3D Printing and Beyond
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3D Printing and Beyond

Intellectual Property and Regulation

Edited by Dinusha Mendis, Mark Lemley and Matthew Rimmer

This ground-breaking and timely contribution is the first and most comprehensive edited collection to address the implications for Intellectual Property (IP) law in the context of 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing. Providing a coverage of IP law in three main jurisdictions including the UK, USA and Australia. 3D Printing and Beyond brings together a team of distinguished IP experts and is an indispensable starting point for researchers with an interest in IP, emerging technologies and 3D printing.
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Chapter 7: 3D printing and US copyright law: implications for software, enforcement and business strategies

Peter S. Menell and Ryan Vacca


This chapter explores how 3D printing fits within US copyright law. US copyright law provides a well-developed framework for protecting creative designs, whether fixed in CAD files or 3D objects. Although 3D printing poses similar challenges encountered by content industries whose works were disrupted by the digital revolution, 3D printing brings distinctive issues. Although grounded in statute, US copyright law has a rich common law tradition affording courts significant leeway in adapting doctrines to new and unforeseen technological developments. This capacity is reinforced by the range of business strategies available for confronting appropriability challenges. This chapter surveys the 3D printing terrain on three levels: copyrightability of CAD files and 3D objects; enforcement challenges; and business strategies. The ultimate governance regime will depend upon business strategies that copyright owners and disruptive businesses pursue, the extent to which courts adapt doctrines to new and unforeseen challenges, and the Copyright Office’s DMCA exemptions.

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