Stratasys Urges Copyright Office to Deny Proposal for 3D Printer ‘JailBreaking’

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Stratasys is asking the US Copyright Office to deny a proposal that would make it legal to “jailbreak” 3D printers to allow the use of third party materials, and the issue has implications beyond a single manufacturer or device.

One bit of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in particular, Section 1201, makes it a felony to tamper with “an effective means of access control” for a given device. In the case of 3D printers, the access control in question relates to processes which check to see that the consumables used in a 3D printer have been made or approved by the manufacturer. Think recent efforts to control which cups can be used in coffee makers or efforts to prevent owners from “jailbreaking” their iPhones.

Every three years, the Copyright Office reviews proposals from various parties to make exceptions to the rule, and this year, a petitioner is asking for the right to use unapproved materials in a printer. An objection to the mojo_print_head_loadingrequest was filed by Stratasys, and their justification wanting to prevent that sort of access is basically that there’s no earthly reason why it makes sense to use unlicensed, third party materials in Stratasys printers.

The issue centers not on honoring warranties or seeking support if a user jailbreaks the machines, but rather on whether or not the owner of a particular machine has the right to use the property according to their choice.

And as a result of the Stratasys filing, a coalition which fights for the right of device users and owners to access and repair digital objects–such as 3D printers–has come on board in an effort to influence the Copyright Office review as it relates to material use in a 3D printer.

The Digital Right to Repair Coalition, founded in 2013 by groups from consumers to environmental organizations to digital advocacy groups, says its goal is to preserve the right to buy and sell products without regard to their “ability to tinker with, repair, and reuse those products.”

The group says they favor relaxing or eliminating restrictions on the ability of a product owner to manipulate their devices as they choose, hire anyone to make those sorts of changes and prevent contracts and mandatory licensing procedures which might “interfere with your right to resell your product.”

According to the goals of the Digital Right to Repair Coalition, consumers should have access to their devices for a number of reasons.

“A free, independent market for repair and reuse is more efficient, more competitive, and better for consumers,” they note. “Repair helps create local jobs, and repair and reuse benefits the environment by reducing waste. The freedom to maintain, innovate, and improve upon our products is imperative. These basic freedoms are essential to American economic growth and creativity, and must be preserved for the 21st century.”

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The coalition adds that they believe consumers should have the right to documentation, software, and legal authority to repair their own products, as well as fair access to service parts and tools, including diagnostics and the ability to unlock their devices for repair and reuse the software and firmware required to operate those products.

You can read an excellent article about the DCMA as it relates to 3D printing here on Make: magazine.

If you’re interested in the full details of the issue, you can check them out here, or you can review the Digital Right to Repair Coalition site here and make any comments you might have on the issue here.

You can also check out the Stratasys filing on the copyright issue here.

Do you think 3D printer manufacturers should have the right to use the DCMA to limit the materials their machines can use? Let us know your thoughts in the 3D Printer Jailbreaking forum thread on 3DPB.com

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