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3D Printing: Should Libraries Care?

3D Printer at Stanford Law School Event

Yesterday's panel discussion at Stanford Law School on 3D printing aroused more questions than it answered, especially given the diverse perspectives, assumptions, interests and even misunderstanding among the general public and within professional circles regarding what it is, it's wider implications and who, when and where (if found necessary) should regulate it. Legal issues stemming from product liability in cases of injury, copyright and patent infringement, as well as freedom and protections accorded to manufacturers, sellers and user were discussed. Similarities were drawn between the advent of the internet and the current 3D printing movement

- some of the arguments for and against 3D printing are exact word-for-word transcripts of the internet battles. The DVD, Sony Corporation, Media companies and consumer advocates featured in the panel discussion.

One issue of interest to libraries might be the copyright protection and fair use of content. Given the ease with which artifacts - both digital and physical, can now be copied, scanned or replicated; and the nature of 3D production, what new measures might we initiate in order to safeguard copyright, users and the institution from potential conflict and even litigation? The answer will partly depend on how 3D printing is defined by law - including whether it will be regarded as manufacturing or not. Look out for detailed coverage of this event on other Stanford news channels.