3dp_starwars_makerbot_logoIn case you missed it, at the end of last week Thingiverse designer Loubie discovered that a store on eBay was selling 3D printed copies of one of her 3D models despite that model carrying a Creative Common Attribution Non-Commercial license. Essentially, an NC license dictates that anyone is free to 3D print and use her model however they want with the exception of actually selling it. By 3D printing and selling copies of her 3D model Aria the Dragon, the store was clearly in violation of the terms of Loubie’s license. And it wasn’t just Loubie who was having her rights violated. It turns out that the eBay store, calling themselves just3dprint, had seemingly bulk downloaded thousands of Thingiverse 3D models and the designers’ photos and was reselling them despite many of the models carrying similarly restrictive licenses.

Sad face by Thingiverse user Loubie.

Sad face by Thingiverse user Loubie.

When Loubie contacted just3dprint and asked to have her work removed from their store, she received a rather ridiculous response that pretty much just blew her off. Getting nowhere with the seller, Loubie decided to create a Sad Face model and upload it to Thingiverse to draw attention to just3dprint’s shady behavior. And draw attention to the issue she did: the Sad Face Thing has so far resulted in more than six hundred comments, which may be a Thingiverse record, and drew dozens of fellow community users who discovered that their own work was being misused.

Unfortunately for just3dprint, rather than simply rectify the situation by removing the models that were in violation of their licenses, someone from the company decided to wade into the comments and defend their actions. If you haven’t read their epic, 3,500+ word response (I’ve attached screen caps to the end of this post) make sure that you check it out, it is a thing of beauty, in both its needless length and its inability to get virtually any of the legal facts correct. The just3dprint representative also, humorously, made the claim that the Thingiverse Terms of Use were “worthless” and suggested that they were written by a first-year law student. Well, MakerBot, which owns Thingiverse, has finally weighed in on the issue and seems to be taking the violation of their ToU very seriously.

“Several members of the Thingiverse community have recently raised concerns about an eBay member who is selling 3D prints of design files from Thingiverse. In many cases, the restrictions or obligations placed on those files by Thingiverse users are being completely disregarded. While we are still investigating the exact circumstances, we want to emphasize that MakerBot views violations of our community members’ rights with the utmost seriousness. We firmly oppose this kind of use of our community’s talented creations. To put it simply, we see such violations as a direct attack on the very goal of Thingiverse and the Creative Commons (CC) framework. Because there has been some misinformation being disseminated as part of the discussion, we wanted to take this opportunity to clarify how Thingiverse works and the rights, that you as Thingiverse users, have when using our platform,” said the MakerBot legal team on their blog post responding to the issue.

3dp_thingiverseiptheft_aria

The original listing of Loubie’s Aria the Dragon 3D model has now been removed.

MakerBot reiterated what several in the 3D printing industry had been saying all week, including 3D printing copyright and legal expert Michael Weinberg, that just3dprint was in very clear violation of the 3D designers’ rights. Many of the 3D models being sold carried the same Creative Common Attribution Non-Commercial license as Loubie’s design. Many more carried a more forgiving license that would allow third parties to sell 3D prints of the design provided they attributed the design to the creator, which just3dprint did not bother to do. According to MakerBot, what just3dprint did is unequivocally a violation of the principles of what Thingiverse as a 3D model sharing platform stands for, not to mention the spirit of the CC licenses.

“MakerBot is committed to protecting the rights of its community members. In the case of the eBay seller mentioned above, our legal team is preparing communication to the appropriate parties. Since MakerBot does not own the content that our users upload to Thingiverse, we also encourage community members who recognize third party conduct that violates their CC licenses to contact the platforms that are harboring such behavior. We are happy to answer any questions that we can at this time and provide assistance. Community members can get in touch with our Thingiverse community manager here,” MakerBot continued.

Thingiverse-Blog-Post1-700x325At this point, Loubie and several other 3D designers have had their models removed from the just3dprint store, however there are still hundreds of other models still in violation of their licenses that remain for sale. Some very helpful Thingiverse users are digging through the more than 2,000 3D models featured on the just3dprint eBay store and posting the models that are in violation of their CC licenses in the Sad Face comments. If you see any of your creations being sold in violation of your CC license then you can contact eBay here to ask them to remove them from the just3dprint storefront.

Sadly, MakerBot did not respond to just3dprint’s suggestion that their Terms of Use were written by a first-year law student, but they did make it very clear that they were actively taking steps to resolve the issue. Not only was just3dprint in violation of the licenses of many of the Thingiverse designers, but they were also in direct violation of several parts of the Thingiverse Terms of Use. You can read MakerBot’s full statement regarding the issue here, and make sure that you pop by and read Michael Weinberg’s full blog post about the legalities of the case here and a point-by-point rundown here, it’s a great read.

See the entire just3dprint comment in its entirety below. What are your thoughts on this issue? Discuss in the Thingiverse 3D Printing User Rights forum over at 3DPB.com.

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