Prop Wars: Can Paramount Prevent People From Offering Up Plans To 3D Print Movie Props?
from the freedom-to-build dept
It wasn’t difficult to predict that this was coming. Late last year, we noted that it was only a matter of time until certain industries started to freak out about 3D printing, and how it would allow people to print physical items that others would claim “infringed” on original works. And, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that it’s the entertainment industry that is the first to freak out. We had already noted that Gene Roddenberry’s son was claiming that anyone who did a 3D printing of a Star Trek prop was infringing his rights (kinda ironic, given the nature of the Replicator device in the Star Trek universe…).
However, Paramount Pictures, a subsidiary of Viacom, has taken this even further. The studio apparently sent a cease-and-desist to Todd Blatt, a mechanical engineer, who has been making 3D printable models of various movie props, sending them off to the popular 3D printing service Shapeways, and offering up the products. In this case, Paramount freaked out that he was offering a 3D printed version of the weird cube-like figure in the movie Super 8.
Obviously, the creator of such a product might run into trouble depending on how the technology is packaged. “Bring home a character from Transformers” might imply a false endorsement. “Look like Angelina Jolie” might constitute a violation of the actress’ publicity rights. But copyright? Is a physical re-creation of an object on-screen a derivative?
It definitely seems like a stretch, but if the entertainment industry is good at anything these days, it’s stretching the meaning of copyright laws. While nothing more is likely to happen in this case, you can rest assured that this issue isn’t going away, and there will almost certainly be court cases in the near future.