (45012) | about 7 months ago | (#44905355)

Designs, like MP3s, are digital data which is by nature infinitely reproducible. You can only build an industry on selling designs if you introduce legally sanctioned mechanisms of artificial scarcity. Which means a bunch of lawyers will get together calling themselves the Design Industry Association of America. They will argue for a tax on raw plastic, to be paid to them; and will sue anyone they think might have a 3D printer stashed away in the attic. Of course they won't actually have any connection with real designers any more than the Recording Industry Association of America has any connection with real musicians, but that doesn't matter because as everyone knows it's the lawyers who get to keep all the money. They are, after all, the only people (apart from bankers) who actually add value in this economy.

Cynical? Moi?

Sure... if what you're making is a hunk of plastic (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 7 months ago | (#44905409)

Most things that I spend real money on are composed of multiple different substances, not just fixed piece of plastic that can be reproduced by injection moulding (not that injection moulding is particularly cheap, but I'm just saying that the bulk of things that I spend money on are fully assembled objects made of many parts and materials and would not be practical for the current regime of home 3d printers).

Re:Sure... if what you're making is a hunk of plas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905651)

Current consumer end printers only use plastic, but other materials are already possible now. Here's a link the materials available for one of the online 3D printing services. Again, presently You can only choose one material at a time. My point is that printing complex objects with multiple materials, for example an Ipad, will be possible.
http://www.shapeways.com/materials?li=nav

Re:Sure... if what you're making is a hunk of plas (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 7 months ago | (#44905757)

Possible, perhaps... but not remotely practical for the foreseeable future.

Re:Sure... if what you're making is a hunk of plas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905899)

Well, I'd say that depends on Your definition of "forseeable future". It's not going to happen in the next few years to be sure. I would speculate that its quite likely in the next few decades however.

Put it in perspective (3, Informative)

jbeaupre (752124) | about 7 months ago | (#44905413)

Take a look at the patents. And take a look at the stuff around you. How much of the stuff around you is patented and amenable to being 3d printed? And what fraction do you believe you could put together cheaper and more conveniently?

Let's take a look at a stapler. $5 from Amazon. I'm sure it was patented at one time. Let's pretend it still is. Even with the best 3-d printing today, using million dollar machines, you're not going to be able to make a good one. So let's assume the machines get good enough and cheap enough you could make a stapler at home. How about the staples? Ok fine, let's assume you can make those too.

You want to go through the trouble of making the parts and assembling? Oh, you've got a cheap machine that can make it from multiple materials and even does some of the post processing?

Congratulations. It's 2050 and you've made a stapler that could be bought for $5 in 2013 from Amazon. And now Amazon has it for $1 because they own a better machine that runs 24/7 and buys more varieties of materials at lower cost. And the patent ran out decades ago.

Next up, a microwave oven. Or car tire. Or tv remote.

3D printing is going to be a problem for only a very few items. Not the vast majority of stuff you use or is patented. Economies of scale will make even those items impractical to knock off. It'll be decades before it becomes even a miniscule problem. Why are we getting in a tizzy now worrying about it?

What does a patent protect? (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 7 months ago | (#44905441)

I think in the eyes of the founders when they created the patent office, the idea that one man owned the product of his labor was never to be infringed. Rather, it was to prevent companies from stealing ideas, and providing them so that they competed against the inventor', and allowing the inventor to profit from his effort. It was realized back then that you could not prevent a man from copying a plow (first US patent ever) that he observed in use or by reading the patent by his own effort.

Similarly, I don't see how patents should even apply to 3D printing, since people making things for themselves is a natural right, a right far exceeding any legislative "right" or privilege granted by the government. The idea that a company can stop you from producing something yourself for your own use, is a very chilling idea. So far the most realistic real-world example of that is Monsanto, which can prohibit farmers from replanting seeds. However this is done under a specific license contract, which is agreed to by both parties.

The OP also has a bit of fancy about it. Not everything can be 3D printed. Metals need particular traits that can't be achieved by sintering. Not all plastics are printable as well. Eventually engineers will learn to engineer for non-3d printable materials, so that replacement 3D printed parts aren't feasible. And I would postulate that if you're using 3D printable parts, then your design isn't all that patent-able.

Changes in technology always affects society. (1)

jacobsm (661831) | about 7 months ago | (#44905453)

Laws have to change as technology makes them obsolete. That's not to say that people who have an interest in living in the past won't kick, scream and bribe their congress critters, but eventually they'll lose.

From Heinlein's Life-Line;

There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.

Two points (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905481)

Society of 7.5 billion people, is more innovative than what a bunch of non creatives want us to believe.
In the world of seeders and leechers, lawyers are leechers, they contribute nothing and download your money

What are you going to print? (1)

grumbel (592662) | about 7 months ago | (#44905495)

I doubt that home 3D printers will ever be a serious danger for regular products. A user might print a case for his iPhone or something like that, but even the most simplistically functional objects tend to be far beyond what a home 3D printer can do. Even when a 3D printer can compete, it's often more expensive then the same product done regularly somewhere in China and shipped over here.

I think the copyright with 3D printings won't be with the big manufacturers, but within the realm of the hacker/maker crowd itself, people taking each others design without following the license and stuff that like. Wouldn't surprise me if some Chinese company would start mass producing a popular object without paying royalties either. But that's basically the same set of problems we already have with Open Source, music, films and even Youtube videos.

In general I consider home 3D printing rather overhyped, there is only so much plastic crap you can print and most people won't have any use for a personal 3D printer. Outside of the home, 3D printers are for more interesting, be it to create rocket parts or organ replacements, but your home printer won't ever be capable of that.

Ubiquitous 3D Printing? (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 7 months ago | (#44905535)

There won't be any Ubiquitous 3D Printing.
I don't doubt that many of the /. crowd will someday soon own a 3D printer. But the general population? Not going to happen.
I am just about a geeky as you can get, and not get beaten up for your lunch money as an adult, and I want a 3D printer. But I am not sure why I want one.
Off the top of my head i can think of half a dozen things I could and probably would use a 3D printer to make. But that is the problem. After those items are made, I just can't think of anything else I would want/need to make.

I wonder if at some point there will be 3D printing shops, of perhaps somewhere you can send your file, and have the printed object sent to you. That might work. But Ubiquitous 3D Printing, I very much doubt it will ever happen.

Who enforces against one-offs? (1)

Artagel (114272) | about 7 months ago | (#44905557)

Yes, but what patented objects can be just scanned in and printed? I can't really thing of any significant ones. An iPhone? A pharmaceutical? Could they print a Teddy bear? And that's not patented. And if you could (at all), could you do it at a reasonable price? One has to think that the manufacturer's cost of making it will always by X/4 or so.

That's easy: It will make them worse (1)

tippe (1136385) | about 7 months ago | (#44905575)

At least, that's what happened with copyright laws as a result of ubiquitous A/V recording...

Manufacurers? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 7 months ago | (#44905607)

They will have no recourse, since it is the product designers and developers who own the IP. If they share it with the consumer directly, too bad manufacturer, you've become obsolete.

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44905905)

it's nearly impossible to keep consumers from printing whatever they want in the privacy of their homes.
followed by
Future sales may be of designs and not products.

so IP law|*suits|*yers will define the future?
how come i don't see pattern for *)profit in here?
other than feeding the system that bites the hand.

news at...

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