It’s not just miniature companies like Games Workshop that are starting to attack 3D printing. Honda is also going after 3D priting files for things that consumers *could* purchase from them.
If you’re not familiar with the types of things people are printing, think about small car parts. Normally you’d have to go to the local store or order directly from Honda, with 3D printing, you sort of skip that altogether.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening.
Honda Declares War on 3d Printing
In the Prusa 3D forum, there is a giant thread of people talking about how they got their models removed by the admin. As you can see above, the admin came in and explained to them why they had to go through and remove basically everything.
We also can’t blame Prusa, as fighting a giant company like Honda would not be an easy task and could easily spell their doom. Especially since they did this on purpose to hit everything at once and either force Prusa to fight it all, or just delete them all.
This also comes down doubly hard on Prusa because they actually make 3D printers. Obviously, they want people to make more files, but Honda might actually be hitting them harder because they make printers. The problem becomes even more convoluted when you bring in the idea of IP, it gets so complex.
As not only does it infringe if you use the word Honda, but it also infringes if you use a proprietary shape, style, or idea. Then, it also infringes IP if you just use something that they have used in the past.
So, it would be nearly impossible for Prusa to actually make the case for individual files. Especially considering there are four pages of comments on files that got removed.
The DIY Scene
This is all sad because 3D printing has been amazing for the DIY car scene. Can’t get a part for 6 months from the dealer? No worries! Just find a file and print it yourself. Those days might be coming to a close for Honda owners, but this could show how the industry is moving as a whole.
We wouldn’t be surprised to see more manufacturers jump on this banning trend sooner than later. However, just like with mini printing, there is so much gray area and people will continue to make their own parts.
Then, this starts getting into something even stickier, the right to repair. Which has been a growing debate, when you look at companies like John Deere and Tesla. We won’t get too deep into that, but if you are just using the parts to repair your own and maybe your friends’ cars, why is this an issue?
Well, how do you stop it there and keep it going from mass production? John Deere has stopped all this by basically not even allowing people to work on their own tractors, but as we said, that’s a huge issue for another day. Either way, it looks like Honda might be following suit too in a way…
The Miniature Side of 3d Prinitng Isn’t Much Better
Again, the issue with 3D printing is that it directly competes with Games Workshop in a lot of ways. Like the example above, if someone makes a direct copy of a video game (or close enough), there’s no way the company with the copyright can let it see the light of day.
However, sci-fi and fantasy miniatures have so much more gray areas. How can you say you own futuristic space soldiers? When someone makes a one-to-one copy it’s obvious when they use elements that are specifically copyrighted or a registered trademark in general (what we know as Intellectual property).
But if they do not, how does someone like Games Workshop say it’s too close?
Well, that’s why it’s so confusing. The article from Game Industry had a perfect quote for anyone looking to make something that could be thought of as infringement:
The bottom line is — if you create something that is not entirely original and uses third-party IP rights — without that party’s permission — you need to accept that there is a degree of risk in what you are doing.
Will Miniatures Manufacturers Ever Embrace the Tech?
An example of a company actually embracing “new” file sharing tech is Apple with MP3s and Apple Music, and yes were talking about the 2000’s. By allowing folks to buy MP3s they bascially curbed large scale pirating of songs.
However, back to 3d printing, the problem could very well be that the tech doesn’t exist right now to actually lock an STL file down.
Whereas Apple can stop you from sending an MP3 to someone else after paying for it. If GW actually just sold the STL files for a Rhino, you could theoretically just send it to all your friends, and boom, they received about $5 and gave out an infinite number of Rhinos.
With that said, the industry, whether that be for cars or miniatures or whatever, needs to come around at some point. Because with all the advances in tech, coupled with supply chain issues and price increases, you know people will just keep printing things.
At this point, the industry seems to be moving faster than companies can deal with but at some point, they will have to try and embrace it.
If you look at Modiphius, they also recently started selling STL files. Is that showing at least parts of the industry are embracing the new tech? We’ll have to see, but they can’t just constantly turn a blind eye to it and hope it goes away with litigation.
That didnt work with MP3’s and we don’t think it will work with STL files either…
Do you think companies should be able to stop the DIY scene, or will tech emerge to make this all just work like with Apple in the 2000’s?
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