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It’s amazing what an eruption Brexit had in the headlines, only to be superseded by worse things in the news shortly after, causing a worldwide ruckus to fade back into the relatively quiet confines of Europe. That doesn’t mean that the UK isn’t still beholden to listen to the European Union now, as their supposed two-year window of exit looms; and what an interesting law they have chosen to pass.

Now, following the EU, they have modified a copyright-and-patent monopoly law so that it extends its reach to the realm of furniture as well, including this traditional design industry within the law. And not only that—this is meant to hold for a century! A major impact to be considered here is that it directly affects makers in the UK, who will not be able to employ 3D printing in the manufacturing of some items. And right-o, not for a hundred years, at least.

This moves furniture out of the design patent arena and into the jurisdiction of copyright law, allowing for the lifetime of this decree on a particular design to last 25 years retroactively from the inception of its marketing to 70 years after the death of the creator. This is a pretty extreme way to kick out knock-off designers, but more so—it truly shuts out the creative maker community, not exactly known for creating sweatshops and employing the downtrodden to mass produce shoddy imitations.

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Original furniture by Sylvain Charpiot and Samuel Javelle, made with the Galatéa 3D printer for the ‘Drawn’ collection.

Indeed it will be interesting to see how this law holds, as so many designers may be discouraged from entering the field to begin with. And for what reason the EU would deign to target the making community is somewhat of a conundrum. From what angle do they see a massive threat? Perhaps this is a preventative measure directed at the concept of the fourth revolution which can sound a bit daunting, wreaking havoc on manufacturing and life as we generally know it. If that was the mindset (“these people are going to take over in the future if we don’t do something!”), then the extreme timeframe makes sense, as well as pointing to more than just a bit of hysteria.

The differences between design patents and copyrights make this an obviously pointed effort as a design patent on furniture should be more than sufficient, still allowing, under European laws, for someone to re-create copies with their own resources. They cannot however do anything of the sort if a furniture design is under a copyright. That designates a complete shutting out for makers—and a deliberate shutting down of the disruption 3D printing is so famous for. And feasibly, this means if you live in the UK and go home to your workshop re-creating something cool you saw that’s now under copyright, you could get hauled off in handcuffs. Keep in mind, of course, that in the US, a design under patent is already strictly controlled and you could certainly be sued in a New York minute for defying such a law.

“In most European countries, the exclusive exploitation rights granted by a patent are restricted to commercial exploitation. A private person who builds the patented invention in his own home for his own personal goals cannot infringe on a patent. […] United States law is more strict. It forbids anyone from making, using or selling the invention, even when the use is strictly personal.”

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An example of 3D printed ‘Foldabilizing Furniture’ created by Chinese researchers at Simon Fraser University in Canada.

The quote above explains why this is so drastic in the UK. But of course, the level of protection being provided here goes above and beyond, when considering that most furniture is sizeable. Making and selling knock-offs is not something that can translate into a quick business pandered on the side of the street and moved easily from venue to venue. If less expensive quasi replicas are being sold, it’s to a very willing market at a lower income level for the most part. It’s a fairly honest exchange for copies being peddled, no matter the location.

This certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a government has begun taking preliminary measures against an impending revolution, attempting to squash it before it started. Of course, here, a transformation is already underway—and one would wonder if there is any way it can stand for so many decades to come. Discuss further in the UK Modifies Copyright Laws; Cuts Out 3D Printing Enthusiasts forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Private Internet Access]
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