3D printing Jurassic Park: Copyright law, cultural institutions, and makerspaces
3D printing is a field of technology, which enabled the manufacturing of physical objects from three-dimensional digital models.
The discipline of copyright law has been challenged and disrupted by the emergence of 3D printing and additive manufacturing. 3D Printing poses questions about the subject matter protected under copyright law. Copyright law provides for exclusive economic and moral rights in respect of cultural works – such as literary works, artistic works, musical works, dramatic works, as well as other subject matter like radio and television broadcasts, sound recordings, and published editions. Copyright law demands a threshold requirement of originality. There have been sometimes issues about the interaction between copyright law and designs law in respect of works of artistic craftsmanship. In addition, 3D printing has raised larger questions about copyright infringement. There has been significant debate over the scope of copyright exceptions – such as the defence of fair dealing, and exceptions for cultural institutions. Moreover, there has been debate over the operation of digital copyright measures in respect of 3D printing. The takedown and notice system has affected services and sites, which enable the sharing of 3D printing designs. Technological protection measures – digital locks – have also raised challenges for 3D printing. The long duration of copyright protection in Australia and the United States has also raised issues in respect of 3D printing.
There has been great public policy interest into how copyright law will address and accommodate the disruptive technologies of 3D Printing. As a public policy expert at Public Knowledge, and as a lawyer working for Shapeways, Michael Weinberg has written a number of public policy papers on intellectual property and 3D Printing. Associate Professor Dinusha Mendis and her colleagues have undertaken legal and empirical research on intellectual property and 3D printing. In 2015, Professor Mark Lemley from Stanford Law School wrote about intellectual property and 3D printing in the context of work on the economics of abundance. As a practising lawyer, John Hornick has examined the topic of intellectual property and 3D printing. Comparative legal scholar Dr Angela Daly has written on the socio-legal aspects of 3D printing in 2016. The World Intellectual Property Organization in 2015 highlighted 3D printing.
3D printing has provided new opportunities for cultural institutions to redefine their activities and purposes, and engage with a variety of new constituencies. 3D printing has also highlighted deficiencies in copyright law in respect of cultural institutions. Culturally and technologically specific exceptions for libraries, archives, and cultural institutions have proven to be ill-adapted for an age of 3D printing and makerspaces. The Australian Law Reform Commission has highlighted the need to modernise Australia’s copyright laws for the digital age. Likewise, the Productivity Commission has considered the question of copyright exceptions in its study of intellectual property arrangements in 2016. The Turnbull Government has contemplated somewhat more modest copyright reforms, with the draft legislation in the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill 2016 (Cth). Libraries, galleries, museums, and archives would all benefit from flexible copyright exceptions for cultural institutions to take full advantage of the possibilities of digitisation and 3D printing.
Matthew Rimmer, “3D printing Jurassic Park: Copyright law, cultural institutions, and makerspaces,” Copyright Cortex, accessed August 9, 2020, https://copyrightcortex.org/research/3d-printing-jurassic-park-copyright-law-cultural-institutions-makerspaces.