unjapanologist: (Default)
[personal profile] unjapanologist
I haven't paid much attention to 3-D printers yet, apart from gawking at videos of all kinds of crazy and gorgeous stuff that people are making with them. The printers are still a bit over the $500 price point right now, which is actually amazingly low, and I definitely want one if as soon as they get a bit more affordable. The possibilities! I'm so making a set of Jee and Zuko figures that are the right size to interact with my Jurassic Park toys. They can ride in the jeep and shoot tyrannosaurs with the little bazooka. I could also make LEGO Jee and Zuko, and Barbie Jee and Zuko, and porn Jee and Zuko and and and.

Here is a video about the possibilities and relevance of 3-D printers. It's plenty awesome all on its own, and I'm sure we all have more than enough imagination to translate this to fannish possibilities. (Not sure if this embed is working, please click the link above if it doesn't.)

Shiny. There's a ton of sites out there with more info and videos, like this one.

Predictably, 3-D printing comes with its own set of potential intellectual property headaches (a good introduction). There have been some incidents already, like this one involving a Warhammer fan. The guy made 3-D printer designs for a few self-created Warhammer figurines and put them up for free downloading, then got hit with a takedown notice based on the DMCA.

Observers predict that in a few years we'll see printers that integrate scanning capability — so your kid can toss in a Warhammer figurine, hit Copy, and get a new one. The machine will become a photocopier of stuff.

This has all the makings of an epic and surreal legal battle. You thought Hollywood and record labels were powerful lobbyists, crushing Napster and suing file-sharers? Wait until you see what the manufacturing industry can do. The American Chamber of Commerce is the single largest lobbyist on Capitol Hill, spending $60 million a year.

But there's one big difference in this clash: The legal situation might actually favor the amateurs.

That’s because, as Weinberg points out, disputes over copies of physical objects are often fought using patent law, which is far less strict than copyright. For example, patents last only 20 years, which means many cool everyday objects (Lego bricks!) are long out of patent. What's more, patent law generally governs only a complete assembled product, so creating replacement parts — a thriving pastime among hobbyists — is probably legal.

What 3-D printing hobbyists mostly have to watch out for, Weinberg argues, is copying artistic patterns or designs on an object. That violates copyright. But if you stick to reproducing or modeling the basic physical nature of something — particularly if you’re rejiggering a physical concept into a new form — you’re probably safe. (Indeed, Weinberg isn't even sure Valenty infringed on Warhammer’s copyrighted designs, because Games Workshop is accusing him of creating figurines in the style of the game, and you can’t copyright style.)

Nice, but...

So really, the longer-term danger here is that manufacturers will decide the laws aren’t powerful enough. Once kids start merrily copying toys, manufacturers will push to hobble 3-D printing with laws similar to the Stop Online Piracy Act. “You’ll have people going to Washington and saying we need new rights,” Weinberg frets. Imagine laws that keep 3-D printers from outputting anything but objects “authorized” by megacorporations — DRM for the physical world. To stave this off, Weinberg is trying to educate legislators now.

Owww. Sounds like an issue we might want to stay aware of. I wonder about the copyright aspects of creating figurines of my favorite characters, too. Hmmm.

Date: 2012-06-03 02:39 pm (UTC)

elf: Computer chip with location dot (You Are Here)
From: [personal profile] elf
xkcd # 924: 3-D Printer

Patent law will trigger on some things; trademark law will be the big one for most lawsuits. Which will be nicely sidestepped by adding modifications that distinguish the printed copies from the originals... Barbie is a specific size and shape; Mattel doesn't own a lock on 5-piece 9"-tall dolls.

The "favorite characters" are covered by trademark... IF there's any chance of confusing them with the originals. Mattel's sued over parody books/art about Barbie several times, and keeps failing. So while making a "Harry Potter" doll set enacting a scene in the final movie would get WB coming after you with blazing hot lawyers, making a "Hogwarts Shag-a-thon collection" is more likely to be fair use for parody purposes.

There are other concerns with this. Like, what keeps guns from being fully automatic instead of semi-automatic is a bit of hardware, a pin of a particular size & shape. You can't legally buy that pin... but with an accurate enough printer, you could make it. (Right now, most of the printers don't do small enough precision work for this.)

The household-commodities industry will go into conniption fits. They've never had competition for coffee cups and spatulas. Certainly, they've never considered making them with customized handgrips.

However, as XKCD points out, the sex toys industry will be the one that gets all the attention. (And will probably be used by legislators to insist that these machines must be regulated, because OMG we cannot have CHILDREN downloading and printing, um, whatever that thing is and are those tentacles on the side?)
Date: 2012-06-03 04:27 pm (UTC)

elf: Computer chip with location dot (You Are Here)
From: [personal profile] elf
Home printers didn't start with access to an internet full of porn. By the time there *was* an internet full of porn, printing it wasn't the main concern, as everyone was aware that people are pretty much happy to see porn on the screen instead of on paper. So there's a lot of drama about how to block what sites and so on.

For 3-D printers, this will mean attempts to block the sites that host the files of printables that aren't "family friendly," although that's likely to be a lot more complicated than they'd like.

I assure you, there will also be bizarre panicked cries of "kids can print dildos! Our girls will be deflowered by plastic! OMG teenage boys will be printing breasts and fondling them! They will print DICKS and fondle them and turn gay! The internet will make our sons gay!"

See, for example, the reaction to DC's announcement of a gay Green Lantern. Then add the concept of an anatomically-correct printable Green Lantern figurine.

However, the ComicCon costumes should get astoundingly more interesting. If you can print your own bat-mask and batarangs? Your own Wolverine claws?

Doesn't matter that the exact original design is trademarked; there's enough variation possible that it won't matter. "Spikey bat-ish shaped domino mask" is not a trademark/copyrightable concept.
Date: 2012-06-05 03:14 am (UTC)

elf: Computer chip with location dot (You Are Here)
From: [personal profile] elf
The internet has always been for porn. When there was only text, people made obscene ascii art. As soon as there were images, people spent ridiculous amounts of time on 300baud modems downloading 64kb gifs of naked women. Or they spent ridiculous amounts of money for a 5" floppy disc full of said pictures.

I expect the "think of the children" crowd will focus much more on "chidren can make knives! pipe bombs! zip guns!"... and nevermind that kids can make those things now, from other materials... these will be downloadable plans!

The wingnutty "children must never be allowed to know that humans have body parts between their hips and their knees" crowd will just lend a bit of shrill to the yelling.
Date: 2012-06-03 02:46 pm (UTC)

extempore: (balance)
From: [personal profile] extempore
The more inventions get made, the more progress in science is made, the more our current understanding of property is taking away from our freedom to act and interact (give, share, use, reproduce...). This is not only a legal Gordic knot that needs to be entangled - it's a complete change in our societies and especially in our way to do commercial trade. Changing laws only won't help in the long run. What we need to change is our approach to sharing, trading and owning.

The more I think about this, the more I suspect that rampant capitalism and the free market economy on their own and unrestricted aren't the right tools to handle such a gigantic change.
Date: 2012-06-03 02:49 pm (UTC)

kimboosan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kimboosan
Interesting, and really pushes the line between "concept" and "manufacturing." Manufacturers are heavily invested in their factories, even knowing what a financial sink they are (which is why they keep moving to where the cheap real estate and cheap labor are). But it's like publishers not understanding the difference between what a book is conceptually (the story) vs. the container for it (a printed codex or ebook).

I foresee small upstart toy "manufacturers" designing toys specifically to be copied on 3-D printers, with special "downloads" of costumes or patterns to apply to them (which will be where the money is, selling the "mods" for the object). Meanwhile the "giants" will continue to defend a manufacturing paradigm that in 25 years will be 100% obsolete.

Interesting times, indeed.
Date: 2012-06-04 12:39 am (UTC)

angrymermaids: (jeeko)
From: [personal profile] angrymermaids
Barbie Jee and Zuko: I never knew I wanted this until just now.
Date: 2012-06-04 02:45 am (UTC)

angrymermaids: (jeeko)
From: [personal profile] angrymermaids
Ooh, and they have a Barbie Dream House Ship. There are many many possibilities here.


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