May 1, 2015 | By Simon

It’s no secret that one of the biggest headaches that we’ve learned to live with in the world of 3D printing are various copyright hang-ups ranging from Intellectual Property rights to scanning and replicating public domain artwork, among others.  Now, a new copyright issue has been raised that is less concerned about what you choose to print - and more about what you use to print it with.

Now, 3D printer manufacturer (and owner of MakerBot) Stratasys has requested that the US Copyright Office denies a proposal that would allow for the legalization of jailbreaking 3D printers in order to use a third-party feedstock.  Considering how many new types of filament have continually been released over the past few months alone - including filament that’s approved for use in Space and filament that’s been made from recycled CDs and DVDs - this could actually turn into a larger issue that if it had come up even just a year ago.  

Stratasys argues that under Section 1201 of 1998's Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it’s considered a felony to break “an effective means of access control,” including means used to verify if your filament has been approved by the manufacturer of your 3D printer - this ultimately prevents the ability for users to buy cheaper materials from third parties online or elsewhere.   

The US Copyright Office cycles through proposals to change rules every three years, and Stratasys has been among the most prominent objectors for allowing the use of “jailbroken” 3D printers.  Among other things, the Minnesota-based 3D printer manufacturer “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 to do so,” says the Digital Right to Repair initiative, who are helping lead the effort to allow consumers the ability to fix their own products.  

Those who have been in support of “jailbreaking” their 3D printers understand that it could forfeit any warranty attached with a printer - however they just simply want to have the right to use their property as they see fit.

“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.”

Currently, there is one day left for those in support of using materials in 3D printers without permission from a corporate entity.  The Digital Right to Repair initiative have made it easy to voice concerns and share stories in an effort to “tell the Copyright Office that copyright law should not stand in the way of using whatever material you choose in a 3D printer.”  To make your voice be heard, head over to the Digital Right to Repair website.  



Posted in 3D Printing Materials


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Neutron_Man wrote at 5/3/2015 5:11:31 AM:

Steve_C: You're hilariously off-base, here. You're talking about 3D Printing as if it's all about your desktop machine - Makerbot or otherwise. You're talking about tapes/glues/sprays? None of that goes in a Stratasys unit. You're fights and rants are far away from what Stratasys is concerned about. I'd love to have lots of new materials to use, and I'd love for them to be cheaper. When I say GO on my Fortus machine, I walk away and wait (sometimes several days) for it to be done. The part is ready and perfect. I buy that reliability with Stratasys mat'l. That has a cost - and it isn't cheap. I wonder if a third party could actually achieve the reliability I need. None that I've tried have (yes, some folks have already been doing this). There's lots of open source printers out that can use whatever material you like. When I need something different (or just cheaper) I use a different machine. 3DP Unlimited has a really big open source machine, for example. Perhaps Stratasys will lose this. I think the inkjet case could be similar enough. The plastic has a dramatic impact to not just the print quality, but the machine wear and component life. This could be a big hit to warranty costs.

randy wrote at 5/2/2015 8:46:38 AM:

This sounds a little like the war over third-party ink in printers. Here's nice article about that, describing how printer manufacturers must allow you to use third-party products without voiding your warranty: Relevant snippets from aforementioned article: "The MMA [Magnuson-Moss Act] states unequivocally that a company cannot sell a product under the pretense that the consumer must purchase replacement parts, add-ons, etc., from only that particular company. This includes laser toner and inkjet cartridges that do not have the manufacturers’ “blessing”." and "These acts [Sherman & Clayton Antitrust Acts] make it illegal for any computer manufacturer to require you to use only their brand of supplies or dictate what supplies you can or cannot use. An OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), or any other manufacturer, cannot void your laptop’s warranty because you decided to use products other than theirs." Note: Those are not snippets from the laws/legal texts (which are much more verbose), rather summaries by the author of the article. Perhaps the same laws would apple to 3D printer manufacturers?

ThatGuy wrote at 5/2/2015 8:29:48 AM:

Just don't buy that printer. If they are too lazy to figure out someway to make it physically impossible- or at least difficult- to use someone elses filament, I'm not that impressed. I guess a chance for Bre to make a comment about how this is BS.. yeah, right. I think it just shows that the printers are actually the least differentiated part of the process. Designing the part and slicing the part are SO much more important than the printer. Once you dial a printer in, it does what it is told- as my 7 year old daughter says- a robot glue-gun.

JD90 wrote at 5/2/2015 6:03:32 AM:

I didn't know people were managing to bypass the encryption on high end printer systems. The costs of materials are exorbitant. Mojo's filament packs are $400/kg. Each package has a fresh hot end at that. I think ABS for UPrint is like $200/kg. It better be just absolutely perfect for that cost.

Steve_C wrote at 5/2/2015 12:41:40 AM:

What THE?!!! So, if I choose to print below or above the temperature range the filament manufacturer specifies because my experience shows me the best results occur when I do; I could face a 'breach of copyright' law suit? And what about using different tapes/glues/sprays to aid filament adhesion? I thought this 3-D printing 'thing' was supposed to be about "INNOVATION" not "creeping STAGNATION" caused by legal advisers wanting to keep their jobs by advising companies that should know better, that "they ought to protect their intellectual rights!!" If I was looking to buy a 3-D printer today, I'd be far less inclined to dive in... Compared to a couple of years ago; the 3-D printing industry seems to have lost it's 'direction', and despite all the chest thumping about 3-D printing's future, I'm seeing a much more problematic outcome for a technology I saw as worthy of embracing. Stratasys is taking 3-D printing into the abyss!! Maybe it's time for the members of the 3MF consortium to tell the morons behind this latest move to strangle innovation in the 3-D printing sphere to "back off!!" It sure seems like the words of common sense made by the people who've invested in 3-D printers is falling into earholes filled with stuff so dense that if it could be turned into filament, it'd be illegal to use due to copyright restrictions...

Ronald wrote at 5/1/2015 8:21:25 PM:

haha Just stop buying makerbot please

bill mogus wrote at 5/1/2015 7:10:44 PM:

left a comment... hope more do too

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