Popularity of 3D Printing Suggests Need for New Laws

Category: Technology

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures commonly known as digital rights management or DRM, that control access to copyrighted works. The DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet, extending the reach of copyright, while limiting the liability of the providers of online services for copyright infringement by their users.
3D printing, has led to an explosion of creativity and innovation and media coverage of it has led to public debate about its potential uses and abuses. Questions like, can 3D printers make dangerous objects, or could 3D printed organs make us immortal are being asked. For example intellectual property (IP) policymakers are watching this space.
Why is it important to know about this? A number of takedowns have been issued relative to the growing field of 3D printing prompting many to call for a review of the law.
Takedown is when content is removed from a website at the request of the owner of the content or the owner of the copyright of the content.  You can learn more on this topic at:


3-D printing raises a number of regulatory challenges in relation to intellectual property protection. Just as the digitization of creative content has forced change within the creative industries and fuelled tensions around existing copyright law, similar debates are likely to emerge in relation to 3-D printing.
Given the global scale of manufacturing, however, the stakes in this debate may be even greater. 3-D printing is both a manufacturing and a digital technology and as such it makes the unauthorized copying of objects easier. Like other digital files, CAD blueprints are easy to copy and difficult to track. Copying is also made easier by the availability of low-cost 3-D scanners, which enable anyone to scan an off-the-shelf product, create a 3-D blueprint and distribute it online. Mechanisms that facilitate the licensing and legitimate sharing of design files will play a major role in meeting this challenge.
An interesting case may evolve from Matter and Form’s new  Bevel, a 3D attachment for smartphones that could make 3D content creation accessible to anyone.  They are launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund development. You can learn more about the product and related Law in the Making issues at:


To view a video on the product go to:


More information and questions from top law firm Skadden Arps Meagher & Flom


In he tension between historical practices and creative innovation, where do you come down?