Originally, I had no idea what 3D printing was or how it worked. To me, it seemed like some magical high-tech devise that could only be used by geniuses and was probably going to take over the world (slight exaggeration). I knew that it was a big deal, but I had no idea why or how it even worked. Probably something along these lines:
So when we were offered free 3D printing workshops at uni I was sceptical at first. I figured it would just be super tech savvy students flexing their skills and it was not necessarily a setting I saw myself in (I mean no offence to tech savvy students, it’s just a little intimidating for us less-up-to-date peers). But after a little brain storm with Kurt and Maddy we decided it was in fact the perfect opportunity to create our digital artefact, and it had been sitting in front of us the entire time. Not only could we learn about 3D printing from scratch, we could also document it for our major work. Win-win.
Our first video is not perfect, in fact, it’s far from it. But that does not worry us. We tried our best and we were out of our comfort zone, but the truth is it was our first time both in front and behind a camera, editing, and engaging in 3D printing technology. So the good news is, we can only get better from here.
When it comes to the actual copyright issues in relation to 3D printing, there isn’t anything too definitive yet. 3D printing merges physical with digital and because this technology is still so new and developing its difficult to enforce legitimate laws. Even the basics are blurry. Who owns the work? Is it the person who has the idea? Or the person who designs it? Or is it the person who operates the 3D printer?
Sites such as Thingiverse and other 3D printing file sharing platforms allow people to download, edit and print designs made by people all over the world, as well as uploading your own designs for others to use. If someone uploads an item or file that is protected by copyright, the rights-holders can request to have this item removed, but obviously it is difficult to moderate all platforms and files for copyrighted items. From what I understand, if I were to download a coffee mug design and print it for my own personal use I would be covered by Fair Use laws. However, if I were to start printing multiple cups and sell them, I would then become liable to copyright laws.
Although the copyright lines are still quite blurry for 3D printing, as this technology grows and develops I believe so will the intellectual property laws. These laws obviously hold benefits (the protection of our ideas) but they also carry many disadvantages. I have a bit of a metaphor for how I see copyright’s current stance. Imagine that our creativity, ideas and originality are a plant, and copyright laws are the water. Originally, copyright was created to protect our ideas, nourish them and to help them grow, however it has gotten to such a saturation point that our ideas and freedom to be creative are now being suppressed.