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3D printers make the jump to hyper-space, leaving the law behind


3D printers make the jump to hyper-space, leaving the law behind

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The increasing availability and decreasing cost of 3D printing technology has led to a mushrooming of creativity. It looks likely that 3D printers will soon be in every home.

So how does copyright law keep pace with the technology?

Julie Samuels is the senior staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation: “The copyright laws that we currently have on the books have been on the books literally since the 1970s. It doesn’t make sense for how we use and share things today.”

3D printer cafes are popping up across the developed world. They allow people easy access to printers and to create their own original designs. Even the US is still to address the issues raised by 3D printers.

Julie Samuels continues: “The state of the laws and then the people who are trying to tighten up copyright law and in some instances tighten up patent law too, those efforts to tighten the laws would impact 3D printing. They would make it harder for people to print things at home, they would make it harder for more people to make new 3D printers and come up with new 3D printing technology.”

It all means that big brands; including toy-makers; need to think about protecting their own designs, Star Wars and Disney do not want to loose billions in merchandising.

Cyndi Tetro is founder of 3Dplus me and a consultant to Disney: “Companies are always worried about losing their designs and you’re always walking this fine line of how you embrace what’s happening in the open-source and the fan communities and how you protect your brand.”

The legal eagles will have a job on their hands to get legislation drafted before technology races full-speed ahead to a universe far, far away.

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