‘Mind the gap’: Re-evaluating copyright law in a 3D printing world – From Engravings to 3D Designs and 3D Scans (Forthcoming, 2018)

Authors: Mendis, D.

Editors: Mendis, D., Lemley, M. and Rimmer, M.

Publisher: Edward Elgar Publishers

Place of Publication: Cheltenham, UK

This chapter begins with an analysis of the protection of 3D models as artistic works. In doing so, the chapter draws a line through history, taking the reader on a journey from the Engravings Copyright Act 1735 to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Thereafter the chapter moves to a consideration of another component of the 3D printing process – the CAD design file, which acts as a ‘vessel’ to encapsulate a 3D model. In assessing the copyright status of CAD design files, the chapter questions whether it is possible to perceive a design document containing instructions as a copyright work? In response and in also addressing the issues of separability in copyright, the chapter makes reference to case law, in an attempt to draw out an answer. Having done so, the final part of the chapter considers the implications for copyright law as a result of 3D scanning. Arguing that the future potential of 3D scanning will only grow, the chapter ends with suggestions for the future, particularly from the perspective of enforcement.

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