Some people ask me what keeps me up at night. One of the answers is Intellectual Property and personal fabrication. At the moment we get about one DMCA Content Notice Take Down request a week at Shapeways.
Michael Weinberg wrote an excellent report titled It Will Be Awesome If They Don’t Screw It Up on this. He writes:
[…] it is critical for today’s 3D printing community, tucked away in garages, hackerspaces, and labs, to keep a vigilant eye on these policy debates as they grow. There will be a time when impacted legacy industries demand some sort of DMCA for 3D printing. If the 3D printing community waits until that day to organize, it will be too late. Instead, the community must work to educate policy makers and the public about the benefits of widespread access. That way, when legacy industries portray 3D printing as a hobby for pirates and scofflaws, their claims will fall on ears too wise to destroy the new new thing.
A casual glance over at Pirate Bay reveals that the number of infringing 3D designs is still limited. I did found a collection of Transformers models which obviously infringe on trademarks owned by Hasbro Inc.
I find it telling that there is a whole page about trademark on a Transformer fan community site.
For a change I do like how Apple explains very clearly on how 3rd parties can use their trademarks and copyright need to be used. I think it is an example on how to cooperate with your community — either commercial or non-commercial.
There is both opportunity and risk involved for the existing manufacturing industry but trying to stop it is not an option. We have seen what happened to the music industry. They are still recovering after decades of litigation and falling revenues. But they never have been able to stop it.