3-D Printing vs Intellectual Property

open quoteDigital technology is reinventing our whole world, in service of you and me. It’s free enterprise on steroids. It’s bypassing the gatekeepers and empowering each of us to invent our own civilization for ourselves, according to our own specifications.

The promise of the future is nothing short of spectacular — provided that those who lack the imagination to see the potential here don’t get their way. Sadly, but predictably, some of the biggest barriers to a bright future are capitalists themselves who fear the future.

A good example is the current hysteria over 3-D printing. This technology has moved with incredible speed from the realm of science fiction to the real world, seemingly in a matter of months. You can get such printers today for as low as $400. These printers allow objects to be transported digitally and literally printed into existence right before your very eyes.

It’s like a miracle! It could change everything we think we know about the transport of physical objects. Rather than sending crates and boats around the world, in the future, we will send only lightweight digits. The potential for bypassing monopolies and entrenched interests is spectacular.

Here is what Andrew Myers reported in Wired magazine last week:

“Last winter, Thomas Valenty bought a MakerBot — an inexpensive 3-D printer that lets you quickly create plastic objects. His brother had some Imperial Guards from the tabletop game Warhammer, so Valenty decided to design a couple of his own Warhammer-style figurines: a two-legged war mecha and a tank.

“He tweaked the designs for a week until he was happy. ‘I put a lot of work into them,’ he says. Then he posted the files for free downloading on Thingiverse, a site that lets you share instructions for printing 3-D objects. Soon other fans were outputting their own copies.

“Until the lawyers showed up.

“Games Workshop, the U.K.-based firm that makes Warhammer, noticed Valenty’s work and sent Thingiverse a takedown notice, citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Thingiverse removed the files, and Valenty suddenly became an unwilling combatant in the next digital war: the fight over copying physical objects.”

There we have it. The American Chamber of Commerce — the supposed defender of free enterprise — is in a meltdown panic about new technology, determined to either crush 3-D printing in its crib or at least to make sure it doesn’t grow past its toddler period. close quote (Read more)

The war on progress continues.

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