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Copyright on 3-d files and objects

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Interesting "paper" and even review of the situation - of course from the US perspective which is not completely applicable in what is a global situation (much like existing copyright law).


Perhaps add a little clarity for those confused and who spout the copyright argument when they actually should be referring to 'patent'.


I see 3D printing as having 3 phases.1. The reproduction of an existing object into a data file or the creation of a completely new object to a data file. 1st case is irrelevant to both patent and copyright laws - usually the case in railway modelling. The second is a new unique object which in theory could be patent. But the process certainly is not.

2. The data file is as unique to the author as a book or a photograph or a collection of musical notes. Copyright could apply.

3. The process of 3D printing is not. Presumably the owner of the copyright file grants me licence to print it otherwise it has no value. Like telling me you have written a best seller but it has not been published so I cannot read it. This is the stage where things can go adrift. What is there to stop me selling that file onwards? Presumably the licence lets me print as many copies as I would like but not to copy and sell copies of the file.



I think I heard somewhere that the printer manufacturers are trying to come up with a system that will only print a specified number per data licence and that licence will be embedded in the data file, effectively destructing after a number of prints. Quite how this could be done I don't know but it would probably put paid to the idea of DIY 3D printing. All I can say is be careful what you wish for in terms of regulation because when it comes it will be badly formed and will restrict the whole industry to those that can employ the most expensive legal teams.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Catching up on old threads now I have a moment


Your three phases


1. Converting an object into a data file by scanning it may well be no different to say scanning a book. In which case in the UK it would depend upon the nature of the input object but would need permission (remember in the UK you can't even legally convert a CD into MP3 format for your phone). Scanning an object and creating a data file may also infringe design rights in some situations. It's basically an act of recording.


2. The data file may well not be copyright. It may be subject to database rights but if it is a raw scan of an object then it seems to be a large table of facts, so probably contains no creative copyrightable expression. It might be a derivative work of the original in which case copyright at least in part would rest with the creator of the original object. (Copy a book and the resulting copy is still copyright but not by you)


3. The owner of the copyrighted file may or may not have granted you a license to print one or more copies. Amazon own the rights to make copies of and distribute works on Kindle book-readers, I doubt they own the right to print copies. If they gave you a file and said "print your own copy" then yes they either gave you a license or barred themselves by estoppel from taking action if you do.



All of this is actually no different to existing 2D fold up paper models


Patents are on specific processes and methods so wouldn't appear related at all.



Nothing here is new. When you shove a page from a text book in a scanner you are going through the same exact processes, creating a digital data set (the PDF file), storing that file, and creating an extra physical copy when you print it.

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Possible misunderstanding. In option 1. I was referring to a scan of "specific real word object" eg a wagon that exists. A book would be a bad example here - as the book contains word set out in an original order - which is covered well by copyright. Similarly the original object being a 2D photo also to some extent a unique copyright of the photographer - though many could have photographed the same object. But if I scan a 3D object and you scan it our data files will be the same - we have not changed the original. So, as our data files are the same we will both reproduce the same object.

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Quote from the UK intellectual property office:



Can I sell jumpers I have knitted from a knitting pattern in a shop?

Probably not without obtaining the permission of the copyright or design right owner first. Whilst the point of publishing a pattern in a magazine or selling a pattern in a shop is clearly for people to knit the garment, it is usually only intended for a few garments to be made for e.g. family members, and not for multiple use for commercial gain.

There may be copyright or design right in the garment or copyright in the decoration on the garment that would entitle the rights owner to control what happens to the garments if they are knitted to be sold commercially. However, check the small print on the pattern as this might help you decide what you can do.

I think is close enough to 3d or 2d printing of designs to answer the IPO opinion on this. In the end only the courts can decide.

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but not 'practical objects'


Usually the case. Ornamental elements of a practical object are generally protected by registered design in the UK (confusingly also called a patent in the USA). Ornamental objects *on* a physical object may be covered by copyright - eg if you scan a Rolls Royce front ....


Obvious exceptions of great relevance to 3D scanning include architecture.

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