thingiverse-logo-2015A few weeks ago, Thingiverse reached out to developers with their new Thingiverse Developer Portal. Along with a series of new apps, the portal provides even more opportunities for interaction with a site that’s already mostly user-built. Now, instead of just creating 3D printable content, anyone can design apps, tools and features to enhance the site itself and provide more capabilities for its thousands of users.

When any new feature is introduced, there’s fine print that goes along with it. More freedom and access for outside developers is an exciting thing, and one that is likely to have a lot of positive impact on the site and user experience. There are, of course, potential issues that go along with it, though, so Thingiverse owner MakerBot has updated its Terms of Use to extend additional protection to both its users and itself.

Thingiverse’s open nature means that there are risks to the intellectual property of its users; while Creative Commons licenses offer some measure of protection for users and their designs, there are still plenty of ways for the unscrupulous to take advantage of files that have been made free and available to the public. New apps created by members of the community have the potential to open up files to additional IP risks, but MakerBot has set up some new measures to safeguard against those risks. Let’s take a look at a few of the changes:

"TERMS AND CONDITIONS" Tag Cloud (contract legal use button)

First of all, MakerBot has to protect itself should some new community-developed app cause havoc, hence the statement: “The applications available through the Thingiverse Developer Program are solely the responsibility of the developers of those applications. Makerbot is not responsible for the applications and they are not under our control.” Developers, any shady business is on you, though that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

MakerBot-LogoThingiverse users, if you’re concerned about your files being put at risk, you can rest a bit easier knowing that you can still have full control over who can use them, and how. If your files have licenses that don’t permit commercial or derivative uses, that’s not going to change, and new apps will not automatically be able to use your files. If you would like to allow apps access to your designs, however, you can override the default setting for individual Things without changing your license. If your licenses do permit commercial or derivative uses, new apps will automatically have access to your files, although you can change your settings or disable apps at any time.

There is one stipulation you should take note of:

“Please note that the measures to protect Thing files have only been implemented for Thing Apps operating on Thingiverse. For other applications, developers are solely responsible for ensuring that their applications comply with your license choices. Makerbot will investigate any potential violation of your licenses through this program.”

Like any site that operates on open source material, it’s still largely an honor system, but the new apps and developer portal shouldn’t necessarily make that system easier to violate, and MakerBot will continue to take any offenses seriously.

The Privacy Policy was updated as well, and the key changes are summarized as such:

  • As a reminder, Makerbot’s Privacy Policy applies to all Makerbot owned applications.

  • Makerbot may collect personal data such as your name and address and non-personal data such as device information and IP address, which could be used to derive location, in order to provide better experiences and services to our users. Non-personal data may be associated to your Makerbot account to become personal data if your Makerbot account is used.

  • Makerbot may collect usage statistics associated with your use of our 3D Printing Ecosystem. This information may include types of actions, your IP address, and your Makerbot Account. The policies regarding this data use have been included in the end user license agreements associated with the particular applications.

  • Makerbot may aggregate these various pieces of information in order to inform business decisions and provider better services to Makerbot users.

You can read the entire Terms of Use in detail here and check out updates to the Privacy Policy here. Discuss further in the Thingiverse Terms of User forum over at 3DPB.com.

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