We've been discussing 3D printing
for over a decade, including warning
that some of the disrupted companies/industries are likely to go ballistic and talk about how they're being "robbed" by this form of competition. Hopefully, enough people realize this is crazy, but it seems doubtful. Take a look at this NY Times article about the legal questions surrounding 3D printing
, and note that the author seems surprised
that it's mostly legal to make a copy of something using a 3D printer:
Suppose you covet a lovely new mug at a friend’s house. So you snap a few pictures of it. Software renders those photos into designs that you use to print copies of the mug on your home 3-D printer.
Did you break the law by doing this? You might think so, but surprisingly, you didn’t....
When I posed my mug scenario to Mr. Weinberg, he responded: “If you took that mug and went to a pottery class and remade it, would you be asking me the same questions about breaking a copyright law? No.” Just because new tools arrive, like 3-D printers and digital files that make it easier to recreate an object, he said, it doesn’t mean people break the law when using them.
Of course, that's not quite the whole story. There may be trademark/patent issues to deal with separately. But, more importantly, given what we've seen of lots of industries in the past, the incumbents are going to fight long and hard to claim exactly the opposite: that such uses of 3D printing are entirely illegal. Hopefully, they'll fail, but there's almost certainly going to be a series of long and drawn out cases, leaving us at the mercy of a judge recognizing the statements above are correct.