Small Business News

Startup Invents DRM For 3D Printing

DRM isn’t consumer friendly in the least, but it manages to weasel its way into pretty much every consumer application and good available. Now it has its sights set on 3D printing.

Authentise, a start up focused on 3D printing, has announced a new DRM scheme calledSendshapes. It’s tagline is “Let them 3D print it. Once.” In other words, the software sends a 3D printer a design without sharing the actual blueprint with the consumer. It will allow designers to sell 3D printed objects without fearing others will steal their work.

Besides its DRM applications, Sendshapes will also form a connection between the seller and the buyer of the design in question. It will ensure that the buyer gets the right design and it will alert the buyer that their design was successfully delivered and printed.

I normally object to most forms of DRM, but Authentise seems to have the best of intentions in mind. In fact, it’s Web site says that it aims to help its “clients avoid a repeat of the destructive intellectual property wars that dominated the transition to digital music and film.” It’s a noble goal, but one I’m not sure is possible once the manufacturing industry gets wind of consumersscanning their products and making replacements themselves.

3D printers are still very much a hobbyist and industrial design technology, but that’s going to change very quickly. Once the technology becomes mainstream, we’ll start to see some brand new copyright challenges that the courts will not be prepared for. DRM may be looked upon as a solution, but more importantly, the industry will have to educate the courts on when a 3D printed object is fair use and when it’s infringement.

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