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What Will Ubiquitous 3D Printing Do To IP Laws? 347

Posted by Soulskill
from the that-vase-is-cute,-snap-a-pic-to-we-can-print-it-later dept.
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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What Will Ubiquitous 3D Printing Do To IP Laws?

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  • Impractical? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Friday September 20, 2013 @01:52PM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Friday September 20, 2013 @01:59PM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by davidannis (939047) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:23PM (#44905517) Homepage

        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? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by smpoole7 (1467717) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:30PM (#44905623) Homepage

          > 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? (Score:5, Informative)

            by alexander_686 (957440) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:41PM (#44905775)

            On a side note, BMW is increasing its use of 3d printers to print out parts due to complexity or ticks that can be done with 3d printers. In the 3d market manufactures is one of the fastest growing categories.

            http://www.economist.com/news/technology-quarterly/21584447-digital-manufacturing-there-lot-hype-around-3d-printing-it-fast [economist.com]

            • Re:Impractical? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by NatasRevol (731260) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:35PM (#44906461) Journal

              Yeah, the whole point is that everyone becomes a manufacturer.

              The problem with this is that it will never be 'free' or close to free. Printing has never been cheap. And that was just ink and paper.

              Why does everyone think that printing in plastic/metal at a usable structural level isn't going to be orders of magnitude more expensive that buying something wholesale, for at least a generation? Like how it took almost 20 years for laser printers to become common at home.

            • Re:Impractical? (Score:5, Informative)

              by cdrudge (68377) on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:17PM (#44906867) Homepage

              Saying that BMW is printing out parts is stretching what they are actually doing. They are printing out tools, jigs, and fixtures that are used in the assembly process. If they used a block of wood to spread the force out of a jack during assembly, you wouldn't say that the manufacturer was making wooden parts.

              BMWâ(TM)s assembly-line workers design and print custom tools to make it easier to hold and position parts. 3D-printed plastic moulds and dies are also being printed to help set up and trial new production lines. Some of these printed parts are even used as temporary stand-ins for broken steel tools, which can take weeks to replace.

          • by jythie (914043)
            Well, that depends on just how good the fabricators get. Right now any shop with the right tools could duplicate a car piece by piece, but such a setup is both expensive and requires specialized training.. not to mention the process of mixing and matching requires extensive domain knowledge. The assumption people are generally making is that someday 3d printers will bring the cost and skill level down to the point any neighborhood shop can do it, but this is not a very safe assumption.

            Time for the car an
          • by steelfood (895457)

            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.

            I take it you've never spent any time in Asia before.

      • 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.

      • 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 fib
      • by Bert64 (520050)

        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? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mspohr (589790) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:47PM (#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? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by internerdj (1319281) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:49PM (#44905889)
            This is probably a bigger deal for the manufacturer than you actually being able to download and print the entire car.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            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.

            It may be $1 worth of plastic, but if this specific part fails on, say 0.3% of the cars that use that it, you are looking at a nationwide market of a few hundred units per year. The injection mold for that part cost $15K. Restarting a production

        • Volume discounts (Score:4, Insightful)

          by sjbe (173966) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:49PM (#44906599)

          If it became cheaper to build a car, then i would expect the prices of ready-built cars to drop accordingly.

          It will almost certainly never be cheaper to print your own than to buy one made by Ford or Toyota. The materials alone would cost more than the car in the quantities you could buy them in. Volume discounts when you are talking millions of units a year are enormous. The per-unit production cost to a big auto company for a comparable vehicle is going to be far, far lower than any one off, even if there is no profit motive attached. (Disclosure: I am an accountant)

          Unless you are talking about luxury cars, they aren't priced "artificially high". Even the most profitable auto makers (Porsche, Toyota, etc) only have profit margins in the high single digits. They make money by selling a LOT of vehicles but they don't generally make all that much on each one. A few luxury makes make a lot of money per vehicle (Ferrari, etc) but they don't and can't sell all that many at the price points they charge.

      • by Lashat (1041424)

        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

      • People still get to vote. When people figure out that they can print their own BMWs if they vote for the right people, they might actually get off their ass and do it. The whole mechanism of procuring lobbying money as a politician is contingent upon keeping your position of power by getting more votes than any other candidate in elections.
      • by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:51PM (#44905925)
        We can just print out a new internet.
    • I thought intellectual property laws were already impossible or impractical to enforce.
      • For bits, yes. For atoms, it's been much easier, because of the resources needed to duplicate intellectual property that is embodied in actual matter. But with 3D printing, atoms are becoming more like bits.

    • 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?

    • by Krishnoid (984597) *
      Some industries [schlockmercenary.com] and their customers may have less of an issue with the intellectual property side of this.
    • Re:Impractical? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by AK Marc (707885) on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:15PM (#44906839)
      "What Will Ubiquitous 3D Printing Do To IP Laws?"

      Same thing they did with printing presses and CDs. Increase the laws, and turn contractual disputes into felonies so the government will work against the rights and desires of the citizens to enforce profit by law.
  • by alen (225700) on Friday September 20, 2013 @01:54PM (#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?

    • 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

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 c

    • by xtal (49134)

      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 manipul

      • by alen (225700)

        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

        • by idontgno (624372)

          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 wo

        • 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!
      • If you extrapolate just a little bit...

        You lost me.
        http://xkcd.com/605/ [xkcd.com]

    • 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?'
      • 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 replaceme
    • by mi (197448)

      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...

      • For years cheap knock-offs of designer clothes and footwear have been available at a fraction of the "real thing" prices.

        And you know what? GOOD designers are still THRIVING despite having no IP laws protecting them...

        People buy knock offs to 'look' cool, and when they can afford the Prada bag...they tend to buy it.

        this will HELP people who design things by making them better and faster at it. If not, then they go out of business...which is sort what business is about no?

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Only when the "Real thing" prices are massively inflated related to the production costs...
        It's possible to get generic high quality clothes for considerably less than the cost of designer clothes, and possible to get low quality clothes for even less still.
        Designer clothes, assuming they are high quality, should not be significantly more expensive than unbranded clothes manufactured to a similar quality level.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      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

    • by Andrio (2580551)

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

    • Just wait till replicators like in Star Trek are perfected..
  • by Thud457 (234763) on Friday September 20, 2013 @01:54PM (#44905109) Homepage Journal
    Surely you only need a common 2-D printer to print IP laws.
    • 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

      • warhammer figurines

        Bad example as these were the target of lawsuits already :) Somebody uploaded warhammer-esque figurines to thingiverse and got slapped hard by the copyright holders.

  • '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.

    • 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.

      • by Feyshtey (1523799)
        Disruptive to who? The company that enjoys selling you multiple iterations of the same device produced from shitty materials that continually breaks on you?
        • All the cheap plastic parts that cost $.04 to make, that HomeDepot sells for $9.99, that you can 3D print for $.25 each and have them be better. Yeah, those.

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

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday September 20, 2013 @01:59PM (#44905173) Homepage Journal

    Print me a Lawyerbot! (c:

    Sue me, baby, I can make a million of them!

  • by jader3rd (2222716) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:00PM (#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.
    • by rolfwind (528248)

      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.

      The problem with that assumption was that it would be good enough for banks. But that type of data needs to be up to date to be effective, can't pass around 10 year old files, or even 6 month old - someone could suddenly become a bad investmen

      • by jader3rd (2222716) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:12PM (#44906223)

        I think, if it was that big of an expense, that the rating agencies were gouging, that the major banks would simply have combined together and chartered their own rating agency.

        There's a slight technical problem with starting a new ratings agency. One of the laws passed after the great depression, was that the banks could only purchase securities which had a certain rating. The law mentioned that the rating had to come from one of the top three rating agencies. So while the law didn't specify which rating agency, it created a chicken and egg problem for any upstart rating agency to breaking into the top three.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:01PM (#44905197) Homepage Journal

    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.

    • by msobkow (48369)

      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.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        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.

      • 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.

    • by jbeaupre (752124)

      Bzzzt! Not true
      http://www.bpmlegal.com/patqa.html#1 [bpmlegal.com]

    • 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.
  • 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.

    • by devjoe (88696)
      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.
  • by pesho (843750) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:09PM (#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.

    • by brit74 (831798)
      There's a big difference, though. Brewing still requires learning how to brew, buying hardware, time, and work. Plus, big companies can benefit from economies of scale. Further, the recipes aren't necessarily available. If I wanted to brew a Stella or a Guinness, I'm doubtful that I could create anything that could pass as "close enough". 3D printing is different. 3D printing means putting a design in the machine and waiting for it to print. There's a large gap between brewing and 3d printing that ma
    • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:03PM (#44906103)

      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.

      I agree with you, and I don't really think that brewing beer at home will ever really threaten the industry. After all, you want a cold beer now, not next month . . . Also, I don't need another hobby and I'm lazy.

      However, (some, many?) states actually do have some fairly strict (and odd) laws governing brewing beer at home. Alabama and Mississippi lifted their total bans on the practice just this year. California lets you brew 100 gallons per house, 200 if more than one 21+ year old lives there. You can take it to contests but not sell it. A license is not required. In Iowa, you can bottle beer and remove it from the home to give away, but not charge for it. Actual brewing is not specifically allowed. In Kentucky, you can't give it away or sell it, but you can take it to a bar for a beer judging competition. In New York, you can maybe make beer at home, but certainly not sell it. Possession of homemade beer is not specifically prohibited as an illicit substance. It's a pretty bizarre and tangled web of laws.

  • 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'

  • by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:12PM (#44905355) Homepage Journal

    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?

  • 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).
  • by jbeaupre (752124) on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:15PM (#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?

  • 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 do

  • 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

  • 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 cr

  • 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 any
  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • See: the copyright wars

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:53PM (#44906637) Homepage

    This keeps coming up on Slashdot, and it's mostly a non-issue. The only reason it's an issue now is that hobbyist 3D printers are so crappy that they're used mostly to produce copies of game and movie related decorative items.

    If you use one to make a dashboard knob for a '57 Chevy, there's no IP issue. Design patents are only for 14 years. You can't copyright a functional part, and most functional parts aren't original enough for a utility patent. There's a robust third-party auto parts industry because of this.

    When 3D printing in metal really gets going, it's going to be a Joe Sixpack thing. The same people who own welders will own 3D printers. If you do not presently own at least one power tool, you will probably not have a 3D printer.

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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