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DRM Printer Hardware

DRM Could Come To 3D Printers 315

another random user sends this excerpt from TorrentFreak: "Downloading a car – or a pair of sneakers – will be entirely possible, although Ford and Nike won't be particularly happy if people use their designs to do so. A new patent, issued this week by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and titled 'Manufacturing control system', describes a system whereby 3D printer-like machines (the patent actually covers additive, subtractive, extrusion, melting, solidification, and other types of manufacturing) will have to obtain authorization before they are allowed to print items requested by the user. In a nutshell, a digital fingerprint of 'restricted items' will be held externally and printers will be required to compare the plans of the item they're being asked to print against those in a database. If there's a match, printing will be disallowed or restricted."
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DRM Could Come To 3D Printers

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  • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:34AM (#41631869) Homepage Journal

    because it's bloody obvious.

    • by Moblaster ( 521614 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:38AM (#41631945)

      That's true. On the other hand, it's virtually impossible to enforce on any practical technical level. Like the quality of a first post.

      • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:57AM (#41632207) Homepage

        You can always rotate it and add a few snap-off tabs to fool the DRM.

        You could even make two objects at once, joined by a bit of removable plastic. Let's see how the algorithm copes...

        • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @12:47PM (#41632825) Homepage Journal

          they'll likely add algorithms to compare similarity. Too high of a percentage will trigger a hit. or they will have a specific part of the design require an exact match. More likely though, they will use a combination of these two approaches - a nearly exact match (99.5%) on any of a number of small structures, OR a 95% overall match, trips it.

          It will probably require the design files to be encrypted, and you have to request the key online. The DRM will be the firmware on the fab machine that handles the decrypted data in a protected way, similar to how bluray players and hdmi cables handle the decrypted video. This is not too difficult to implement, and would be somewhat effective, until someone "cracks" your design file and publishes it somewhere. So you could download the design file for free, then use an interface on your fab machine to pay for x copies to be made - it connects to the server specified in the design file, authenticates as a secure fab machine, sends your payment, and downloads a license file with the key and a use counter and stores it. That actually makes a lot of sense.

          (Scenario: the fab file would be similar to bluray, the data is encrypted with a random key like the bluray title key, call it the ItemKey. when the fab machine has authenticated (over SSL) as a secure fabber to the manufacturer, they will send the ItemKey to it. The fab machine then encrypts the ItemKey along with the counter, using its own FabKey and appends it to the fab file. Then it can create a copy of the item when requested. It has access to the ItemKey and can decrement the CopyCounter each time a copy is fabbed. If you pull the hdd/etc out you can't tamper with or access the key or the counter because you don't have the FabKey, which is hidden in the fab machine's firmware. later if you decided you didn't need all 10 copies of the item, you could use the fabber's interface to "return" the 3 copies you didn't use, at 85% of original purchase price)

          So this won't prevent a "warez" market for decrypted design files, and think that was their ultimate goal. Just a matter of hacking the fabber just like they hack the bluray players now. So they're left to flat out asking permission for ANYTHING, encrypted or not. But that's been found impossible on the computer. Imagine having to get online and connect to some central computer to get permission to run that new update to Firefox, or to run the application you just finished compiling. I don't think it would be any more tolerated with a fab machine. So they'll have to be content with just protecting encrypted content. Really, they'd be complete morons to try to trust unencrypted data once it's in someone else's physical control. Client-side-security always loses in the end. The bigger you bet on it, the more spectacular the fail that results.

          • they'll likely add algorithms to compare similarity.

            Yeah, and then nobody will be able to print anything ... Nike will claim that all shoes are too similar. Basically every industry will say that you can't make products which compete with them.

            It *will* be buggy-whip makers all over again as everybody tries to entrench that their product is protected.

            • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )

              Nike will claim that all shoes are too similar.

              What are the chances of being able to "print" a usable pair of shoes anyway? It's not just the shape, it's the material. Most sports shoes seem to have soles made of at least three distinct layers with different properties glued together. If it was possible, Nike would already be "extruding" the whole thing.

              Maybe okay for something like Crocs though. But you can buy knockoffs of those for $2 anyway.

          • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @01:55PM (#41633629)

            Really, they'd be complete morons to try to trust unencrypted data once it's in someone else's physical control.

            That would seem consistent with what I've observed with most copyright holders.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @02:02PM (#41633687)

            Imagine having to get online and connect to some central computer to get permission to run that new update to Firefox.

            No sane person would ever put up with this.

            Sent from my iPhone.

        • by dyingtolive ( 1393037 ) <brad.arnett@[ ]f ... g ['not' in gap]> on Friday October 12, 2012 @01:33PM (#41633383)
          If other DRM schemes are any indication, you'd probably wind up setting off false positives for things you've genuinely created yourself. Gotta err on the side of caution after all.
          • Good point. Almost certainly true.

            BTW, in the minds of the IP pigopolists, false positives aren't false. If you ask them (and if this technology becomes mandatory, you will... every time you use your 3D printer), you're not supposed to be doing anything yourself except giving them money and taking whatever dreck they choose to hand you. And liking it. Somehow, they're not satisfied until you're forced to feign a little smile of contentment at their beneficience.

            I, for one, reject our new IP overlords.

            • ...if this technology becomes mandatory...

              Where did this come from? Isn't the cat already out of the bag on this one? People are building their own open source 3d printers and I don't see how a law could really be implemented in any meaningful way to change this. Assuming I am not totally wrong in the first part of this, doesn't that also mean that whatever company owns this patent will simply be producing broken printers that no one wants to buy, and that their competition without this method will clean them up?

    • by roystgnr ( 4015 ) <roystgnr&ticam,utexas,edu> on Friday October 12, 2012 @12:08PM (#41632365) Homepage

      Perhaps the people who have approved decades of "existing idea X, but on a computer" and "existing idea-on-a-computer X, but over the network" claims will decide that "existing idea-on-networked-computers X, but using a 3D printer" claims are where the obviousness line is finally being crossed?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @12:24PM (#41632585)

      Actually, if it's patented to have DRM on a 3D printer... wouldn't that mean printers wouldn't be able to DRM anything UNLESS they actually paid for rights to use the patent to prevent users from using their product?

      "Your honor, my device does not legally have the right to use the DRM restriction, as it is a patented technology and we do not currently have any licenses to it."

  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:35AM (#41631877)
    So, no one else can patent it, thus disabling "DRM" authorization?

    I won't hold my breath.
    • RAND standard (Score:5, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:41AM (#41631993)
      More likely, this company wants to make money on some future standard that will kill 3D printing. You know, a standard that will be required by law for all 3D printers, which will be so loaded with junk like this that only large industrial operations will be able to use 3D printers. Us little people can buy or rent the products of 3D printers, but to own or operate one in your home will be out of the question.

      After all, when we allowed people to have computers in their homes instead of x.25 terminals, look at the disaster that ensued.
      • Not 3D printers (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @12:53PM (#41632913)

        That this is a patent covering 3D printing is a misunderstanding of the patent by TFA. The patent doesn't talk about 3D printers but manufacturing machinery, defined broad enough to include almost anything from CNC machines to casting. They don't have to wait until 3D printers become commonplace, because this patent covers much more.

      • by jimicus ( 737525 )

        It's patented by the Invention Science Fund - which, as far as I can gather, is a glorified patent troll.

        The thing is, adding this sort of functionality to a 3D printer is an awful lot of development for what benefit? Why would someone who's looking to buy any sort of manufacturing machine, whether it's a 3D printer, a CNC lathe or whatever demand a model that will explicitly look at what's fed into it and refuse to print if it looks too much like some other product in a vast database somewhere? It doesn't

        • Re:RAND standard (Score:5, Interesting)

          by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @02:05PM (#41633705) Journal

          It makes sense if you remember the guild model.

          A sufficiently skilled tinker couldn't make a clock for anyone but himself (and possibly not even that) unless they'd first undertaken an apprenticeship with a master, than a turn as a journeyman clockmaker, and submitted a masterwork to the guild leadership to be allowed their own independent mastership and hallmark.

          This restriction was typically enforced by local (mayoral, or maybe local noble) law enforcement. In other words, you didn't intrude on the functional monopoly of the guild.

          IP consortia are the new guilds. You can't do anything for yourself within their areas of monopoly without running afoul of someone else's patent or copyright. And the guilds have the protection of law, so flouting their monopoly has consequences.

          Remember, the word "guild" is cognate with "gold" for a very good reason.

      • I remember when they tried to legislate copy protection into VHS []. How did that work out again?

    • by mrbene ( 1380531 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:43AM (#41632017)
      It gets implemented one of two ways:
      1. It's a patent to prevent anyone else from implementing DRM in their 3D printers. This may be everyone who makes 3D printers.
      2. It's a patent to generate revenue from everyone who licenses the technology for their 3D printers.

      Either way, the set of 3D printers that do not receive license for this technology wouldn't implement DRM, which would be good for consumers - provided that no legislation goes into effect requiring some form of DRM on 3D printers...

    • It doesn't really even matter if they somehow manage to get this accepted and into the 3D printers, once the hardware is in the hands of the hacker security is a moot point. There is no such thing as fool-proof hardware security, and anyone who things they have it is probably either incompetent or a scam artist. Granted, something like this might deter the average 'user' from screwing around with the 3D printer, but the people who would really use these things to print illegal items are going to find a wa
  • At least this means that if DRM comes to 3D printers, it won't be for at least 20 years.

  • Added Cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mhajicek ( 1582795 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:35AM (#41631883)
    This will require significant bandwidth and processing power, especially to stop circumvention by rotating scaling, cutting (for later assembly) or adding or subtracting insignificant features. This bandwidth and processing power will add significant cost, which I see as fortunate in that it will be a competitive disadvantage for DRM enabled printers.
    • Now, imagine if there were a 3D printing standard that included this restriction system, and a law (for your safety!) that required all 3D printers to implement the standard. I predict that the standard will create such monstrously bloated 3D printers that only industrial applications will be possible.
      • You can still use DRM-encumbered printers to print parts for open-source printers...
        • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @12:06PM (#41632345)
          Which is why I said that the standard would require printers to be too bloated for small scale or home uses. Who will take the time to create parts for a printer that not only does not implement the standard, but which would threaten the revenue model for those industrial 3D printing shops that actually operate 3D printers?

          This is why, if we are going to have a 3D printing revolution, it needs to happen right now before such a standard can be created. That is one of the reasons PCs were so successful: they become popular before X.25 terminals were rammed down everyone's throats. The people who are threatened by 3D printing know this, and they are going to try to stop the revolution before it starts.
      • I saw this the other day, so it shouldn't be too hard to get a DRM-free 3D printer. []
  • by Neil_Brown ( 1568845 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:36AM (#41631893) Homepage

    for rectangles with rounded corners.

    • If I had mod points, I'd probably mod your post "funny" for lack of a "wish I thought of that" option.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:37AM (#41631905)

    a free 3d model of a 3d printer that doesn't have all this crap in it

  • Seriously! WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:37AM (#41631911)

    God, the patent wars are coming to 3d manufacturing. What the heck is the point? I have to check with colgate before I can use my own machine to make myself a custom toothbrush? Is there going to be a DMCA provision for manufacturing at home now? Is it going to be abused like the current process is. I say BULLSHIT!

  • by Githaron ( 2462596 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:37AM (#41631917)
    How can they believe that they can control this in a world where highly advanced 3D printing is possible at home? People will just print their own 3D printers that do not have these restrictions.
    • All VCRs must be vulnerable to the Macrovision attack, by law. What makes you think that 3D printers won't have a similar problem?
      • It is a lot easier to enforce such restricts when everything is made by big manufactures since manufacturing is so expensive and requires significant amounts of skill to tool up the assembly lines. In a world with advanced 3D printers that are cheap enough and small enough to use at home, enforcement becomes impossible. Look digital piracy today. The most that companies and government can hope to do is play wack-a-mole. In such a world, a manufacture's best option is to make things that are so advanced that
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The item "3D printer that do not have these restrictions" will be on the blacklist, so you can't print it.

    • by mpoulton ( 689851 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:57AM (#41632217)

      How can they believe that they can control this in a world where highly advanced 3D printing is possible at home? People will just print their own 3D printers that do not have these restrictions.

      I'm sorry, but "highly advanced" home 3d printing is so far from reality that this doesn't seem plausible in our lifetimes. The last 3D printed part I ordered from a commercial manufacturer was an intricate set of inherently interlocked mechanical components laser-sintered out of a cobalt-chromium superalloy. It literally could not be manufactured by any other process. The last 3D printed part I saw produced by a "home" 3D printer (a RepRap) literally looked like a piece of poop - and it wasn't supposed to.

      Commercial 3D printing is just starting to become economically viable for use as a production technology in some specialized applications. But the gap between the commercial implementations and DIY implementations is huge, and not closing very fast. Mechanical technologies develop much more slowly than electronics. In our lifetimes, we have seen unimaginable advances in electronics, but mechanical manufacturing has advanced only incrementally. And this makes sense. The advances in electronics are facilitated by advances in our understanding of the science involved. But we already understand Newtonian mechanics, thermodynamics, statics, strength of materials, and all the other disciplines involved in mechanical manufacturing. We understand the science very well, and have for over a century. Thus, the improvements in this field come more slowly and arise more from creativity and synthesis rather than from breakthroughs in human knowledge.

      TL;DR: Moore's law doesn't apply to mechanical manufacturing; the rate of progress in this field is slow and disconnected from the rate of progress in electronics; and "highly advanced 3D printing" won't be possible at home any time in the near future.

    • How can they believe that they can control this in a world where highly advanced 3D printing is possible at home? People will just print their own 3D printers that do not have these restrictions.

      If they can restrict printing of shapes then they'll just restrict printing of the shapes needed for 3D printers.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:37AM (#41631927)
    We can't have disruptive technologies that force us to change how we monetize creativity! Let's make the technologies useless, cumbersome, and expensive, so that later on we can claim they were never really worth what everyone thought!

    Oh, and did I mention how terrible it is that we failed to do it with the automobile: []
    • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:46AM (#41632051)

      Wasn't that exactly what the AHRA did, strangle DAT and Minidisc in the cradle.

      • Sony stangled the minidisk by extreme stupidity. If they had not commited to a file system no one else wanted,a dn a compression system no one else wanted, but made it compatible with floppies and MP3, so it could be used for data as well as music, there would have been no problems at all.

        As it was, it could not really be used for data, thus eliminating the lucrative market of people who could not get all their data on one floppy disk.

        • by Ogi_UnixNut ( 916982 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @01:13PM (#41633159) Homepage
          mp3 didn't exist in consumer level hardware when minidisc came out (1992). DRM is what killed minidisc, as due to the DRM, Sony never made a PC "minidisc drive" that could burn audio minidiscs (they were petrified of mass copying). When CD-burners became consumer level hardware, it came to the forefront, and drove mp3 adoption like crazy (as people could now burn their own MP3-CD's). Coupled with ISDN (128kb internet) and the relatively small size of MP3, minidisc was doomed.
  • Sweet! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Garridan ( 597129 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:37AM (#41631929)
    Looks like the patent protects a technology to implement DRM on printers. So... if you want to implement DRM on your printer, you'll have to pay the owner of this patent licensing fees. Otherwise, no DRM. So, non-DRM printers will be cheaper and more readily available.

    Remember guys, a patent is not a law that things must be done this way! It's the opposite -- if things are done this way, you'll have to pay for it.
  • The message is clear (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    do not buy a US made 3D printer, ever.

    • I am pretty sure no one buys US made stuff anyway. The real problem is stuff made in China is able to be sold as "Made in the USA" through trade agreements (WTF?). I do not expect DRM in the EMEA versions.
  • The article conflates the granting of a patent with the passage of a law requiring the use of the patent in all devices.

    I'm sure there is a lot of incipient maggot meat clamoring for such legislation but it remains to be seen whether the maggots get to their brains before they can get it signed into law.

    • This sort of thing can be snuck into the law without too much difficulty, by first creating a standard and then passing a law that requires all 3D printers to implement the standard. The standard will not be able DRM, but about things people will want standardized: data formats, chemistry, electrical safety, etc., and then also the DRM requirement, tucked away in the standard.

      I gave this prediction elsewhere, but I bet that such a standard will make 3D printers too bloated, expensive, and complicated f
      • Sure, they'll try to sneak that in, but the real agenda is government control of which people can self-manufacture what. For example, think about the recent debacle over the printed firearms.

        The point here is that there is a race between the recognition that the government is essentially lawless (its "laws" are not laws by any reasonable Constitutional interpretation) and the imposition of government control on people to make the world safe for lawless government. The incipient maggot-meat is basically

  • by EPAstor ( 933084 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:49AM (#41632083)
    Huh. This is DEFINITELY one of the cases where anyone who reads Sci-Fi knows there's prior art, in the sense of published material describing a system operating in essentially this way. Patent was filed on January 31, 2008... Anyone want to help find stories that mention volumetric printer DRM pre-2008? Cory Doctorow's used the point in several stories - but Makers, at least, wasn't published until 2009. Anything pre-dating? Also, I think I've read an old classic short story that described people surviving a war by use of a synthesis device where they'd disabled the mechanism that prevented the creation of various goods... anyone know what I'm talking about?
    • And anyone reading "Makers" will realize how effective the DRM will be. Sigh...doncha wish they'd just give up on this kind of thing.
    • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @12:05PM (#41632335)

      Sci-fi is decidedly not prior art in patents. I can imagine a device for instantaneous teleportation, but that wouldn't invalidate a patent for such a device, since patents (are supposed to) cover actual inventions, not just an idea for something, which is all sci-fi is. So unless your science fiction comes with detailed drawings and working descriptions detailed enough to actually build the device in question (in which case it isn't fiction), it cannot serve as prior art.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @12:51PM (#41632887)

        Charles Hall was denied the waterbed patent in part because of Heinlein's description of the "hydraulic bed" in Stranger In A Strange Land.
        [url] [/url]

      • since patents (are supposed to) cover actual inventions, not just an idea for something

        Evidently you have no been paying attention to patents being put out. Some of these things are little more than "transmit stuff... on the web" or "pen like device...on a computer" with no actual technology behind.

        The real science fiction here is that some of these ideas becoming patents

    • Diamond Age [], 1995, about nanotechnology. People had nanotech "compilers" in their homes that made nearly everything they needed, even food. Some objects were free, some not.
    • by EPAstor ( 933084 )
      As a note - sorry, yes, I know better, but I failed to edit before posting - sci-fi doesn't provide prior art, but CAN be used to prove obviousness to the standard of the law. (It's the reason no one could patent the water bed - Heinlein described its functioning in detail in Stranger in a Strange Land.)
    • Anyone want to help find stories that mention volumetric printer DRM pre-2008?

      Why would anyone want to (help invalidate a patent for a DRM implementation)? This patent would be a good argument against adopting laws that require DRM for 3D printers: the laws would benefit the patent holder most, and thus be biased (not that this ever stopped adoption of laws for big media).

      They can make all the DRM patents they want, we're free to not implement them (for now anyway).

  • Won't work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:49AM (#41632093) Journal
    This kind of DRM will be about as effective as the copy protection on DVDs or, perhaps, Blu-Ray. That is to say: not very effective at all. Creating machines or software that bypasses this protection will be available to anyone interested not too long after the protection itself has rolled out.
  • A patent doesn't mean it's required to implement. Something like this would have to be integrated into the control software most likely, and many 3d printers and some (but not all) of the software that runs them is open source anyway. You could just remove this bit of code, compile, and go.
  • I wouldn't buy a licence for that patent if I made a 3D-printer.

  • "Downloading a car – or a pair of sneakers – will be entirely possible"

    But totally uneconomical and impractical.

    You may be able to print out various car parts (at least the body work, but not the engine,or transmission) but what about the cost of the printer cartridges. and then you've got to put it all together...

    Kitset cars (like sportscars and replicas, have been available for some time, it hasn't cut into the sales of the major auto companies by any measurable amount.


  • Downloading a car – or a pair of sneakers – will be entirely possible, although Ford and Nike won't be particularly happy if people use their designs to do so.

    I wouldn't worry about it. The MPAA has already stated [] that people wouldn't steal cars. What concerns them is the possibility that people will start 3D printing DVDs.


  • Any type of technology along these lines, be it the printing press, the original phonograph, tape recorders, DATs, MP3 players, has had its makers fight extreme resistance to their existance.

    3D printers are more of the same. DRM isn't surprising, and it will be championed upon the fear of bad guys printing firearms (of course the small detail of barrel pressures will not be mentioned) to get this through Congress as a law, and the patent holder of this will make a mint, since 3D printer makers would have t

    • Printing guns isn't practical, true. The closest realistic use I can see would be printing components required to reactivate deactivated guns.
      • by mlts ( 1038732 ) *

        Very true. However, the Congresscritters who would be mandating a DRM chip in each and every 3D printer (just like the V-chip in TVs) don't know/don't care about that fact. This would be used as a hot button issue so that 3D printers are yanked out of the hands of hobbyists, and only able to be used by larger firms.

        • Why would they print one? It's easier and fast to make a zip gun if you absolutely can't just buy one off your local street corner.

          There is a reason so many criminals already have guns, cause they are easy to get.

          This post is in no way shape or form intended to suggest we should do away with guns, I own a few myself and would prefer to keep them.
  • Alright people, form a group. Short people in front, tall people behind. Does everyone have their props? Lighting, fix that tripod. Tone down the fans, I SAID TONE DOWN THE FANS. These are makers, not storm-chasers.
    You, you, to the left. Spread out on the right. ... ok. Alright people, serious face, game time. ROLLING! All together now, 3... 2... 1...

  • So, if the "maker" community were to create an LLC to hold the patents for all possible ways we can think of enforcing DRM on 3D printers, and then choose not to license such technology, we could be DRM free for the next decade or two?

  • Two of the biggest factors in making a motor vehicle are materials and labor. But in the case of 3D replication, you supply the material and the labor in the form of a robotic platform. So in essence they should be selling you the design files for a lot less money than new car costs because as I said, you are supplying the raw materials.
  • Getting around this is trivial for the knowledgeable. It'll stop everyday people from doing what they do to films - you won't just be able to download anything and use it. But there is absolutely nothing to stop us from recreating a design for personal use.

    That said, because of the costs of the printer and the plastic material, it'll almost always be cheaper to buy the object than to try to manufacture a counterfeit for yourself. You'll sleep easier too.

    • It won't stop everyday people, where do you think the everyday people download their movies and software from now?

      Who do you think cracks or bypasses it's protection.

      I'll give you a hint, someone knowledgeable.
    • You'll sleep easier too.

      I will lose sleep knowing that I printed a replacement part for my car rather than buying it from the company that made my car? I have my doubts about that one...

  • Solution (Score:3, Informative)

    by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @12:09PM (#41632385)
    Well *ahem* the solution obviously is to use the excellent Lulzbot AO-100 printer.
  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @12:10PM (#41632399)
    On your DRM-enabled 3D printer, 3D-print a DRM-disabled 3D-printer.
      1. Good luck printing the electronics
      2. Laws will be passed
      3. 3D printers need to be everywhere, and they need to be something people expect to have access to in their own homes, for a revolution to happen.
  • If they had waited for 3D printers to actually become useful before they attempted to make them useless.
  • This should last about as long as the blu ray drm protection.
  • Instead of trying to implement DRM that would be circumvented, Ford would just watermark their files such that one of the following would occur:
    • The following words would be etched into the trunk lid, hood and doors in 1000pt font: ATTN POLICE THIS CAR IS STOLEN ARREST DRIVER
    • Instead of superimposing an image, the watermark superimposes the engine of a Yugo [], rendering it completely useless outside of Russia. (Ahh Zastava... great guns, shitty cars)
    • The watermarked file produces a car that loses its brak
  • If 3D printers become regulated such that it is illegal to own a 3D printer without DRM. The technology is being designed, improved and assembled by amateurs. There are opensource file formats and 3D modeling software to design and input with. The most complex components can be sold separately and the technology is not so delicate that you can regulate the whole product with patents and only deliver the finished product to the user like with a blu ray player. This is going to be as difficult to enforce
  • Sorry, but companies and patent holder can completely and utterly bite me. I can make for my own use copies of your precious precious ideas and there is NOTHING you can do about it.

  • DRM was about encrypting end-users copies. This is a centralized command/control framework that manually checks the content of each model.

    The difference might seem small, but this is more akin to Hollywood's wet dreams of magical control over everything that happens online []. Good luck with that.

  • by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @12:26PM (#41632613)

    The idea of downloading and printing a car is absolutely retarded.

    Consider what is involved in printing a car that will actually copy a car from a car company.

    You will need several tonnes of raw material to feed the printer and thousands of dollars it will cost to buy and ship and store it.

    You will need the printer large and robust enough to handle building parts that will weigh at least several hundred pounds and the smallest sized part, which is probably at minimum, enough to print an engine block, transmission, or length of frame of the car. Pretty sure this printer is not going to cost $69.99 at Staples. People thinking they are going to print a copy of a Ford using a bunch of parts that are no bigger than a shoebox are sorely out of touch with reality. You are NEVER going to have some system that print a car from the ground up into some completed and fully functional piece of machinery.

    Also consider printing something like a shoe that would be worth wearing. Last I checked my shoes are not made from one material in some unibody design, it contains many components and different types of materials, least of which includes leather which is just not going to be printed out of a machine. I could print something that looks like a shoe, but I am not going to find it enjoyable to wear or as stylish as what Nike is going to sell me.

    People seem to think these limitations are going to be improved or resolved in the immediate future, that home 3D printers are just going to get better with time and this will all be magically feasible. People need to apply some basic common sense and actually think of the logistics of what is involved in printing a car at home. The idea of ripping of a $30k car for a few hundred dollars of parts on a home 3D printing system is going to produce something nobody is going to drive in.

    Sure, I agree that from an industrial point of view, the ability for one corporation to rip off and steal some other design and the print them in some large multi-million dollar printing system is feasible in the near future, but then why go through all the trouble of ripping off another design when its just as easy to create your own design and build it with this system. I don't think Car Company A is going to get away with making cars that look exactly like Car Company B, fundamentally I have no respect for a company that has to steal someone elses designs. I don't think DRM is required because current patent, trademark, and copyright laws will prevent companies from copying designs verbatim and passing them off as their own.

    Some crap industry producing cheap plastic toys or products will be hit hard with home 3D printers, but people got to stop thinking that they are going to have home systems capable reproducing ing ANYTHING with the same quality and standards AND for prices that are significantly cheaper, like Cars or anything else worth owning.

    • > The idea of downloading and printing a car is absolutely retarded.

      Yes, we all already know today that is true. But 100 years from now when we have free energy this will entirely be possible.

      i.e. Not everyone shares your myopic view. What is today's science fiction, is tomorrow's science.

      Today in a standard smart phone we have computing 1,000,000 times more powerful then the first computer that took up an entire room. You need to project the rate of advancement of technology and extrapolate at what w

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @12:30PM (#41632649) Homepage Journal

    It's about prior restraint.

    If you print something identical to a patented or copyrighted item, you deserve the rights holder's notification and requirement to stop, destroy, and no longer do so. But if you 'own' your printer, and load a file, and it happens to be identical to a protected object, well, you get the same notice, just in advance.

    It won't end there.

    If you load a file that is 'substantially' identical, DRM will probably work as well as DMCA takedowns are working, which is 'very well for putative rights holders, not well at all for fair use, for example'.

    I suspect it will evolve from checking for identical files, to checking for 'very similar', to 'like something else'. Eventually, if I get a sneaker sole file from someone, I'll be unable to print it if it loks 'like' a Nike sole, as in relatively flat, foot-shaped, repeititive design elements on the bottom of it, and intended to perform well on asphalt surfaces. Like all the rest.

    Already they want to suppress our ability to print things like firearm lower receivers, under the premise that this is a regulated activity, and you need a license, which in the US is not correct - so long as you are not selling your part either by it self or as part of a working gun. Prior restraint.

    This is going to be an important, hugely important fight. We will have to defend our right to create.

  • A 3D printer with DRM already exists. [] There's an "app store" from which you buy designs, and pay per copy. It seems to be aimed at people who want to turn out models of popular-culture objects.

    The new thing in this patent is recognizing copies of 3D objects by form, rather than merely having DRM on existing files. This looks like one of Intellectual Ventures' front companies. Note the name and location.

    While 3D printing a car is silly, 3D printing replacements for small interior plastic parts is possible now. There are 3D printers big enough to make a car fender, and they're used to make mockups of new car designs.

  • by JobyOne ( 1578377 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:21PM (#41635041) Homepage Journal

    The assignee of this patent is "The Invention Science Fund I, LLC." Sounds like a zany R&D lab, right?


    They appear to be a law firm specializing in patent law []. I smell an up-and-coming patent troll.

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