Thingiverse Receives First DMCA Takedown

A landmark in home 3d printing was set when [Dr. Ulrich Schwanitz] sent a DMCA takedown notice to on users [artur83] and [chylld’s] takes on his Penrose triangle model. ([chylld’s] take is pictured above) While the takedown itself is highly debatable, we do think it’s cool that home 3d printing has come far enough to begin infringing on the copyrights of objects themselves. Right now media pirating has the front stage, but it’s not hard to look a little further into the crazy sci-fi universe that is our future and see a battle being fought over the rights to physical objects.

[via Thingiverse Blog]

47 thoughts on “Thingiverse Receives First DMCA Takedown

  1. bull! ignore that takedown notice.

    it is better that you lose your safe harbor protection.

    also the dmca applies to electronic goods

    if you look at what the d in dmca means it is digital.

    you can only have digital in electronics.

    i can understand the dmca being used to take down software (source code to generate a computer file like maybe the machine code for a cnc device or a vector image) or if it was a logo say sparc vs spark fun logos.

  2. As a physical object, this does NOT fall under the DMCA protections.

    The DMCA “criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (DRM) that control access to copyrighted works and increases penalties for copyright violations on the Internet.”

    As no internet copyright nor any DRM are being violated, this is nonsense. To get anywhere realistically he should be suing for IP violations outside of the DMCA, which would make him a huge retard and a disgrace to the mathematical/computer community.

  3. Liam what i meaned is digital is expressed by 1 and 0 and you can only have that in electronic form like data and signals.

    the only thing you can maybe protect is the data files

    also the dmca was written mainly or got most of it’s attention for anti circumvention like the pdf password cracker.

    if you have a physical model you may be able to patent or trademark it

  4. @mad_max and jeicrash

    Its the other way around. The guy who is selling them for 70 bucks has filed a takedown notice against after someone posted the cad files on there.

  5. Let’s say the copyright is valid.

    It’s a site that fabricates and lets people buy designs uploaded by other users. In that sense, it’s not terribly different from cafepress (but way cooler). So it’d make sense for them to deal with it in a similar way.

    If I owned such a site, I’d /want/ the DMCA takedown stuff to apply. I certainly wouldn’t want to get sued for the copyright violations of my users, and I don’t want to hire lots of lawyers or spend all day reviewing uploads for possible infringement.

    If the uploader disagrees about the infringement, let them fight it. There are provisions for that in the law.

    But hey, I’m no lawyer, and I’ve no real insight into the legal situation. On the other hand, it’s great to see other people who have legal knowledge fully on par with their hacking skills.

  6. i think this is bull i you look up patent in wikipedia it staits the the invention must be :” new, non-obvious, and useful or industrially applicable.” the penrose triangle is none on those. so my guess is he patented the method of how to print the triangle. however he then has to prove that they use exactly the same method for his takedown notice to be valid. even if it is the same method 2 different guys figured out exactly the same method independently which raises the question is it really “non-obvious”? sounds like a bogus patent to me……

  7. snowdruid-

    There’s a lot of legal difference between copyright and patent. What you say makes sense if it were an invention, but legally, if the guy sells it before it is disclosed in a patent, it cannot be patented. But that isn’t what is up here.

    Copyright law is murkier to me- I know what little I know of patent law because I work in industrial R and D. But a design that is derivable from published mathematics isn’t really a novel design, is it? (it is called a ‘Penrose Triangle’, so I assume the design is based on some algorithm derived from Penrose’s work). Legal minds should chime in, if you follow this site. I don’t want to violate laws when they apply, and I don’t want to be inhibited when they don’t.

  8. @dave you’re probably right i think i might have confused the two but still since his work is not original in any way i honestly dont understand how anyone could gain copyrights on this….

  9. I doubt he has a patent at all. Even as somebody who owns multiple 3d printers and pays a lot of money for CAD drawings and 3d scans to be made, I think this is absolutely bogus.

    Not only is this a misapplication of the DMCA, it is completely bogus on top of that. While I pay good money for CAD artists to design products, I don’t think we want to go down the path of one person gets mad so you remove the files to reproduce objects. We all know this is going to be an issue eventually but that first requires we all own $2000 HIGH QUALITY printers that can print multiple materials, including metals. We are years away from that – at best. No, the RepRap is in no way a high quality 3d printer. It just isn’t.

    The other thing to think about is that if you make a patented product (by someone else) for sale then you are likely violating US patent law. But that means you are selling the patented physical object. Not sure how or if the law applies if you only sell a set of plans. That’s what a patent application is, really. A set of plans made public with the exclusive period of time you get patent protection given in exchange.

    But if you make somebody elses patent for yourself (from those said plans of otherwise), then it isn’t. Further, if you make replacement parts available for sale for somebody elses patented invention, that’s fine too. You can’t use patent law to outlaw non OEM parts. See the entire auto parts market.

    This is pretty much another example of some idiot sending DMCA notices because the penalty for doing so is pretty much zilch (even though one has to swear under penalty of perjury) and possibly high for the ISP so the ISP generally says “shift the burden of any litigation to yourself so I can safe harbor” and I will put the files back up because I don’t want to deal with the potential legal costs and/or liability. Which isn’t always the “best” choice when it comes to letting themselves (Thingiverse) be bullied around but it is the best when it comes to not having to deal with legal crap and possibly 6 figure expenses they don’t want to deal with.

  10. @Andrew

    You wouldn’t steal a handbag. You wouldn’t steal a car. You wouldn’t steal a baby. You wouldn’t shoot a policeman. And then steal his helmet. You wouldn’t go to the toilet in his helmet. And then send it to the policeman’s grieving widow. And then steal it again!

  11. the only way this is a legit takedown is if the STL files were copied from the other site; otherwise, you can’t copyright the resultant 3D stuff. I seriously doubt the files were copied from the other site or otherwise derived, since shapeways doesn’t seem to even let you do that. Ergo this takedown was bullshit.

  12. hehe, roll on full 3-D circuit printing :-)

    Good luck taking that down, think Bittorrent on steroids. For every one site that gets taken down there will be 100 more that will go up.
    If the ‘Net goes down then people will switch to sneakernets and microSD cards smuggled inside everyday objects.

    The writing is on the wall for the DMCA, it was a bad idea when it was written and recent events just make it obvious that it empowers faceless corporations to control the population.

  13. How fucked up is this? That this debate is even taking place. What’s next?
    The end of democracy. With the recent passage of law allowing unlimited anonymous campaign contributions our government, its laws and our way of life are ending and we shall pledge allegiance to the highest bidder.

  14. Wow. Lots of uninformed rage here.

    First off, the “D” in DMCA has zero legal bearing on anything, but for information’s sake it is the first part of the phrase “Digital Millennium” in “Digital Millennium Copyright Act”. As in “this law that tries to take into account the changing nature of copyright in this new, digital, millennium”.

    Second, anyone who mentions the word “patent” is confused. There’s no possible patent in play here, and his takedown notice doesn’t mention patent, only copyright. Copyright, patent, and trademark law are related, but they address very different aspects of protecting intellectual property. You do everyone on the internet a disservice by speaking about them without understanding the difference.

    Third, of course he has a copyright on his original. As a sculpture, it is a considered a copyrightable work, and due to the Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988 it was automatically protected the moment he made it, no filing necessary. Incidentally, this is why you can’t always take pictures of sculptures in museums as a picture of a sculpture is considered a derivative work, if not a form of duplication.

    Finally, there is the question of whether this is an abuse of the DMCA or not. I’m not a lawyer, but I would guess it comes down to the question of using technology to circumvent copyright control measures. The big “copyright control” mechanism here is the difficulty of recreating a physical object, rather than DRM software or whatnot.

    So here’s a thought experiment: Suppose someone publishes a DRM’ed copy of the sheet music to a song on a pay-for-download site. I listen to a *recorded version* of the song, transcribe it, and make my transcription freely downloadable. This is, without question, a copyright violation. But is it a DMCA violation? I don’t think so, but I can imagine that an lawyerly argument can be made toward my use of transcription software, sound software, making it available on a website, etc. comprising tools for the circumvention of copyright controls.

  15. Even after some explanation I still see the confusion of copyright vs. patent. This is not patentable, but as a work of design is copyrightable, and is presumably copyrighted, as well as the digital design files and any paper sketches or blueprints. This is very similar to the way a video of a play of a work of Shakespeare is copyrightable. The play is an original artistic work by the actors, and the video is the medium in which it is physically fixed. The actors/producer must have permission/licensing from the copyright owner of the screenplay, or in this case the design files, to create a new original work (the object). Physical difficulty of manufacture is not considered an effective anti-piracy measure and does not apply. It would benefit the copyer in this case to create a new design, based on the mathematical concepts to produce a different work showing the same principals. This would be similar to normal sculpture, nobody owns to likeness of natural objects like the human form, or mathematical constructs, and a reasonably different work based on the same idea would not violate copyright.

    TL;DR If the guy wants to prove he gets the idea, make a similar, but distinctly different object.

  16. “Prior art exists for the design so a patent would not hold up in court.”

    Correct but just in case there is any confusion: the person who sent the DMCA isn’t asserting patent rights. There are no patent issues here. Copyright (the C in DMCA) is what is at issue here.

  17. What if that guy sold cubes instead of that other shape.

    He would have to send takedown notices to everyone who permits the free download of files that represented a cube. Replication or not.

    Clearly he’s a troll and a schmuck.

  18. i grant you i might still be a little fuzzy about the legal difference between copyright and patent but still copyright is supposed to protect ORIGINAL work. which in my book would mean that Reutersvärd and Penrose are the copyright holders and not Dr. Ulrich Schwanitz. in this case the good doc would be actually infringing DMCA himself

  19. I send random DMCA takedown notices to websites, just to be a pain in the a$$.

    I say if you can’t beat them join them. IF anything even remotely appertains to be a violation. I say send in a DMCA notice(whether you actually have rights or not) If we all did this DMCA take-down notices would become so cumbersome as to render nearly ALL Internet content inviable. If WB can do it so can we.

    I for one am getting a copyright on several series of random binary digits(software patent?), any file that happens to have this as part of it’s content will have to be removed from the internet or pay me a royalty.


    -Internet Sociology 2011

  21. I own all polygons and the visible colour spectrum, money plz. If you thought that sounded stupid a woman in Spain claims to own rights to the sun and all who benefit from its rays owe her royalties… Some people just want money for nothing. (And their chicks for free.)

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