Tell the Copyright Office not to criminalize using unapproved goop in a 3D printer

3D printing giant Stratasys has asked the US Copyright Office to deny a proposal that would legalize jailbreaking your 3D printer in order to use your own feedstock.

Under Section 1201 of 1998's Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it's a felony to break "an effective means of access control," such as those used to check whether the consumables you put in your 3D printers have been approved by the manufacturer -- that way, you can't buy cheaper materials from third parties. Every three years, the Copyright Office entertains proposals for exceptions to this rule, and this year one petitioner asked for the right to use unapproved materials in their printers.

They're not asking Stratasys to honor their warranties if they do so, or to help them do so. All they're asking for is the right to use their property in the manner of their choosing.

Stratasys says that no one really wants to do this. Today is the last day to reply to them. Here's how you do that.

The biggest objection to this request came from the 3D printing company Stratasys. Among other things, Stratasys dismisses the idea that anyone actually wants to use unapproved materials in their 3D printers, or that legal uncertainty would reduce the chances of someone feeling comfortable doing so:

“The only alleged evidence of any person experiencing uncertainty [around using unapproved materials in a 3D printer] consists of a single quote from a comment on a web forum . . . [a]t a minimum, this comment is merely conclusory or anecdotal evidence that is insufficient to meet the substantial adverse impact standard required by the statute.”

The coalition fighting for a right to access and repair digital objects needs your help to show that there is more than a single person on a web forum interested in using materials in 3D printers without permission. We need you to tell the Copyright Office that copyright law should not stand in the way of using whatever material you choose in a 3D printer.

Please click here to weigh in, and please spread the word!

Do You Really Own Your 3D Printer? [Make]

(Image: 3D Printed Minecraft! Kevin Jarrett, CC-BY)

Notable Replies

  1. Wait a minute, have they applied DRM to inkjet printers? Because there's a rich third-party market for ink I'm sure the manufacturers would happily monopolize. While they're at it they could make refilling the cartridge impossible.

  2. Think forward. The $100,000 machine of today is a cheap ebay score of tomorrow. It's then when the replacement materials will become truly important.

  3. Kevin says:

    Choosing the type or brand of filament that I use in my* 3D printer is akin to choosing what songs I load onto my MP3 player. The manufacturer of the MP3 player doesn't get to dictate the artists or studios who's music I can listen to and, by the same token, I can choose the material I extrude through my 3D printer. Void the warranty, take away support -- by all means. But the * above denotes the printer belongs to me once I purchase it. Aside from this, they should embrace a diverse community of hackers and makers who may use your device instead of being their adversary. The rewards will be far greater than any imaginary drawbacks.

  4. Stratasys? Never gunna happen. Their primary customers are medical institutions and engineering firms. Buying first-party consumables was already factored into their decision to spend $200k on a printer.

  5. Hah hah... not going to happen. Not only is the company not interested, that community would never trust them.

    The original MakerBots were derived from and nearly identical in design to open-source/open-hardware RepRap designs. MakerBot then turned their printers closed-source and started patenting iterations they made on their printers. And keep in mind, this community is one that only came into existence because the original patents on this type of 3D printing expired.

    MakerBot has been beaming a big FU to the printing community since long ago. Trying to DRM in filament is far from unexpected.

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