Just3DPrint – #3dprinted Public Enemy No. 1 | 6/19/2017 UPDATE

March 10, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Original Articles

Summary of Controversy

The 3thingiverse-logo-2015D printing industry had a little controversy. This controversy revolves around a small startup in the Allentown, PA area called “Just3DPrint”. Company is founded by four college students who had a dream, “offer 3d printing services”. The controversy does not revolve around their printing service, but it involves two powerhouses, Thingiverse; a website that allows 3d modelers to share their creations for “free” in a non-commercial manner and Ebay, the largest auction website in the world.
ebayJust3DPrint are accused of grabbing 3D models from Thingiverse and selling it on Ebay. Many modelers on Thingiverse saw their creations for “sale” without their permissions and rightfully filed numerous complaints with Thingiverse and Ebay. This controversy was discussed by 3D printing news outlets and Youtubers such as Joel Telling from 3D Printing Nerd. After weeks of outraged, Just3DPrint pulled down the products from Ebay and Thingiverse is now looking into legal action.


Creative Commons Double Edge Sword


When a modeler share their creations on Thingiverse, they normally share under a creative commons license. This license allows the recipient to use the model any way they see fit, as long as it is used for non-commercial purposes. In lamen’s terms, no one can’t make any money off that model.

3dhubsJust3DPrint sells their 3D Printing service on 3DHubs, just like thousands of other 3d printing service companies. Although it is unverified, but it is presumed that many customers who go to 3DHubs to get 3D Printing service fulfilled, get their models from Thingiverse. Technically, every one who sells and buys printing service on 3DHubs are violating the creative commons license. The license specifically states the models can not be used for any type of commercial activity. You can print the model yourself, but can’t forward the model to a printing service company; as that is considered a commercial activity. The printing service company can not knowingly accept this order, if it is known that the model is protected by creative commons. Sellers and Buyers can be held responsible for copyright infringement, even if the seller is an unwilling participant.

Sure, the printing service company is offering a service, but there is precedent where unwilling participants of infringements, fraud, and larceny are held responsible in civil and criminal cases. For example, Napster was held responsible for copyright infringement because the music was being torrented through their servers. Napster’s argument was that they were just facilitating the content, but the content itself was being shared between their users. The courts did not see it this way and Napster paid the price and were shut down as they were participants of the infringement, in their case they were a willing participant. As a result, future torrent sites and p2p sharing programs use fragmentation techniques to avoid Napster’s mistakes.j3p

Another example is the prosecution of a DVD Duplication Store in NYC in the mid-2000s for duplication thousands of DVDs for a customer of theirs. The owner failed to verify if the DVD that is being burned was copyrighted material. The owner was criminally and civilly prosecuted, even though he was an unwilling participant of the infringement.

In the case of 3DHubs, they are a facilitator, just like Napster 15 years ago. Unlike Napster, 3DHubs and its sellers can be held legally and financially responsible for the creative common license violation, if Thingiverse and their 3D modelers decided to sue 3D Hubs. Reason why? There is a digital trail detailing every 3DPrint job fulfilled on 3DHubs.

Just3DPrint’s Big Mistake

Back to Just3DPrint, they failed to state that they are offering a 3D printing service. They also fail to give credit to the 3D Modeler and Thingiverse. It is common, when someone purchases Royalty Free content such as photos, music, videos, and art the content creator must be credited in any publication where the content is used. Just3DPrint failed to do even that.

Screenshot from 2016-03-09 23:45:17Just3dPrint is a startup in the Allenton, PA area founded by four college students from Wharton Business School. Speculating, they start this printing service company with the intention to make extra money to pay for college and possibly to build something long term. Presumably, these four young founders are in the late teens, early 20s, just like Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning. The young arrogance and pride always lead to problems.Screenshot from 2016-03-09 23:45:29

A 23 year old Steve Jobs got up at a business conference in Silicon Valley and said, “Anyone over 45 can’t understand computers.” Sean Parker is responsible for turning Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook into a real business. Steve Jobs is worshipped by many technology enthusiasts as a god. Both icons in their own right, made a lot of mistakes; eventually faced up to those mistakes and made them into a better person.

They violated creative common license, but why are they being persecuted? 3DHubs sellers do it all the time and no one is making a fuss about that. They didn’t set off to make millions off infringing on 3D Modelers. They were making money to make a living, just like many other 3D Hub sellers do. Only difference, Just3DPrint directly violated Creative Commons and someone will try and make an example of them.Screenshot from 2016-03-10 00:00:41

For makers who are in their 30s+, these four young founders are considered kids. Kids who make mistakes and have an opportunity to atone for their actions by making a public apology and vow not to repeat these mistakes again. Why ruin the future of four young college students out of a overreaching mistake. Their actions are not in the league of Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, they didn’t put an entire industry down on their knees. Yet, many people idolize them and they were pirates. They pissed off the music industry, as many people see as a very rich corporation and musicians who were attacking a company offering a free service. Many people didn’t see anything wrong with downloading music for free. How many 3D modelers who are crying infringement actually infringe other copyrighted materials such as music and movie downloads from the priatebay or kickazz torrents?Screenshot from 2016-03-09 23:45:53

Infringement is infringement, however it is sliced. Whether it’s music, movies, or 3D models. No one lives in a straight and narrow. There is historical precedent, where crusaders of “justice” and “what is right” typically end up being hypocrites. Unfortunately, these crusaders will chastise Just3DPrint as long as anyone is listening. It is a distraction of the truth that everyone is doing it. Making money off 3D Models that they get from Thingiverse.

Legal Ramifications

Thingiverse stated that they will look at legal actions against Just3DPrint. That is nice, but what about 3DHubs. As stated above, 3DHubs and their sellers are guilty of the same violations. Just3DPrint’s mistake was more direct than 3DHubs. There is a solution that could save money in millions of dollars in litigation and secure 3D Modeler’s rights and prevent commercialization of creative commons 3d Models.

Since, 3D Hubs are the largest infringer on creative commons models. Thingiverse, 3DHubs, any modeling source site and 3D Printing service site can have a 3D Model verification api plugin. This verification plugin will verify any 3D Model uploaded to 3DHubs or any site like 3DHubs to make sure, the 3D Models are not violating creative commons. Programming something like this can take months to be live. In 3D Hub’s credit, their terms and conditions does state the following “6. CONTENT 6.1. Users are solely responsible and liable for the Content they upload and will refrain from uploading restricted Content to the Website. If a Hub receives restricted Content from a User they shall refuse the Order and not supply a 3D Print of such Content and immediately inform 3D Hubs about such Content. 6.2. Content is restricted if it: (a) violates or infringes a third party’s rights, including but not limited to privacy, publicity or any intellectual property rights (including any copyright, patent, design right, trademark, trade secret or any other proprietary rights); ” Unfortunately, this only protects 3DHubs at some level as an infringement participant. This does not absolve 3DHubs from any legal responsibility. They are acting as agents for 3D printing service companies who sell on 3DHubs, therefore the responsibility of any infringement lies on 3DHubs and the sellers of 3DHubs for failing to deny service on orders that are violating infringement laws and creative common licenses.

In Conclusion

Just3DPrint’s mistake is a wake up call to all 3D Modelers. There are ramifications into sharing your content for the entire world. Sharing knowledge and creative expression encourage innovation, promotes progress as a society, and moves the human race a step closer to a better world. Unfortunately, there are those who wish to exploit the innocence of free knowledge and creative expression for selfish reasons. There eare many ways to protect ourselves from this type of exploitation, but nothing is a full guarantee.

As for Just3DPrint, a bright future can turn suddenly dark due to pride and arrogance. A quote from an excellent movie by Robert DeNiro, “Nothing is sadder than wasted talent” So don’t throw great talent away because of pride and arrogance. People are willing to give second chances to those who are deserving, but one must first put pride and arrogance aside and show atonement.

Side Note: All3dp.com who broke the article also offers a service similar to 3dhubs.com. They give a list of recommendation where to find 3D designs, but does not emphasize the need to get permission from the original designer. They are profiting from the same hypocrisy.


UPDATE: they won a case against Makerbot/Stratasys regarding defamation and are now trying to sue all the media sites that reported this news.  Since its a matter of public record, here is the court document. They won the case due to creative common agreement is flawed. But Freedom of Speech isn’t. If you want the full court document, which I have. just follow us on twitter: @3dprintnerd