Ask Hackaday: Selling CAD Prints That Are Not Yours

[Louise] tried out her new E3D Cyclops dual extrusion system by printing a superb model dragon. The piece was sculpted in Blender, stands 13cm tall and can be made without supports. It’s an impressive piece of artwork that reflects the maker’s skill, dedication and hard work. She shared her creation on the popular Thingiverse website which allows others to download the file for use on their own 3D printer. You can imagine her surprise when she stumbled upon her work being sold on eBay.

It turns out that the owner of the eBay store is not just selling [Louise]’s work, he’s selling thousands of other models taken from the Thingiverse site. This sketchy and highly unethical business model has not gone unnoticed, and several people have launched complaints to both Thingiverse and eBay. Now, there are lots of things to talk about here, but the 800 pound high voltage transformer in the room is the legality of the whole thing. What he’s doing might be unethical, but is it illegal?

When [Louise] politely asked the eBay store owner to remove her work, he responded with:

“When you uploaded your items onto Thingiverse for mass distribution, you lost all rights to them whatsoever. They entered what is known in the legal world as “public domain”. The single exception to public domain rules are original works of art. No court in the USA has yet ruled a CAD model an original work or art.”

Most of the uploaded CAD models on Thingiverse are done under the Creative Commons license, which is pretty clear in its assertion that anyone can profit from the work. This would seem to put the eBay store owner in the clear for selling the work, but it should be noted that he’s not properly attributing the work to the original creator. There are other derivatives of the license, some of which prohibit commercial use of the work. In these cases, the eBay store owner would seem to be involved in an obvious violation of the license.

There are also questions stirring with his use of images.  He’s not taking the CAD model and making his own prints for images. He lifting the images of the prints from the Thingiverse site along with the CAD files. It’s a literal copy/paste business model.

With that said,  the eBay store owner makes a fairly solid argument in the comments section of the post that broke the news. Search for the poster named “JPL” and the giant brick of text to read it. He argues that the Thingiverse non-commercial license is just lip service and has no legal authority. One example of this is how they often provide links to companies that will print a CAD design on the same page of a design that’s marked as non-commercial. He sums up one of many good points with the quote below:

“While we could list several other ways Thingiverse makes (money), any creator should get the picture by now-Thingiverse exists to make Stratasys (money) off of creators’ designs in direct violation of its very own “non-commercial” license. If a creator is OK with a billion-dollar Israeli company monetizing his/her designs, but hates on a Philly startup trying to make ends-meet, then they have a very strange position indeed.”

OK Hackaday readers, you have heard both sides of the issue. Here’s the question(s):

1.  Is the eBay seller involved in illegal activity?

2. Can he change his approach to stay within the limits of the license? For instance, what if he credits the                      original maker on the sale page?

3. How would you feel if you found your CAD file for sale on his eBay store?

242 thoughts on “Ask Hackaday: Selling CAD Prints That Are Not Yours

    1. Not at all true.

      Original creator makes model. Retains copyright, and licenses it under CC attribution and non-commercial. Someone downloads model, prints and makes derivative. Sells derivative, and does not provide attribution.

      Violation of license: sells for money (non-commercial means no money, goods, or services), and no attribution. Therefore license does not apply, and user has a violating copy of a work of art.

      Oh, and if you have a problem with this: this is the bedrock of GPL. By default copyright, you have no rights to said code. The GPL provides said rights. If you violate the GPL, you lose said rights. No ifs, ands, or buts.

        1. The license here is not the GPL (that was an example by jwcrawley), it is CC-BY-NC-ND. That is a license that requires attribution, only allows non commercial use and does not allow derivatives/modifications. There was no attribution and the ebay listing definitely qualifies as commercial use, so bamm there goes the license and the full copyright applies, meaning the ebay seller violated the author’s copyright (whose name is Louise Driggers btw) and hence is in the legal wrong here.

          Licensing basis are really not that hard to understand :(

          1. Through my understanding this was not an original creation by Louise Driggers but was something that was derived from another persons art. Therefore… for her to take exception from this is a bit of the pot accusing the kettle.

            In the end- its a false controversy where neither side is in the right.

          2. My bad…

            This model is based on a previous model by the same person that itself was inspired by a 3D modeling tutorial as well as a sculpture on a bridge in Slovenia.

          1. If you make a CAD file and share it publicly under no-profit terms I can’t sell that CAD file to a third party, but if I make a house from it there is nothing to stop me selling the house. How are these little plastic lumps of potential landfill any different?

          2. Actually Dan, if I design a house for you, and give you the plans to build it, you can do as you please with the house, You can’t however, do what you please with the plans. But hey – the architect who drew up your plans probably pirated some software and didn’t work on a FOSS helpdesk, so that makes it all ok.

          3. Really, check your contract…. See that is the difference you are describing a direct contractual relationship, which makes your “proof example” idiotically irrelevant.

          4. Well dan, whether you can legally sell the house will depend on both the jurisdiction that you’re selling the house in, as well as the details of the terms. It IS possible for it to be illegal for you to sell the house. The very fact that these little plastic lumps of potential landfill are no different means that this doesn’t go the direction you want it to.

          5. Move on we have already discussed the difference is if there is a direct contract and the nature of the contract. The purchase, gifting or borrowing of a recipe book, or a dress pattern does not forbid the selling of the resulting cake or dress. It is further complicated by the fact that they did not create the STL files, they were generated from the original geometry that they created when they interacted with the software, which they may or may not have had a lawful licence to use (yeah that is relevant). So it is a print of a copy of the description of a design that was published.

            I have already pointed out that the keystone argument is the question of if it is a derived work or the product of instructions that were freely available. This is what needs to be proven. You may find that he simply can’t supply the printed object to people in some jurisdictions, which you incidentally pointed out yourself.

            After you have worked all that out you still have the moral issue of are you getting justice against a genuine exploiter of other people, your just childishly stomping on the head of a little nobody just like yourself?

      1. You wouldn’t download a car WOULD YOU!? ( I would, If the design was available for free online ) You want to keep your “product” safe, dont upload it to the internet for everyone to download. Simple.

          1. And Johnny Cash/Wayne Kemp also did it in the song ‘One Piece at a Time’…

            …anyway- thats not ‘downloading’ it’s theft and because it involved the mail it means ol’ Radar is guilty of a federal felony. At best this is making an un-authorized copy which is firmly in copyright territory and not theft despite what the RIAA, MPAA and Lars Ulrich have to say about it.

      2. What’s the license on the image of the print uploaded to Thingverse? Is that covered by the CC license as well? If so, it also needs attribution. If not, it’s a clear direct violation of copyright. If the guy’s selling physical prints he should have physical objects of his own to photograph. If he’s not bothering to make them until someone orders one, he should make that clear, as the buyer has zero indication of the final quality of his prints. So he’s ripping off the designer and he’s scamming his customers. Nice deposits in the karma bank, dude.

        1. Yeah he could be just an opportunistic scum-bag, or he could be some relatively poor person just trying to bootstrap a small business opportunity for themselves. That would be a “Spirit of the Law” issue, and until you can prove it one way or the other you risk defamation. You go after the big guys, leave the little people alone, just as the big guys should also leave the little guys alone and not try a prosecution against some single mom who’s brat download some movie.

          1. You go light on the little guys (“cease and desist” only if possible, sometimes penalties & a license grant if the rights holder is both sensible and sees some potential), but you do still go after them. You don’t put the guy illegally selling cigarettes on the corner in a choke hold, but you do drag him off for a single night in jail AFTER he’s met his monthly needs.

      3. But the license you refer to applies to the CAD model.
        Now I fully admit I didn’t look at this guys ebay pages, but the write up above heavily implies in multiple places that the guy isn’t selling (or even giving away) the CAD files this license applies to, but is only selling the physical 3d print.

        Once the CAD file is printed, the print becomes a real physical object, and first sale doctrine should be the law that applies, not copyright.

        If I’m mistaken about what’s on the ebay page then please do disregard. But by completely excluding any mention let alone hyperlink to a CAD file, copyright shouldn’t apply to him.

        Even the argument of being a derivative work likely doesn’t apply, and if by rare chance it did it would be easily avoidable.
        The guy just has to personally print out the CAD file on his personal 3d printer. He then sells the resulting physical object to the company he owns (allowed by first sale doctrine), which then also renders resell completely legal under the same law.

        Unfortunately while most of us feel it’s shitty he doesn’t even give credit where credit is due, and even quite a few of us may be perfectly happy with his actions so long as said credit is given, I suspect part of the reason for not giving credit may actually be to avoid the potential license violation it would be to include the CAD file at all.

        While I definitely feel he is wrong to do this, especially so in cases he is requested to stop, I’m not at all sure he is breaking the law (Again, assuming the above write up is accurate)

        1. However, the argument is not about the print; he can sell that lump of plastic. What he can’t do is use the CAD file in a commercial manner.

          First sale is about the ability to license a physical object (aka “book”). You are allowed to sell your book to the second hand store (even in the US). You are NOT allowed to photocopy the book and sell it, you are not allowed to perform it to an audience and you cannot sell a derivative work without the original copyright holder’s license unless it is “Transfomative”

          There is a stated license and it prohibits commercial use. This is exactly the same as making a movie using “student license” then commercially releasing.

          1. Actually, a derivative being “transformative” isn’t enough. You need a fair use exception (criticism, parody, education,…) before you can even start talking about “transformative” works. Moreover, you are not allowed to make a derivative work to begin with (unless you have an appropriate license or fair use case).

      4. Pretty sure the Jonathan Coulton/Glee debacle proved once and for all that CC is useless for protecting rights to your own work. Jonathan Coulton is no A-list celebrity, but Fox shamelessly used his recording without crediting him (which was all he asked for) and the law gave absolutely no shits.

        1. I agree that his piece was ripped off. The unfortunate reason here is, “It was FOX”.

          Monied interests do indeed have a different code of laws than the rest of us. Not only that, but they can litigate longer than you can stay alive. Simply from those things, your puny copyright is worthless when dealing with the mega-conglomerates, but is perfectly fine in bludgeoning small businesses.

    2. Guys just trying to make a buck man.

      You’re saying I can have your 3D model only if I buy a 3D printer.

      But I can’t just reimburse some one for the time and effort to make one for me?

      Fuck off people need to get off their high horse, did she really want to just show off her awesome model and want no one else to have one.

      In future she should put her mark on the damned thing

      1. Making a buck is fine. If you do it the proper way. For example, my models, you’re free to sell prints of those. But I do require attribution (so tell that they are made by me).

    3. agreed, it’s sadly like putting any thing on facebook or deviant art and hoping some one wont print it off or copy the idea or any number of things that can happen when you are uploading to any one and every one out there in the world. a better question, does thingiverse have a agreement before downloading or uploading content stating that selling shared 3d models with out permission is bad? With out the agreement it sucks but it’s not illegal or new a thing, just new because the media. Does google street view need your permission to take a picture of your house?

    1. Yep, this pretty well nails it. As side note I don’t think anyone would have an issue getting a court to agree that a CAD model is an original piece of art, if it is of artistic value such as this dragon sculpture.

    2. So the authors of F/OSS code (such as GPL-licensed Linux kernel, or BSD-licensed BSD operating systems) shouldn’t have released their code under an F/OSS license either? It’s just as easy (and exactly the same thing) to take the F/OSS and disobey those licenses.

      1. Except he is not selling the CAD file or a derivation of it.

        The irony is that the people who want to protect their little 3D doodles are usually pirating software, or using FOSS projects that they have never contributed a cent toward, or even a second of their time as support team members.

        1. The real “irony” is that it doesn’t matter if there is pirated software or even FOSS projects that haven’t been contributed to(which seems a really weird point to attempt to make when you consider the “F” in FOSS). That’s all speculation that has absolutely nothing to do with this situation. The situation specifically deals with the designs or derivative works being used commercially. Anything beyond that is just muddying the waters unnecessarily.

          1. By the same legal basis that a house built from architectural plans is a derivative of those architectural plans, or an automotive built from mechanical plans is a derivative of those mechanical plans. Some relevant stuff from an architectural perspective here: ( ), with the interesting stuff MOSTLY starting at “Benefits and Limitations”. Important is the “legally obtained” bit: if the usage is contrary to the license, then the plans are not legally obtained, if the usage is compliant to the license, then the plans were legally obtained.

          2. There is a difference between the work of architects (an art) their styles, and architectural engineers (a science) so the laws may also apply differently. My original point is obviously about art objects and not an invention.

            If the 3D object was printed using parametric code that had to be compiled to get the 3D geometry to drive the CNC machine the law would have different things to say about it, surely?

          3. Dan, you’re merely saying that if you change the format(3d object to computer code of some kind), copyright doesn’t apply and that’s really as wrong as you can get. You can’t turn the latest movie into a program that reproduces that movie and expect that any court is going to buy that since you turned it into code, you didn’t intend for it to reproduce the movie. I might humbly suggest you look into the definition of “derivative works” in the copyright code.

            I’m not saying I don’t kinda want there to be some leeway there but you do indeed have to know the laws if you want to break them properly, and no judge or jury will accept your defense so you might want to pay attention since ignorance of the law is no excuse

          4. I have no idea what you are talking about except that it has nothing to do with anything I said.

            A parametric description is a program, STL is just a shell that is rendered from geometry in the CAD program or a parametric description. There is a difference. The question is, if you don’t have a licence to use a program the works you produce have a different status than if you did? Yes or no? I ask because to prove you are the owner of work of art in STL form you need to present the original geometry, and that may very well also require you to demonstrate that you had a licence for the software used to create it in the first place and that licence allowed you to have commercial rights to the geometry.


          5. Dan, I don’t get your point. This was created using blender. It’s FOSS.

            If some person were to create a model with a piece of pirate software then they own the copyright to to the model. End of story. The fact they may also owe a license fee and fines for the piece of software to the software vendor has nothing to do with the copyright.

            If I stole a pen and piece of paper and wrote the greatest poem ever on it I still own the poem.

            As to your “art” argument, your misunderstanding of what art refers to also has no effect on the ownership of the copyright.

            This is clearly derived from the CAD model for commercial purposes, the original creator has clearly stated no commercial use, no derivatives, the seller is therefore breaking the terms of the license and has no right to sell these pieces.

          6. I am trying to work out what the overall principles are, how many of the works on thingiverse were created on FOSS vs licensed software and if one was to try and enforce artist’s rights in a court would one need to show possession of the original geometry because an STL file is just a shell and not the original “art”. The point about parametric files is they are a program so they can be under “not for commercial” like educational licences etc. and that would include the output geometry. I am not so interested in the specifics of this case as it is trivial, but it does raise some questions and highlights some messy areas. Good luck even proving the guy has made any money out of the prints. There is also the hypocrisy of FOSS users that complain about rights on the output of that software but never contribute to FOSS. I’ve been involved in FOSS development since last century :-) so I know what people are really like, mostly parasitic, ungrateful and bloody annoying. We build these tools and share them because we know that what profits humanity as a whole profits us and our descendants. If you look at the man-hour value of our projects it runs into the millions, we have given away more than many people have ever had.

            Also has anyone, other than myself, pointed out the letter vs the spirit of the law difference, or suggested that if people really care that they should commission a piece from the artist as that is going to do more good than attacking some guy who may have made little or no real profit from the printed objects?

          7. Dan, consider what would happen if this guy had made his own blender files, then made his own stl files and then made his own plastic figures, that just happened to be exact replicas of warhammer figures?

            Yes, the war hammer company would stop him. It has nothing to do with what software he uses or whether he has the original art files, or the stl, which in many respects is just art in a different format (like is you take a JPEG photo and save it as a bitmap.)

            What this guy doing is wrong.
            He correctly points out that what the thingy verse does offering a link to print is essentially the same, he’s right, that’s wrong too, but that someone else is doing it doesn’t make him any more right.

            To answer the questions posed in the article:
            Yes, what he is doing is illegal, non-commercial means not to be sold. He’s clearly stated a commercial business on eBay, not that it matters of course. The artist won’t defend in court… So he may as well carry on.

            2, no, attributes for artists don’t change his commercial venture.

            3, thrilled. But then everything I do that is publicised is pretty much released under my own “do what the fuck you like with it, just don’t harm me” license so I couldn’t care if he took my designs and became a millionaire with then. Any thing I want to keep as secret sauce I keep as secret sauce, anything else is given away freely.

        1. CAD files (and CAD prints) are legal instruments per P.L. 106-229 of 2000, 15 USCS sec. 7001. Physical objects created therefrom are derivations of the original work. Modifications of the original file (or print) are also derivations.

          1. May only be applicable to engineering descriptions of inventions, not to “art”, graphic design or fashion. Is there anything that covers that specific demarcation?

        2. Yes, I agree that the 3D print is a derivation of the CAD file. That seems pretty obvious.

          Just like people were getting sued for just *singing* Happy Birthday – not merely for distributing the sheet music…

  1. “If a creator is OK with a billion-dollar Israeli company monetizing his/her designs, but hates on a Philly startup trying to make ends-meet, then they have a very strange position indeed.”

    Strange, possibly, but ENTIRELY at their discretion. Just because he doesn’t like it doesn’t mean it isn’t legally binding.

    The whole point of any free license is to control what others do with your work.

    On another note, he can’t use the “Game of Thrones” trade marks to sell non-sanctioned models, regardless of where they came from.

    Nice try, but still illegal on many fronts.

    I wonder how long his legal defense would hold up against Disney if he tried to sell Mouse models? (Didn’t check if he does or not, don’t care to be honest)

    1. Not very long (don’t know if that specific case has come up, but the general category of case has). The interesting question has always quickly become whether Disney will cut them some slack for the sake of being able to sell the infringing product: sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, though I suspect that some amount of remuneration always changes hands, even if just via discounts on the initial X units.

      1. There are 2232 things on their ebay page. The full list has been found here
        And it’s available in a public editable (no sign in) sheet

        It would be interesting to have
        1/ the links to the original work (that is not automatable)
        2/ an estimate of the printing time in low and high resolution (you dont need a printer, just use your preffered slicer)

        There’s so many items that i propose that we collaborate on completing the sheet
        by finding the links to the original works (this hardly automatable)

        Wanna have a go ?

  2. Intellectual property is a joke. If she wants attribution she needs to put her name on the bottom like any potter will do. I personally put things on thingiverse for one reason, to share them. Yes he should just put a link to the thingiverse object and avoid all the hoopla, but pride goeth before the fall.

    That and I really don’t see anyone buying any of this stuff at the price point he has. Just recently updated and all he has for sale is the frowny face so I guess ebay shut him down.

      1. It’s a bit more than that, since he’s turning a profit on a design that carries a non-commercial license. If he simply allowed people to buy it from the store, at cost, there would be no issue with the NC part.

  3. There seems to be some ignorance both on the part of the eBay seller and in the comments here around what terms like “Freeware” and “Public Domain” mean.

    Specifically, the model of the dragon is under a CC-BY-NC-ND license (right now. it may have been under a more permissive license at release time, in which case, the modeler ought to have known better, though selling the print is still sketchy.)

    So what’s the eBay seller doing that’s in violation of that license? Specifically, they’re creating a derivative work (no-no) for sale (no-no) without attribution (no-no). by selecting the CC-BY-NC-ND license, Jordan made their wishes explicitly known. Violating those wishes is a fucking jerk move.

    But being a fucking jerk isn’t illegal in and of itself, and the Creative Commons license family hasn’t been tested in court as far as I know. It’s definitely true that Jordan could in fact try to enforce the license in a civil suit. I am not a lawyer, and have no idea who would prevail on such a claim.

    1. > But being a fucking jerk isn’t illegal in and of itself, and the Creative Commons license family hasn’t been tested in court as far as I know. It’s definitely true that Jordan could in fact try to enforce the license in a civil suit. I am not a lawyer, and have no idea who would prevail on such a claim.

      Well, neither has the GPL. And that’s because whomever goes against the GPL loses.

      By default, you have no rights to said code (3d model). The CC provides the rights as well as restrictions. By violating said license, it is null and void. Your models are then copyright violations, because the license does not apply to you.

      Now, I’m guessing they didn’t pay for their models to be registered with the US Copyright Office. Costs $35 for unlimited works at one time. And that then guarantees and provides rights of “Really Big Damages” and intentional violations.

      Unfortunate side: STLs aren’t on the list of files uploadable :/ But these are:

      So that answer is to provide 4 drawings for your 3d work of art: front, right, top, isometric. In the appropriate CAD or image format.

    2. This is illegal, and this is not in the public domain. By the way CC-BY-NC-ND means that this is the Creative Commons License(CC)-Attribution(BY)-NonCommercial(NC)-NoDerivatives(ND)

      By the way the CC license has been tested (sorta) and been found to be a copyright license and NOT just a contract. See
      Basically the holding finds that “Violations of open source and public licenses are enforceable through copyright infringement claims, not just as breaches of contract.”
      And the court (of Appeals) did look at the validity of the license, “The court held that the Artistic License is enforceable under copyright infringement.”
      Copyright claims are stronger than contract claims, btw

      By being a breach of copyright infringement, they have the right to enforce said license. And there have been instances where musicians and photographers have sued and won (although most of them settle out of court).

      Now trying to enforce this might cost and arm and and leg and if the seller is not in the United States good luck recovering any damages.

      Here’s what Jordan needs to do
      1) get an attorney, the seller is hoping that they don’t have the money/balls to do this
      2) Send a DMCA take down to the seller
      3) Send a DMCA take down to EBay – Trust me they WILL take this seriously.
      4) Call the Creative Commons and get them involved. (They might do this, or at least put you in touch with a lawyer who might do it pro bono)

      And for all you people that said this there is nothing wrong this this. Shame on you. If everybody stole my projects like this I would stop putting my cool things up, and everyone would be poorer for it. Just think that if everyone had this attitude there would be no Hack-A-Day, no Thingiverse, and no Linux or FreeBSD, etc.

      1. +1 agreed. Noncommercial quite literally means “Not for commercial use” and that extends to physical representations of copywritten material as well. Which is why you cant just 3D print a character model from a videogame and sell it.

  4. As scummy as this practice is, the Ebay seller is right. He is not offering to re-sell the free files uploaded in thingiverse, he is offering to print those files and send a physical product. If you do not want your art distributed, and perhaps profited from, by others, don’t give away your design files. The irony behind this is that Jordan is herself “stealing” the art from the original creator of Aria (whether GoT or D&D I can’t tell) and the graphic artists who have illustrated Aria in the past. Aria was not a product of Jordan’s mind but a work of art, given away freely in thingiverse, interpreting someone else creation.

    1. A quick edit to my comment. I just found the Thingiverse page were Aria is hosted. I see that the license by the artist requires attribution and is given away to the commons as a non commercial piece. Under those terms, the seller should refrain from offering this design. Although, let’s not forget, he is not offering the original free CC licensed files, he is offering to print the object for a fee.

      1. I would not be so sure about that. Given this whole issue, it is well possible that the file was initially published under a less restricted license and she only changed it after she found out the eBay listing.

        1. Possibly. This article is so poorly researched that my comments can only be based on the “facts” gleamed from the article. I did go and look at the ebay sellers page and found the Aria the Dragon thingiverse page but many questions remain; Is this sculpture a representation of an existing character in D&D called Aria the Dragon or is it a product of the sculptor’s imagination? Was the original license a CC-ATB-Non-Com license or did she change it later? How is this related, if at all to GoT (I strongly suspect in no way related). If the original work of art is a product of the poster’s mind (Jordan?) and it had a CC-ATB-Non-Com license from the start, Thingiverse should ban the ebay seller from downloading files in the future ( of course, he would create a new account and go on downloading). The Ebay seller should really list the service not the object (Looky here, we found this work of art in thingiverse and we will print it for you for only $99999999.99. Free shipping included!!)

          1. LOL – we do agree on the poorly researched part.
            1] The sculpture is a creation of the imagination of the artist, and not her first. Take a look at “Adalinda the Singing Serpent”.
            2] The license the artwork was released under was, and always has been CCByA-NC.
            3] The only relationship to GoT is the fact that the eBay seller used GoT keywords to drive hits to the sale.
            4] A number of companies in the 3D printing industry do license the use of this and other of the artists models. If you buy a Prusa i3 from Josef Prusa, you’ll find the above reference model on the box, in the manual, and included on the SD cart for your own personal enjoyment.

          2. So, I’m going to have to eat my own words…. here it goes; Aria the Dragon appears to be a unique creation by Louise Driggers [loubie] of Arlington, TX. She has several works of art uploaded on thingiverse which suggests to me this is not her first rodeo and that she most likely posted the CC-ATB-NC license restriction from the beginning and not as a reaction to the eBay seller. Based on this new information the eBay seller is wrong on multiple fronts. First, he trolled thingiverse and stole other people’s art and is selling them on eBay. Second, he used the GoT tag as clickbait when the object bears no relation to GoT. GoT is original, licensed work and his use of the term in association with this work of art is illegal on its own and stupid. Third,instead of offering 3D printing services, and linking the thingiverse files as examples of things you could have him print, he opted to sell the work of art itself, a blatant violation of the license. It is much more than an inconvenience and insult to the author. CC license are critical to the future. As 3D printers become as common as microwaves, more people will make their living by selling the files to create an item instead of the object itself. The innovators in this field are those who are currently creating objects that can be printed and creating a social environment were 3D printing becomes common place. Without them, there would be no progress in the 3D market. So, my apologies to Mrs. Driggers.
            Finally, could the Hackaday editors come out of the bathroom and actually read articles BEFORE THEY ARE POSTED?

        1. I think you will need to point to a precedent if you wan’t to make that claim. You could be right, and it is a keystone argument, therefore it is important that you can prove it because it could be argued that only another CAD file is a derivation. It may be seen as the difference between selling the recipe and selling the cake.

        2. I agree. Only if the CAD file were created from scratch (by you), not up-loaded to a distribution network (like Thingiverse) and then printed, would it not be deemed derivative. Unless, of course, it shares likeness to a previously licensed or copyrighted 3 dimensional object, which could result in lawsuit anyway.
          Applicable legal precedent-
          Cariou v Prince, 714 F 3d 694, 699 (2d Cir 2013)
          Meshworks, Inc v Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc, 528 F 3d 1258 (10th Cir 2008))

          1. “I agree. Only if the CAD file were created from scratch (by you), not up-loaded to a distribution network (like Thingiverse) and then printed, would it not be deemed derivative.”

            So if I write a book, make it a free ebook download from Google Books or, I lose lose my copyright protection?

            I am pretty sure, if Amazon started selling printed copies of a free ebook without securing a copyright license they would be in deep legal trouble. Explain how printing in 3d is different than printing 2d on paper as far as copyright goes.

          2. You signed over the distribution rights for your copyrighted material to Google or
            In this case, the original creator of the CAD file authorized the distribution of the file by Thingiverse, and that file was not copyrighted by the creator. So the creator has no legal standing.
            Amazon acts as third party distributor (a storefront), they do have warehouse(s), but they also allow other distributors to sell through their storefront. You could license distribution to a company, and then they sell through the Amazon storefront.
            2D or 3D makes no difference. You can copyright or trademark either.

          3. Granting distribution rights to Google or does not assign copyright to them. That would still stay with the author unless that was assigned separately. Even if it was assigned separately that would mean that Google or wold then be in position to sue as it is their copyright now that is being violated.

          4. Correct. It only assigns distribution rights as I said. Compensation for that distribution is determined by the contractual obligations agreed upon by the two (or more) parties involved. The acceptance of that contract can be as simple as a mouse click on a “I agree to the terms and conditions..” statement with numerous pages of fine print behind it. It is important to read and understand that document completely. The mouse click allows you to digitally sign the contract with your IP address and / or MAC address forming a legally binding agreement per the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act of 1999, and the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act of 2000.

    1. Take what you said, and subtract “The Internet”….

      And we look no further than 20 years ago with photo labs. Your portrait has a watermark in the corner of the photographer whom took it. The photo studio is supposed to check and verify that reproduction doesn’t violate copyright. That can be done with a phone call, contract, document, or whatever. It sucks when this happens, but that’s how it works.

      Ideally, this could be modified slightly. User puts in the license in the printing company’s website. Company doesn’t care what model is, just select your model and the material. Then select the license. The printing company stays out of this, but they keep the proof of fraud (if user claims it’s theirs, or a fake license).

      It would be up to the artists to search for their models, similar to that of youtube. Auto-detection can also be implemented to show that the printer company is doing some sort of verification.

      There’s certainly a precedent for this. CC_NC may be problematic if user brings stl to printing firm, but the gut answer here is “no, 3d print firm cannot make this”, mainly due to the NC.

      1. So then is the solution something as simple as embedding a physical “watermark” in the design? Isn’t this what things like maker’s marks used to accomplish?

        It’s either that or enforce a DRMed file format that only prints with the creator’s consent, which i’m sure most people wouldn’t support (or maybe some would).

    2. I’m pretty sure that when you print something at Shapeways, you need to click a checkbox somewhere to certify that you own the rights to the object you want to print.

      And if you want to make that model available as a product people can buy through Shapeways, then Shapeways is responsible for taking it down asap when they get a DMCA takedown request.

  5. I don’t see any problem with it. However, as a *nicety* it would be cool if the seller could attribute the item, where known. Apart from that I don’t see a single thing wrong with it.

    1. +1

      I don’t get it where people get the idea that they OWN ideas. Your work is opening up to ideas and making them physical in one way or another. What happens after that is not your work – it’s some one elses. Mentioning is nice yes.

      If you claim to own an idea then I expect you to be born in a cave and just now got out and met the first people.

      1. You don’t own an idea but you can own a copyright though and you can control the derivative works of it(see the U.S. Code on copyright for the definition of “derivative work”). That’s what’s going on here. We’re not discussing patents and ideas vs methods but having the right to prevent other people from copying your work.

        1. That is basically the same as having a right to jail people who you find offensive/disturbing.
          EVERYTHING is a copy in some way. I get it – sometimes work requires investments, R&D but you really have to do it all in a cave if you want to stop derivative works.
          Intellectual property stifles human progress in a measurable way and people still argue that nobody would do anything at all when everyone has a level playing field.

          1. “That is basically the same as having a right to jail people who you find offensive/disturbing.”

            THAT is the silliest exaggeration I’ve heard in a while.

      2. I also don’t see a problem, some people don’t have access to a 3D printer, and it could be argued that he/she is not selling the model but the his/her time, his/her printers time and his/her material costs plus whatever finishing procedures he/she is using. I think $30 is quite reasonable to have a large print like that if you have no other means of access to a printer.

        In the same sentence the seller should 100% be attributing the work to the creator and link to the thingverse page where he obtained the file.

  6. As someone who’s work showed up on ebay, I have a minor complaint. My model (Low Poly Bulbasaur planter) isn’t my original idea nor is the base design my own model. But I attribute those who provided what I used to work with.
    What I was most annoyed with is that originally the ebay listing was using only my photographs (now it shows some other pictures ripped from thingiverse) and did not attribute me.
    Being sold commercially and not attributing me are both violating the license from Thingiverse. What I’m currently going to hope for is that Nintendo takes notice and sends in the lawyers.

    1. That’s a bummer there, unfortunately. You’re a digital sharecropper on someone else’s land (Nintendo). You have no rights to the source model, or any subsequent digital interpretations of said art. It sucks.. it really does. But that’s the terms of copyright and how it works right now.

      What would be awesome is if a statutory payment to make derivatives would be enshrined in law. In that case, you would make a model of their character. Some money would go to you, and some would go to Nintendo. This would still provide a means to living whilst doing science and art, all the while not locking up our collective heritage of the last 75+author’s life in years in some state of purgatory.

      Tl;Dr: I’m for statutory payments that allow reuse without “permission”. Still against ‘forever-1’ copyrights.

      1. I feel that a simple statutory payment for all cases is unwise: it could be abused in such a way that market value is meaningfully damaged. A VOLUNTARY statutory-payment system, on the other hand (and, yeah, a mandatory statutory-payment system applying only to non-derivative usage, for things like music (already conditionally exists) and movies, with fees based on conventional-sales prices), would be wonderful: the Patent Office should decisively offer such a thing for a small per-transaction or bulk (licensee chooses) payment ($5 or something, so basically just cheap-pizza money), + a percentage (0.1% or less sounds right: set it high enough to cover maintenance and other upkeep).

        Though it’s worth noting that even in the US, where there is some legal REQUIREMENT to enforce copyright, a simple & cheap online rights-acquisition system could easily be setup by any company: they just don’t do it.

  7. 1. Did you explicitly state the file copyright was only for non-commercial use? No…
    So you are annoyed that someone is making $30 from work you gave away.
    Too bad you can’t sue for being naive….

    2. You could make another version (30% different), and licence the changes correctly.
    i.e. resets copyright period like star-wars improved releases, and Disney remastered productions.

    3. It happens all the time on an industrial scale, we see industrial espionage from US and China firms as just part of regular business. Our company abandons non-viable/leaked research projects other firms outright “borrow” a few times a year, as it is just not worth suing uncreative sociopaths who by their very nature can’t admit they are wrong. One’s perspective on human behaviour changes as you observe thousands of people screwing each other to “get ahead”.

    “I don’t care that they stole my idea . . I care that they don’t have any of their own” ( Nikola Tesla )

          1. I don’t know that dragon, and it’s cad file, looks like a derived copy of lots of other dragons. Is this the first time a dragon has been depicted? The “artist” mentally copied something(s) they have seen in their lifetime. So if I take her CAD file, print out a 3-d version, have another “artist” copy it and create another CAD file is the dragon made from the “original art” legal for sale?
            Is an artist who makes an “original” piece based on other copyrighted art in violation?

  8. So are the owners of the Game of Thrones franchise OK with this? I would think that they own the rights to Aria the Dragon and would need to licence any commercial use of the character regardless.

    1. They probably don’t give a shit about “Aria the Dragon”, since there is no “Aria the Dragon” in Game of Thrones. They probably care about the incorrect use of “Game of Thrones”, though…

      1. Ah, I don’t follow this show, I assumed from the post it was their character. But you are right in that I suspect that if one were to create a character out of thin air and attribute it to Disney you’d be very sorry you did in no time flat.

  9. No. The seller is in the wrong, and not for the reasons you thing. Regardless of the license permissions the initial file is distributed under, neither of them retain the rights to the IP of the dragon. While free distributing a small model file so people can have their own models of it is not technically allowed, it’s not being sold and is purely a fan work and may cause more bad pr if they do something and will likely be left alone. The ebay seller cannot sell it as he doesn’t have the rights to the name or the likeness or the legal standing for commercial distribution of such.

    1. Is that dragon “original” or is it a derived from other depicted dragon(s)? How different does it have to be to be considered original? Could the CAD file be taken and modified a little and then claim to be original. Point is how much “Original” art is there? Every science fiction I read is composed of ideas from recycled ideas from other SF works. Maybe I should write an original SF story, you know where some gal (oh gender bender there) makes a “time machine” that allows her to travel back in time to meet her younger self to warn herself about……man I am such a creative artist.

      1. “Could the CAD file be taken and modified a little and then claim to be original”- The answer is no because this would be a derivation of the original. (But) the file could be modified enough to alter it’s source in a subversive way and then copyrighted by you. And then you own the copyright for that new file.
        There is very little (if any) “original” art. Every car on the road is a derivation. The distinction comes from the legal document that allows you to make money on the design you have, whether you created it or not. Be it patent, copyright, or trademark.

  10. Looks to me that the creator was naive (as a lot of internet users are) although is right to be a bit pissed.

    Both the eBay seller and Thingiverse with the ‘get this printed’ adverts are both on morally shaky ground.

    Maybe if the eBay seller included links to the Thingiverse listing and full citations they would be at least trying to be good. They seem to be taking the “thanks, I’ll have that, f you’ stance”. I looked at the listing, no reference of the original creators. I’m doing a degree (for fun) if I submitted a report with no references or citations I would fail. It’s a big NO NO!

    As for the legal aspect, it is my understanding that you’ll never know for sure until it is tested in law. I believe it’s all about setting a precedent. Until that is done it’s a meaningless sentiment.

    1. Naïve, yep. and this is not the worse of it. Even if you create something truly original, patent it, and start making/selling it, you will find copies being made/sold from other countries. You will go broke filing desist orders and have no time to run your business. And not just foreign companies, research FORD and windshield wiper delay. Original designer demonstrated the delay concept/circuit to FORD who promptly designed an exactly functioning copy and called it original. Designer did finally win the patent suit, after 30 years, bankruptcy, a divorce, and mental breakdown.

  11. The seller is completely wrong because of all the points made about the Creative Commons licensing that was mentioned before. The seller is making a derived work and selling it commercially and is in violation.

    To all the people who seem to think that what the seller did is fine and the creator is a dunce for sharing their work, you should think this thing through a bit harder. Specifically, the creator specifically sought the protection from scumbags plagiarizing the work by releasing it under the CC license. If the CC license is not legally binding and/or is something that the majority of people feel they can ignore because it interferes with their own selfish needs, than you can probably expect that there will be fewer and fewer people sharing their work in the future.

    A lot of great open source software and open hardware designs will cease to be developed, and sites high will have diminishing contributors.

  12. Actually the Aria dragon it’s self has no affiliation with GoT. The eBay seller tacked that on to capitalize on key words in searches. I’ve been watching this discussion since it first popped up in the G+ community.

      1. Sure did – as in “the new season of Game of Thrones is about to start”. Not sure how that’s in any way relevant to a discussion of copyright and license. Well, maybe, since you know, GoT invented dragons. :P

  13. Yikes, that article requires some serious correction. Aria is not from GoT but original work created by Louise Driggers. The whole thing is licensed under a CC-BY-NC-ND license which is pretty darn clear what it allows and doesn’t and what it requires (hint: non commercial reuse with full attribution). Please fact check that article.

    There is no “who’s right” question here. When the ebay seller downloaded the model (which he needed to do to print it) he accepted that license. He’s now violated it (two of its most defining elements actually) and hence forfeited the rights it grants. Additionally he stole the images of it for which the license didn’t even apply.

    1. Yes, I do not quite understand why this needs to be discussed, the license conditions are quite clear. We have various licenses now, for all kinds of use scenarios. Sometimes there are even several kinds of licenses available for the same item, allowing attributed use without payment for individual non-commercial use, but also unattributed commercial use – with payment then.

      Once in a while I use songs from modarchive for light shows during exhibitions. If the songs are under the modarchive license I can freely use them. If the creator chose a non-commercial CC license, they are off limits, I simply have to search for another song then.

      Funnily, a YT video of one such demonstration got flagged once by someone selling a CD with the song in question. I don’t know whether the artist didn’t mention to the CD distributor that he had released the song for free years ago or simply forgot it or never even noticed this fact, but it IS important to check under what conditions you release your creations. And people who use them really should read the accompanying license…

    2. This. There is no grey area here, no question of who is right, who is wrong. The rights associated with a copyrighted 3D model licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND is pretty straightforward, and frankly, pretty damn easy to comply with. The photos of the models aren’t CC licensed at all, so that’s even more clear cut.

      Even the most cursory reading of the facts here would suggest the seller is, at best, doing something legally very stupid. If I were them, I would start my morning tomorrow by chatting to a lawyer.

    3. Original? really?!? you’ve never seen a dragon that looks like that before? Say on every D&D game box, story books, posters, etc,,
      So how much 5%? 12% do I have to change Aira to have an original art work? Aira looks more like a composite (derivative?) of other previous works.

  14. Oh boo hoo, how would you feel if you found your team’s entire CAD application on ebay being sold by some guy in South Africa? You’d just laugh and redirect the dumber or more annoying support requests to him.

    The point being that, speaking from experience, there are different forms of justice and the poetic kind is the best, following that the poisoned chalice strategy is very effective too, even if it is somewhat vindictive.

    1. If I….
      “found my team’s entire CAD application on ebay being sold by some guy in South Africa”
      … I would feel like an idiot and a terrible business person for having uploaded my team’s entire CAD application on the internet in a way that made it trivial for anyone to recreate it. But that’s just me.

      1. Nah, you are just a mindless idiot who doesn’t even know what FOSS and GPL is. The point was that we had rights that we could enforce but kicking turds just makes your boots stink and we have better things to do than clean boots.

        1. “mindless idiot” `?? How about you look in the mirror? Because you left out a _very_ important part in the original post _and_ still haven’t explained why you’d be upset or even care at all IF YOU RELEASED THE SOFTWARE SO THAT ANYONE CAN SELL IT!

          Fuck off.

  15. The seller could be nice and attribute the origin of the work to her. But she shared it , in a public site, for people to download and use. So she can´t really complain of some people abusing it.
    If she wanted to show her work, but not have it easily reproduced ( that is the intention of the thingiverse site ) then she could have just published pictures of her work, and those real admirers would ask her for the files to reproduce it, and those could then be sent at her discretion.

    1. Sure, the fact that abuse HAPPENS is to be expected. But, provided she didn’t put the files in the public domain, the design remains hers and she gets to complain (in court if necesary) if the licence rules were not followed.

  16. First off, the CC allows derivative works and licenses use. However the NC license restricts sale. if it was just CC then it would be less of a legal argument (attribution notwithstanding).

    Second, the CC license applies to DERIVITIVE works. whether those works are 3d printed, or modified in cad, etc. does not matter. If the original work is used in any shape or form to create a new work, it is a derivative, and that derivative must comply with the terms of the license.

    Third, Copyright holders have the right to pursue or not pursue violations of their works. If they want to allow shapeways to print her object, but block uses from some jerk on ebay, she’s allowed to do it.

    Fourth, The items is a work of art, and art can be copywritten. just as you see low poly models of pokemon on thingiverse because reproductions within a certain degree of accuracy is breaking copyright. Copyright for art is AUTOMATIC, so regardless of the CC license is legally binding, the owner still retains her original copyright.

    Public work, or public art is explicitly released as so (again, a license is applied), or the copyright has expired. Putting something on the internet, and applying a non-commercial license does not constitute as public. That’s like you can record NFL games and replay them at whim, or sell copies just because it was broadcast for free over the air. (good luck with that).

    And finally, the model has NOTHING to do with Game of Thrones. zip. nada. fix your article and do some research next time.

    1. Hey HackJack – who exactly should she license her original artwork from? GoT has **nothing** to do with this creation – it was simply added by the eBay seller to drive more interest to his sale……

    2. That is between Jordan and whomever created the dragon in the first place.

      Creating the 3D model is “artwork” just like creating a PCB from a schematic is copyright-able artwork.

      1. is it still “artwork” if you copy another piece of art? If I publish my original electrical schematic/design online and you make “original” PCB from it without permission can you copyright the artwork?

  17. Yes I think the article is missing a few key points. The dragon is not from Game of thrones.

    For objects like the dragon which would count as ‘sculptures’ and therfore get automatic copyright. Whether they are in plastic or CAD format, makes no odds. You cannot copy the design without a license from the copyright holder.

    If the object is licensed under CC-BY-SA and you don’t give attribution, you don’t have a license and are infringing the copyright.
    If the license is CC-BY-NC you can’t sell it. You can’t even print it for someone and charge them. If you do then you don’t have a license and are infringing copyright.

    It appears the seller is infringing copyright in both of these cases. Even if the law doesn’t agree, ethically the seller is disregarding the designers wishes. That’s the issue.

    There’s some awesome posts on the legal issues here

    I do think if object designers don’t want the object used commercially, they should register a logo as a trademark and embed it into the design.

        1. Neither the GPL nor CC really need lawyers to defend the licenses. Since if you violate the license you are doing copyright infringement by being outside the terms of the copyright grant. If you claim in court that GPL or CC is invalid and not legally binding, again copyright infringement.

  18. Copyright is about publishing intellectual property (for example a book), but retaining the right to earn money from creating (more) copies.

    Someone who owns the copyright to a work, may set rules under which he or she allows actions that copyright rules would otherwise prohibit. The GPL for example states that you may copy and redistribute binaries of the source code (normally prohibited by copyright law) PROVIDED that you provide the new owners of those binaries access to the source code.

    In the case at hand, Jordan published a work to which she has copyright. Even if the show or whatever owns the copyright on the character (and could possibly ask her not to publish HER work) the copyright on the blender artwork is hers. Standard copyright rules apply: You are NOT allowed to make copies. Neither of the digital files neither in the real world (a copy is a copy!).

    Now the CC licence kicks in: You ARE granted permission to copy, without the hassle of obtaining permission from the copyright holder, under certain conditions. Conditions like: “you’re not allowed to make money” are entirely reasonable.

    Normal copyright restricts the rights of those having access to “a copy” very much. So suppose I have a Stephen King novell here. Say I want to put it on my tablet. Copyright law says: NO! I get to contact mr King and negotiate. He will surely agree to: “if you pay $8 to Amazon, you can have your copy on your tablet” (That’s the regular kindle price at Amazon for at least one novell from him). Or he might feel generous and say: “fine, no charge since you have a hardcopy”. But the conditions, payment or no payment, just this format or also that format, are up to the owner of the copyright. In the case of CC or GPL licences, the owner of the copyright has already granted you SOME options under SOME restrictions before you even got access to the source material. But that does not change the rights of the copyright owner to dictate the rules.

    To counter the “but thingyverse is commercial too”: If that is the case, they might be breaking the copyright law too. But that does not change that ebay-store-owner is breaking the law/licence. But if Jordan, the copyright holder is fine with said commercial use, then she has the option to let it be. Just like Stephen King is probably fine with Amazon creating new digital copies of his work. The negotiations for him being OK with that probably include something to do with dollars, whereas Jordan’s deal with Thingyverse has only to do with “publicity”.

    1. So if I write a book about a person who makes a time machine and travels back in time……I can stop all publications about time travel because they are derivatives? The dragon in question looks like a composite/derivative of other dragons previously created.

  19. Let’s say I’ve got some notes for a music piece. I go to a bar, I sit at the piano and play it for money. I record myself plaing and sell the recordings.

    CAD files seem to be something like shee t music. And I’d expect that simmilar rules apply for “performances” of both.

  20. “Lawyer up” is the only way to resolve these things and establish jurisprudence we can build off of for the future. Yes, that costs money. People seem able to pull it together for some garbage Kickstarter vaporware, but seemingly are unable or unwilling when it comes to protecting themselves and their rights.

  21. This has some interesting ramifications. I’m not a lawyer, but it makes me think.

    1) Someone writes a paper, makes it into a PDF, and marks it as CC-BY-NC-ND.

    2) You download the paper and print it on your HP laser printer. HP made money selling you the printer, but no one would really think this was an issue.

    3) You download the paper and send it to Kinko’s. They print it. They made money providing you a service to print the paper. Did Kinko’s violate the license? I don’t think most people would have a problem with this.

    4) Kinko’s gets so many requests to print some CC-BY-NC-ND documents, that they print up stacks of them and when they see you sent in the PDF file to print, they just hand you one that is already printed. That’s a little grayer maybe?

    5) Kinko’s takes the stack of documents and puts them on the counter to give away. That’s fine.

    6) Kinko’s takes the stack of documents and sells them. Even grayer.

    7) Repeat the above, but Kinko’s fails to attribute the document (which is hard to imagine since the document probably has an attribution page, but play along).

    8) Repeat the above, but the paper is actually fan fiction for Star Trek and commercial use violates the CBS license. (Yes, I know Aria is not a dragon on GoT, but I’m just thinking out loud here).

    It is clear to me that no one objects to me printing model X on my printer. And if I go to a library and pay some fee to use the printer, that’s probably ok too. I think it is #5/7 that is really the core issue here. You are making money from people who don’t know it is someone else’s work and you failed to abide by the license. The real question would be if you fixed #7 how do you feel about #5.

    The FSF software in the old days allowed you to charge a “reasonable fee” for distribution (e.g., the cost of a mag tape or CD, or whatever). So someone could say “I’ll send you a copy of emacs if you give me $4 for a blank CD.” But you couldn’t say “I’ll send you a copy of emacs if you give me $250.” Granted that’s a little slippery (cost of CD, postage, my time valued at $750/hour, etc.). But most reasonable people understood that the fee had to be fair market for the media and postage.

    From Kinko’s point of view, if #3 is ok then why isn’t #6 as long as they give attribution? The courts didn’t agree at least once. I recall that some music service would read the UPC off your CDs and then make the music available on their service to you even though they didn’t rip it from your CD. So it was legal to rip a perfect digital song copy and store it, even though every user that did that would then have identical copies. It was not legal to say “Here’s the file you would have gotten if you ripped your CD and everyone uses the same file.” Hopefully, the courts have wised up since then, but maybe not.

    I don’t have a point here. Just thinking out loud.

    1. Actually, you could sell Emacs. Even branded and packaged (under a different name and with attribution though). GPL does not say anything about money. It just says that the recipient has all the rights you had (like the right to get the source code). The question then is who would buy from you, when anybodycan ask some other poor customer of yours to give them the product for free (which they would be allowed to do according to GPL).

      The distribution fee limitation was not for the Emacs itself, but for the source code. It was meant to prevent a scheme where you derive from Emacs, sell it (totally fine) and then charge $10000 per source code request (making the source code provision essentially disappear).

    2. Take a JPEG file of say Nemo from “Finding Nemo” to your local walmart and ask them to make a nice big color print of it, because you want a wall picture for your daughter’s bedroom, cause Nemo is her favorite character. Walmart will refuse citing copyright law, been there tried that.

      1. But this is totally arbitrary; it only works for disney because they’re so well known that the guy in walmart recognises it as disney’s. Find something on DA that’s copyright, and walmart will not recognise it, and will print it happily.

  22. This is crap. The seller is providing the same service as Stratsys or any of the other fab houses are providing. The person printing the thing out deserves to be compensated for materials, machine time and labor. (plastic, energy use, packaging, effort involved, a premium for compensation, etc.)

    If you put something in the public domain you lose certain expectations for control and this goes beyond which particular license is chosen- It’s a question of realistic expectations for the world in which we live. If you make a design and are producing your own models for sale it’s one thing, but to put it out there and say ‘you can only have one if you have a 3D Printer and print it yourself for your own use’ is questionable. ‘You can do it yourself for free, but if you pay someone else then I want my cut too!’ …all this does is increase the cost for the end buyer. If you expect to profit from your design then put the files on a site that is built for commerce. If you don’t want someone else to use your design then don’t put the files up, simple as that. Nothing stopping the designer from making their own eBay auctions.

    1. Providing a service is different than providing a product. The seller is representing themselves as a seller of that particular item, which means they are using it commercially. If they were saying “3d printing service, 3 cents per meter!”, then it would be different.

      1. Then you get into real subjective territory real quick… the layperson that doesn’t know anything about 3D printing is going to have a real hard time quantifying how $cost/length will relate to what they are looking at.

        In this respect I’ll have to come down firmly on the side of the seller for them to just say ‘$XX.XX I’ll print this out and ship it to you’. When you go to the post office do they quote the shipment as ‘We will ship your parcel at a rate of $XX.XX per gram per mile’?

        1. If you go to a local ‘store’ for raw materials and ask them for delivery it will indeed go down like that..
          As the post service is a bit bigger and does this on a daily basis and it is it’s main purpose, they naturally dumbed this down a bit and made some simple flat rates for you.
          Rest assured, you’ll get different rates for different weights/sizes/destinations that you could translate to $/(km*m3*kg).

        1. The difference is you are placing your item in Stratasys’s sandbox, so they have rules (not legally tested that I am aware of) that say to put things in their sandbox you give them certain non-exclusive rights, such as the ability to print the design. This does not mean that other people get the same rights when pulling the design from Stratasys’s sandbox, in this case they have to abide the terms of the CC license or negotiate other terms from the artist.

    2. Nonsense. These models are not in the public domain, they are publicly shared copyrighted works given under a particular license. Stratasys has been given a separate license by the creator, independent of the general CC license given to everybody else, to print these models. Nobody “deserves to be compensated” for reproducing work that they produce based on violation on an individual’s (very reasonable) license for non-commercial use.

  23. Is it a service, or a product?

    About 1995, one local store was offering “download on demand”, showing a directory of software that they’d download for a fee. Quite useful, right on the cusp of the Internet being very accessible. I could get the freeware or shareware software I wanted.

    Didn’t Walnut Creek do this, issue CDROMs of software repositories?

    Even a few years ago, I sent some “company” money for some Linux DVDs, me still on dialup so it was worth a small amount to get it fast.

    Most people don’t have 3D printers. If they see something they want, they have to find a printer they can use, or pay someone to print it.

    Then really, it’s about price. The cost of plastic, the use of the printer, the time involved. Isn’t it worth a bit of money for the convenience of someone else printing it?

    Obviously “too much” is too much, but where is that point?

    On the other hand, if the printer is claiming the creative work, that is different. I don’t want anything I write copied without my name attached.


  24. In common with all licenses is the requirement that the source is properly attributed. If they are selling the model then they can sell it but they are required by the terms of the contract to attribute the source. Small thing to ask, but big thing to leave out.

  25. When you uploaded your items onto Thingiverse for mass distribution, you lost all rights to them whatsoever. They entered what is known in the legal world as “public domain”. The single exception to public domain rules are original works of art. No court in the USA has yet ruled a CAD model an original work or art.”

    It is actually very hard to release works into the public domain which is why the need for creative commons. You do not have to declare copyright anymore. I’d send ebay takedown notice. The seller is probably also mistaken on the work of art. And the remark about the Israeli company, another company violating the licence does not make you violating the licence proper.

  26. Maybe the files were hosted on another site with no license restrictions by a third party (that would be my defence) . Once the files are out there attempts at control are pretty futile

    1. So once an item is stolen, let the perp who stolen go?

      Even if it was via 3rd party, once informed it should come down or be held liable for every minute after the notification.

  27. I think this is, or should be, the cruft of the matter.

    He is not selling the model file — but is selling a fully printed model.
    The listing also mentioned that they could print it in any material, etc upon request.

    It sounds like the receipt of payment is, purely, for receiving a fully printed model.

    I could see a problem/wrongdoing if the person was re-selling, only, the STL files.

    This is an inherent problem with making content freely available on the Internet.

    And yes…perhaps the eBay seller could link the source of the STL files.
    And adds a disclaimer that the STL files could be obtained for free.

  28. So the ebay seller was shut down, world rejoyce! On the “thingiverse can print this and me not”, you give Thinghiverse right to reproduce the model in the eula. The E-bay seller is not in any way affiliated with thinghiverse, so wrong point.
    Anyway you can still arrange from the original artist a different license, more liberal than the thingiverse one, and pledge a part of the sales or a fixed sum. Maybe ask for a commercial model and pay 50 upfront or offer 30% of sales profit or something like it. Usually the owner would make a reasonable counter offer or ignore it.

  29. CC’s pretty simple, isn’t it?
    He just has to attribute the work to the original creator and he’s good as gold, and can do whatever the hell he wants with it, right?
    If so, then the only thing wrong he could be doing, and I haven’t checked his ebay pages, is not provide a link back to thingiverse/put the creators name in the listing title.
    I was skeptical of the guy at first, but he’s warmed on me. Put something on your own website with an agreement, fine, consider it copyright, put it on a sharing site, and then set it to CC after that, that’s a different story.

    1. Apparently the initial listing also says “No derivatives” which is what prevents people making their own Mickey Mouse themed products. Even if Disney doesn’t have a Mickey themed litter box to copy, they will sue anyone who makes one on the the ‘derivitives’ clause.

      1. “no derivatives” has nothing to do with why Disney can sue and is not a good example to use for this use-case.
        Disney will sue because they own the copyright and trademark on Mickey Mouse’s name/likeness and, as far as I know, the have reserved all rights to themselves.

        In other words….no one but Disney can use Mickey Mouse’s name or likeness, without permission and
        that is simply not the case with Thinigverse.


      Attribution: failed to do that
      NonCommercial: selling things on ebay is pretty commercial
      NoDerivatives: well, he’s not making any changes to the models, so there’s at least this

      The whole point of these licenses is to allow people to share work easily, without having to put everything about it into the public domain. This seller seems to be under the mistaken impression that 3D models aren’t copyrightable – they are, at least in the US and the UK – and 2/3 of the license terms don’t apply to him. Because…profit?

      Fuck this guy.

  30. Here is the deal. There are two options here. Sue or shut the hell up.

    You open source people complain too much. You gave away everything it takes to make your thing and then you get all butt hurt when someone actually makes it. Be happy that someone thinks your thing is worth making. If you wanted to monetize your thing then you should have done it yourself. You may be a great artist but you are a crappy business person.
    GPL, CC, whatever. It’s all worthless unless you make the legal precedent and actually sue to protect it. Instead the only thing that actually happens is a lot of people crying on the internet. With all the internet crybaby outrage you would think that people would be taking legal action to enforce open source licenses all over the place but it just about never happens.

    Here would be a fun exercise.
    1) List all the open source license violations you can find.
    2) List all the court cases that found in the favor of someone trying to enforce any of the open source licenses.

    Let me know how that turns out.

    1. Very quick search turned out:

      Except for the infamous SCO (who acted as a patent / copyright troll) all the mentioned cases were settled or ruled in favor of the work “owner”.

      The sad fact of life is that it takes an insane amount of money to go to court in the US. Even more when you are actually not an US citizen. But EFF helps with GPL enforcement.

  31. I want to make my designs and products available to the world, and have loads of IP in the maritime and domestic water industries. These two high impact areas could do a lot to help developing populations live better and industrial nations live more lightly. Unfortunately, my direct experience with open source hardware anything, and the GPL in general, shows it to be more work with higher costs and risks for the inventor than a traditional product development route. Many have said a closed source project will eventually die from lack of community support. This may be true, but the resources and restrictions poured into a properly licensed GPL project are far beyond the benefits to society if I can’t get my product to market. The only way I can see a major new open source hardware project taking off is if the project moves from a successful closed source design to a open source, or if the GPL becomes enforceable. Personally, losing almost six figures in the past two years because someone refused to honor their GPL responsibilities on a project I used for a core functionality in a totally different type and class of product. At the same time this company actively slanders sellers of their open source design saying they are stealing. They also still refuse to release the newest hardware design even though it has been in their commercial production for two years. GPL is broken so often it has lost the minimal legal force it once had and most people licensing under GPL have no ideas of their responsibilities. GPL is a mess and more and more people are going private while still taking input from public groups. GPL is good in theory and a mess in practice.

  32. “3. How would you feel if you found your CAD file for sale on his eBay store?”

    I’ve experienced seeing my work show up around the Internet, usually stamped with some site’s URL and surrounded by ads. I was once even accused of having ripped content I created off of someone else! At first I felt offended, then I just sort of eye-rolled at it all, and finally just ignored it altogether. I guess I asked myself how badly I wanted to be Right, and the answer was “not ~that~ badly.”

    It’s a shitty situation to be in. And I don’t agree that someone should get a free pass for the low low price of just pointing out that someone else is ~even worse~.

  33. Money money money. I keep hearing Pink Floyd playing in the background. I take the same viewpoint about this as I do music, which is why I am commenting on this today. I really see two types of people here, capitalists, and non-capitalist. If you want to make money as a non-capitalist, good luck mate. I have never found a path in this tight ass world that allows that. If you want to be a capitalist, why would you ever release your “beloved artwork” into the public realm. And finally, if someone is making money and you are butthurt because you are not, defeat them. Do more and better, make better ads, and provide better customer service. If it is your artwork that is giving them a dollar, imagine how much your artwork could give you.

    This is about when I tell these “bands” if you want money, go tour. Get some fans, get some money, get some ways to make it. You wanna make money off your one off of a soundscape, good luck. I do not see why the same does not apply to anyone doing 3d printing and art. You want the money, then show some work ethic and go out there and get some. Some one rips off your publicly released piece, well… it starts to sort itself all out at this point doesn’t it. This guy with his ebay store will be NO (in big giant capital letters (pun intended) ) NO competition to a wage supporting commission piece.

  34. 1: Not illegal, should be but isn’t. I can’t say I don’t do this though, I print models as requested for a charge, but I think offering other peoples specific stuff is sketchy.

    2: Doesn’t matter, not crediting another person is about as scummy as it gets.

    3: Well, since I’m under an NDA and all my cad is owned by my employer, a little irritated since there’d be a lot of questions.

    1. >Not illegal, should be but isn’t.
      It’s piracy. He’s technically a bootlegger. In the US this is called copyright infringement and it’s taken pretty seriously if the IP belongs to a big corp like Disney or Warner Bros. This is just stealing from normal people though so he’ll probably get away with it.

      >Doesn’t matter
      This is literally the only requirement of the C&C license.

      Attribution is the currency of the information economy. All he needs to do is put a link to thingiverse in the item description. Then he goes from an asshole taking credit and profiting from others work, to some guy with a makerbot running a printing service (though still kind of racist by the looks of things)

  35. I’m not even going to bother wading into the legal quagmire. This guy is an asshole, and I knew the second I started reading his block of text– some of which reads like some crazy manifesto –the other day that he was an asshole. He sounds like a smug little prick who is just ever-so-pleased with himself for getting one over on everybody. Just reading that drivel he was typing makes me wish I could hit him in the face…with a flaming brick.

    But, you know, for the record, some of those models are licensed NON-COMMERCIAL, and he is SELLING THEM. I think that’s pretty clear-cut. The owners of such objects have made attempts to inform him only to get insane walls of text about how licenses are imaginary constructs, or somesuch. I would love to see someone with nothing but money and time on their hands take him to court for shits and giggles, and just rend him asunder, for the good of humanity.

  36. So, hypothetical question here: suppose someone was to download a photo licensed as Creative Commons – Attribution – Noncommercial from flickr and suppose they were to sell prints of it on eBay. This is a situation that has happened before, and there’s very little doubt that it’s wrong as well as a great deal of successful legal enforcement against similar schemes.

    How does adding an extra dimension change things? :)

  37. I got tired of reading the wall of text above so forgive me if someone brought this up.

    This reminds me of a “coder for hire” site. Not sure if they exist nor of the name anymore. I think it was literally or something lame like that. The idea was to bid on odd jobs from people wanting work done. From the site I bid on and wrote a game engine map tool, a flexible DVD startup program, the framework for a website, etc. I naively thought I could create a portfolio for a future position somewhere doing this.

    Eventually I noticed a particular East Indian user under bidding every job I bid on. More interestingly, I spotted many of the same “please help me get my homework done” posting done on a number of developer sites with *exactly* the same description as every job he won. On a whim, I put up a fake job and picked his bid. Lo and behold, an identical “help me” post appeared on another site where correct answers are awarded by points. With my *exact* test data. Once the dude got working code from some poor sap for free, he would turn around and get his money from the poor sap paying for it. No original work whatsoever. I doubt the guy could write a simple VB If statement.

    I complained to the site but the answer I got back was the same as this. It wasn’t illegal.

    I dropped the site like a bad habit. Worked my way where I wanted to under my own terms.

    Thing is, this sort of shit sucks, but it happens all the time. As soon as something is published, someone runs off with it. I accepted a long time ago that as soon as I publish anything, I should be prepared for someone to take it for their own gain. Even more so without credit.

    But I stood on a lot of people’s shoulders to get where I am now. So it’s really hard to give back to the community knowing this sort of thing happens. It’s a catch 22. It sucks.

    1. Earlier reply didnt go through dunno why. Posting again, shortet version.

      Obviously taking this on a legal basis is a hairball.

      From a solution perspective:

      There is a demand for these models.
      Some guy makes a markup by producing and distributing them
      Authors are unhappy

      So wtf. Let’s build a solution that proposes to print the models “at cost” and gives the right credits to the author.

      The smartguy will be out of business. Problem solved.

  38. The outcome of a legal approach being irrelevant or impractical, why dont we, the open source community, respond to that subtely.

    The point is, the designer is in for recognition or just lobbying for open source, or sometimes a giveaway for cross selling / PR

    The offender is in for the money.

    Having the offender diffuse the works “at cost” is a good thing ! It makes the design and the designer known (better if the tv page is cited :-)

    Though, having the offender adding a huge markup is bad, because it destroys the likelyhood of open source of other designs.

    This said, we as a community can respond to that with a “poison pill”, if we offer the same print at cost (we’d need a website that gives costing baselines), we’d just force the offender to get back to a role where he becomes a “good thing”.

    Also, by doing this, we hijack the offender’s efforts to make 3dp and the designs known.

    We can also imagine plugging to this optional stuff like “give an extra dollar to a contest prize” and let end users tell how / where the open source community can help, hence creating a vertuous circle. With side benefit, the winner earns some cash, so, he may be more willing to have others print his stuff and forget about it.

    I’d love to push this idea further – and if it gets nice responses, well i’d love to teamup and make it happen. Bump me a tweet @Fivefoots.

    My question is, is doing just that legal ? (There might be a few issues with commercial law / competition)


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