This is a bit of a follow to some ongoing posts about 3D printing… Pirate file-sharing goes 3D @ New Scientist:
Tony Rodriguez, who works for Oregon-based digital watermarking firm Digimarc says that valid 3D files could be marked by subtly altering the 3D design without changing the printed object. This would let a 3D printer distinguish between a manufacturer’s file, which contains the alteration, and one made by scanning an object, which does not.
Perhaps such techniques will not be relevant. Michael Weinberg, staff attorney for Washington-based intellectual property (IP) advocacy groupPublic Knowledge, says that while text, music and video are automatically copyrighted, “the vast majority of physical objects aren’t protected by any sort of IP right”. Copying inventions protected by patents is illegal, as is replicating a trademarked logo, but measuring a desk and building a replica is not.
Panicking companies may push for stronger IP laws if 3D printing becomes more widespread, but Weinberg says this would be a mistake. He suggests companies learn from the media industry’s mistakes and embrace the new opportunities it affords, perhaps by encouraging the legal downloading of object files. “If everyone has access to a 3D printer I can go online, pick an object that I want, customise it and print it out,” he says. “That’s an incredible opportunity for companies.” They will not want to miss the boat again.
Begun the Clone War has.