Katy Perry’s Lawyers Demand 3D Printed ‘Left Shark’ be Taken Down

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leftsharkaniIt was just Tuesday that we reported on what we thought was an incredibly entertaining 3D printed figurine. For those of you who watched the halftime show of the Super Bowl, you are certainly familiar with the dancing Sharks who acted as backup dancers during Katy Perry’s performance. One such shark has earned internet fame, meme status, and the interesting name of ‘Left Shark’.

His name stems from the fact that he was dancing on our left side in relation to Perry as we watched her performance. His fame comes because of his ridiculously off key dance moves that made many people wonder if the person under the costume was either drunk or on drugs. Turns out that producers of the show say that it was all part of the act.

Anyhow, on Tuesday, Fernando Sosa (AKA PoliticalSculptor) contacted 3DPrint.com to let us know that his 3D printed Left Shark had just gone live on 3D printing marketplace Shapeways. Available to purchase for just $24.95, this figurine looks almost exactly like the sharks who performed in Katy Perry’s Super Bowl show. They were apparently hot products as well, as Sosa told us that he sold one of them just seven minutes after he posted it up on Shapeways.
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Yesterday though, Sosa was sent a Cease and Desist notice from an attorney representing Katy Perry. It stated that Perry is the owner of the intellectual property depicted in the shark images and costumes used in her Super Bowl halftime performance. It demanded that Sosa immediately take down the 3D printed “Left Shark” product from his Shapeways shop.

Shapeways cooperated with the attorneys, by immediately removing Left Shark from their storefront, and they responded by releasing the following statement to Gigaom:

“It’s a shame because we love our community and always want to be able to support their designs. That’s part of the reason why our work with Hasbro is so fun! It’s allowing fans to create products truly inspired by the things they personally enjoy. We know these things can happen when you have a lot of user-generated content, but hopefully more brands (and celebrities!) will take note and want to work together with fans to create amazing products!”

Sosa, however, wasn’t pleased at all by the demands made by Perry’s legal team, and even joked about the fiasco, by saying:

“I feel like I’m living a the Onion Story… Is this real?”

The Cease and Desist sent to Sosa

The Cease and Desist sent to Sosa

He then proceeded to upload his design for Left Shark to Thingiverse, so that anyone could download the STL file and 3D print the character from their home 3D printers.  As of the time this article was written the design still remains up on Thingiverse.

“Since some lawyers send a Cease and Desist to Shapeways.com where I was selling this little bad boy shark and I can [no] longer sell this,” Sosa explains as the reason why he decided to list his design on Thingiverse. “Apparently sharks, palm trees and beach balls are all now copyrighted.. anyways I’m making this available to everyone. Now you can 3D Print your very own Left Shark.”

Intellectutual property issues have been discussed quite a bit in the past several months when it comes to the future of 3D printing technology. With people being able to virtually replicate objects by combining 3D scanning, modeling, and 3D printing, there will certainly be a lot of IP issues to be dealt with in the future.

In the case of Sosa’s Left Shark, it is hard to say whether or not Katy Perry’s legal team is correct in their demands. At least one lawyer, Christopher Sprigman, doesn’t believe that Left Shark is copyrightable due to the fact that it qualifies as a “useful article.” Fact is though, no one could say for sure until a case like this goes in front of a judge or jury.

It should be interesting to see if Perry’s legal team sends a ‘take down’ notice to Thingiverse. While the designs on Thingiverse are all free to download, this also doesn’t put Sosa in the clear. What do you think about Katy Perry’s legal team trying to demand that this artist not sell 3D printed Left Shark figurines? Should Left Shark be considered a copyrighted object?

We know how Sosa feels about it.

“Sad day to live in.. corporations crushing entrepreneur’s little figurines one at the time,” he writes.

How do you feel? Discuss in the 3D printed Left Shark forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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