By now I’m sure most of you have heard about the kerfuffle over on Thingiverse when popular 3D artist Loubie discovered that a shady eBay store was offering one of her 3D designs for sale despite her Creative Commons: Non-Commercial license. Not only was her Aria the Dragon model being sold, so were hundreds of other 3D designers’ creations, many of them similarly not having their licenses acknowledged or abided by. As protest, Loubie created a Sad Face model, which attracted a lot of attention and a rather creative response from the shady seller in question. While Thingiverse has announced their intention to pursue legal action, currently the case is still up in the air. But it has started an industry-wide discussion about 3D designers’ rights and the lack of protections for copyright holders.
As one of the largest 3D model marketplaces online, MyMiniFactory has a vested interest in protecting their community’s designs. Not only because their entire business model rests on having high-quality, curated 3D content, but they have also recently started their own service that offers many of their best designs for sale to customers without a 3D printer. In order to make sure that their community felt secure with using their platform, and to clarify exactly what the goal of the marketplace is, MyMiniFactory CEO Romain Kidd took to their blog to address the issue.
“MyMiniFactory believes in empowering creators and helping them connect to their audience. 3D printing allows the most talented 3D designers to share their creativity on a massive scale, with little friction and no gatekeepers. Combined with freedom and respect of ownership, we believe that openness and sharing will allow many artists to emerge and these designers to earn better than ever before. We are driven by this vision as well as our community, and as such the MyMiniFactory team works hard to continuously introduce new tools and features to empower designers. As a couple of examples, we introduced tips over a year ago and designers can also sell their objects through the store,” wrote Kidd on his blog post.
Kidd also announced that MyMiniFactory was going to be offering a new feature to help prevent non-compliance with the more frequently used “attribution” creative commons license. A Creative Commons: Attribution license generally only demands that anyone reproducing, selling or sharing their 3D model includes the designer of the model and a link to the page where they shared it.
“We also believe that 3D printable content is better consumed when actually…printable. Too many dodgy designs are ruining 3D printer owners’ experience (and ultimately limiting the growth of 3D printing and 3D designers’ potential audience). The unique curation process that we have put in place allows us to validate the quality of designs. This curation process is an opportunity for us to today introduce a new feature which we think will help designers: Labelling.” Kidd continued.
As of now MyMiniFactory designers will have the option of adding a label, or a stamp in a discreet place on their model when they upload it. The label will include their MMF username and a shortened link to their model, which will maintain their attribution regardless of who is reselling or sharing their work. Designers simply need to check the new box on the upload form and while their system is verifying the model’s printability they will also add in the small attribution label.
While MyMiniFactory’s “Labelling-as-a-Service” option is hardly a total solution to the problem, it will allow creators some sort of credit when their models are shared by other users. Unless the person re-sharing the model opens the file up and manually removes the label of course. But realistically, that is a lot of work for something that isn’t really going to benefit anyone sharing the model. However it does mean that if someone is given or finds the 3D file and prints it, then they will know who created it and could try to give them credit. You can check out Kidd’s entire blog post over on the MyMiniFactory blog, and if you’re a MMF designer, then the new labelling option is available to you as of yesterday. Discuss in the MyMiniFactory 3D Labelling Service forum over at 3DPB.com.