What’s the Deal with Copyright and 3D Printing?

A new white paper written by Michael Weinberg, “What’s the Deal with Copyright and 3D Printing”, attempts to parse the legalese of copyright and establish what can and can’t be protected and how 3D printing blurs the lines of this legal protection.

People often confuse the application of copyright and patent right.  Simply put, copyright covers creative works like painting, writing, sculptures and movies while patents protect useful objects like machines.   

But with 3D printing, this line can be blurred significantly, and in his paper, Weinberg highlights four cases where the distinction between creative and functional works lies in a legal gray area.

For anyone who is interested in using 3D printing for creative work or industrial design, this paper is a must read, although by end of the paper you shouldn’t be frustrated if all of this is still a bit confusing. Weinberg admits in his conclusion, “[M]any of the questions raised in the paper do not have simple, easy-to-apply answers. That is in large part a function of the way the legal system tackles new questions. At this point in the history of 3D printing… many of the most interesting questions are only beginning to assert themselves. Although it is possible to draw guidance and principles by analogy from cases not involving 3D printing, it is too early to confidently state how future courts will view them in light of 3D printing.”

Read Michael Weinberg’s White Paper Here

Image Courtesy of Michael Weinberg