In my previous blog, I have discussed copyright and the situation of 3D print service providers in this respect. I wrote that the 3D print service provider that allows employees to scan everything the commerciall acting customer provides, is facing a problem, and that this also applies to the printing of a file from the customer by an employee.
By Hub Dohmen
I consciously wrote ‘commercially acting’ customer because there are countries – like The Netherlands – where the difference between an entrepreneur and a consumer is important. In The Netherlands, we have a ‘home copy exception’. Under this exception, the consumer is allowed to make a limited number of copies for strictly personal use. The consumer is also allowed to commission someone else to make these copies for the consumer (again, still for the strictly personal use of the commissioning customer).
In addition, within this home copy regulation, the consumer may not give away his home copy, or put it online as a second-hand product – which is quite difficult to check by the way. So, may the ‘copyshop-like’ 3D print service provider scan and/or print everything for the consumer and trust this is an assignment to scan/print a home copy? Yes, if he can prove that it really concerns a home copy.
On any occasion, the escape route ‘commissioned copy’ will not be available to the print service provider if he himself has an assortment of copies on the website: the print service provider then has a problem when these are copyrighted. The home copy must, after all, be intended for a predetermined consumer and limited to at most a few copies of a specific object.
As for the consumer who wishes to invoke the home copy exception, there is still a peculiarity: he may, for his own use, scan a borrowed copyrighted object to print, but if he is too lazy to scan and pulls a file from Piratebay, he strikes (at least in Europe) the European Court ruling from 2014 that – also applicable to consumers – declared: “downloading from an obviously illegal source” to be against the law.
Can the consumer scan everything, including borrowed and rented items or objects at an exhibition, for example? Or can a company or museum prohibit this in the rental contract or by putting p a billboard at the entrance saying ‘No pictures! And no scans either!’? The answer is yes, this can be contractually prohibited which has been done for a long time already. In ‘just’ shooting an image or recording a motion picture that is, and obviously this is expanding to 3D scans.