Intellectual Property and Regulation
Edited by Dinusha Mendis, Mark Lemley and Matthew Rimmer
Chapter 7: 3D printing and US copyright law: implications for software, enforcement and business strategies
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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