Tag Archives: copyright
Legal Expert Michael Weinberg Explores the Implications of More Accessible and Inexpensive 3D Scanners
This is a guest post by Michael Weinberg, whose bio is at the end of the article.
Q: Will 3D Scanners Usher in a New Era of Copyright Infringement?
Tied into our current 3D printing boom is a second, equally interesting one: an explosion of accessible 3D scanners. As you may be able to guess from the name, 3D scanners can take physical objects and turn them into digital files. Once you have digitized an object you can modify it, share it over the internet, and/or print it out with a 3D printer.
Like 3D printers, 3D scanners are not new technology. Companies have been making expensive, high quality scanners for years. These scanners could be used to quickly create digital replicas of things like buildings, entire neighborhoods, or even fossilized whale bones that are accurate down to the centimeter (or millimeter). But, also like 3D printers, recent years have started to see low cost, pretty-good scanners enter the market.
There huge variety in these scanners. Microsoft’s Kinect has been hacked and turned into a 3D scanner. 123D Catch from Autodesk can turn a series of regular, 2D photographs into a 3D model. Makerbot has released their own 3D scanner (well, sort of their second 3D scanner), and Kickstarter is chock-a-block full of handheld 3D scanners, desktop 3D scanners, and dongles that turn your phone or tablet into a 3D scanner. Back in 2011 we even did a podcast interview with the inventor of Trimensional, an iPhone app that used light from the iPhone’s own screen to create a 3D model.
All of which is to say that pretty soon anyone who wants access to a reasonably high quality 3D scanner will have one. In fact, anyone with a smart phone in their pocket will have one whether they want it or not.
Most people will see this as an exciting opportunity. Imagine if on your next vacation, instead of just taking a picture of yourself next to the Elgin Marbles you scan them so you can print them out at home. Or going to a botanical garden, scanning a bouquet worth of flowers, and mixing them into a 3D printed statue for your sweetheart. Being able to capture the world in 3D will present us all with incredible opportunities.
Of course, some people will see this new technology as a crisis. They will worry that being able to copy objects means being able to copy objects without permission. And that could mean infringing on copyright (of course in many cases the objects being copied will not actually be protected by copyright, but let’s set that aside right over here for now). They will conclude that this type of technology is just too dangerous to be freely available, and insist on some combination of digital and legal restrictions that make it much less useful and much easier to control.
A Dumb Response
This type of response is, in a word, dumb. Yes, it is true that 3D scanners can copy physical objects. And it is true that some of those physical objects will be protected by copyright (or patent). And, furthermore, it is true that some of those protected objects will be copied without permission, therefore infringing on their respective copyrights and patents.
But that alone is not enough to build a case to restrict them. After all, you can say pretty much the same thing about digital 2D cameras. Digital cameras make copies of all sorts of copyright-protected things every day. Many of those copies are made without permission. And, at least on some level, that is a problem.
But no one would suggest that the correct response to that problem is to build limitations into digital cameras. Or hold digital camera manufacturers responsible for copyright infringement. There is no reason to treat 3D scanners any differently.
So enjoy those 3D scanners. Use them responsibly. Or at least as responsibly as you use your 2D camera. And if someone starts freaking out about how 3D scanners will somehow mean the end of intellectual property as we know it, tell them to take a deep breath. Sit them down. Scan their face. Turn it into a 3D printed mug and fill that mug with whatever liquid you think will best help them to relax.
About the author: Michael Weinberg is a Vice President at Public Knowledge, a public interest advocacy group focused on digital issues based in Washington, DC.
- Radiant Fabrication Wants to Be the iTunes of 3D Printing
- Fuel3D Handheld 3D Scanner Closes in on $300,000 Kickstarter Funding
- MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner Goes On Sale for $1400, Video from Bre
- 3D Scanning for 3D Printing: How Kickstarter is Changing the Game
- Video: Burning Man Team Offers 3D Prints of Burners in the Desert
- Do The Mutation: 3D Printed Masks Take Art to a New Level of Personal
- The MakerBot Met Hackathon Spreads with Art Derivations
3D printing has hype and controversy, but what about adoption?
This is a guest post by UK-based Laser Lines Ltd, whose bio is at the end of the article.
Earlier this year it was announced that Maplin Electronics would be the first UK retailer to stock a home 3D printer. With all the hype and controversy surrounding this technology, it’s left many wondering if 3D printers will be the next big gadget to make their way into every home.
3D printing is the process of printing layers of material, usually plastic, on-top of one another to build up a 3D object. The Velleman K8200, which retails at £700, allows customers to 3D print any object they want from the comfort of their home, from a chess piece to mobile phone case. The plastics come in red, black, white, orange, green, yellow and pink, costing £30 for 1kg of the resin. Certainly an interesting addition to any home office but isn’t this a rather expensive way of reproducing items that would ordinarily cost just a few pounds?
The idea of everyday consumers being able to access 3D printers has already caused controversy in the US following the announcement of printable handgun blueprints online. The handgun, which would have been made from plastic if successfully produced in this way, could have gone undetected by standard security scanner.
Another widespread concern about 3D printers in the home is the likelihood of copyright infringement through the reproduction of products. Users would potentially be able to produce a 3D scan of a product and then using this scan blueprint re-create the object precisely at home.
Outside of the home however, 3D printing technology has been having far greater success. Manufacturers are able to benefit from quick prototype production, enabling sketched concepts to be swiftly tried and tested. The aerospace industry has already started producing fully functional parts via 3D print technology too, with NASA known for their frequent use of the procedure to make lightweight engine and shuttle parts. 3D printing has the potential to completely transform production supply chains, particularly when it comes to producing small parts that would have usually been shipped from one manufacturer to another.
There are incredible medical implications of this printing process too. Professionals believe that, ultimately, 3D printers could be produced to print living materials in place of plastics. Layering cells alongside a medical scaffolding substance called hydrogel, it should be possible to print the basis of human organs such as a liver or kidney, before leaving them to grown into the fully formed structure. Soon it will also be possible to print sophisticated human tissue specifically for pharmaceutical testing – which means risk free clinical testing and trials (though again a hugely controversial idea).
In conclusion, perhaps 3D printers will see their way into the homes of those who can afford such a novelty, but for the time being the real advantages will be found in manufacturing on professional scale machines. Even then 3D printing has a long way to go before it’s embraced by everyone.
About the author: This article is written by UK-based Laser Lines Ltd, a bespoke 3D printing company that have been providing 3D printing solutions for over 20 years. Visit their website to browse through their collection.
In the PBS video below, the 3D printing industry is profiled.
3D Printing is heralded as a revolutionary and disruptive technology, but how will these printers truly affect our society? Beyond an initial novelty, 3D Printing could have a game-changing impact on consumer culture, copyright and patent law, and even the very concept of scarcity on which our economy is based. From at-home repairs to new businesses, from medical to ecological developments, 3D Printing has an undeniably wide range of possibilities which could profoundly change our world.
The video includes interviews with:
- Sam Cervantes from Solidoodle on innovation
- Carine Carmy from Shapeways on supply chain disruption
- Michael Weinberg from Public Knowledge on copyright and IP
- Joseph Flaherty from Wired.com on bioprinting and more
Watch the full video below.
Designer and co-founder of Nervous System, Jessica Rosencrantz, was surprised to learn that some of her fashion designs were being sold on 3DLT. Wired interviewed Rosencrantz:
“They never contacted us,” she says. “I had never heard of them until someone sent me the link last night to ask me if it was legitimate.”
The designs at issue are five of 3DLT’s fashion offerings (until recently, the entire fashion category). “They changed the names and descriptions but are using our images,” says Rosencrantz, “They claim to have the STL files for these designs, but I guarantee they do not. The last design they show — ‘circle necklace’ (our name ‘Radiolaria Necklace’) — isn’t even 3-D printed.”
Today, 3DLT CEO Pablo Arellano Jr. issued an apology on the site.
3DLT.com is currently in private beta. The site is not yet live and we are still testing the platform. We recently had an issue where the eCommerce portion of our site was activated and exposed to the public. Some of the products and images on the site were being used as placeholders and were not approved for use. These products and images have been removed from our site. Two orders were placed. The users have been contacted, informed of the issue and will be refunded any monies due.
We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. We take this situation seriously and will ensure that upon launch, all of our designer onboarding processes are clearly documented and available for public viewing, including our process for vetting design files.
We apologize again for any inconvenience and have put the site on hold until our development team fixes the matter.
A roundup of the top news On 3D Printing brought you from January 29 to February 2.
Tuesday, January 29