Sunday, December 6, 2020

3D Printing the Hobby

Democracy is the reinterpretation of the power of ourselves.
Inspirobot knows about IP law.
A little over a year ago, I got my first 3D printer - an Anycubic Photon.  

It's taken that long for me to get used to it, and start getting great results.  Now mind you, this wasn't a constant process.  I've been very busy this year.  

After navigating through thousands of objects (I have a very minimal background in 3D development) I finally began to grasp how things are done, how to get good prints, how to calibrate the resin and all that stuff.  I might talk about my initial failings and how I overcame them, but today I want to talk about using the 3D printer in our hobbies.

I've been reading a lot of articles with opinions on this.  Some people think it's unethical to print models to represent game models.  Some people think it's illegal.  All of those people are wrong.

While I agree with almost all the points in that post, there's are some things that have really been bothering me.  Also, like I mentioned - I'm finally getting reliable results from the machine.  So, I decided to introduce the 3D printer to the blog and address these concerns here, and sort of clearly delimit my intent and practices.  

First of all, let's talk about the laws regarding IP Infringement.  There are different kinds of infringement and it's important that we differentiate.  I won't talk about any specific countries' laws because we the hobbyists are literally all over the world.  

Yet we can talk in general - and generally, it is illegal to sell a thing that has been copied.  This is known as copyright infringement.  In regards to a 3D printer, it would be directly copying a model and then offering it for sale.  However the method you accomplish this, this is the only 'copyright infringement' that can actually occur here.  If you're just printing it for yourself, however - well, that's not any infringement.  Whether you used photogrammetry or downloaded an .stl, no crime has been committed.

Trademark infringement is the other kind of IP infringement, and this is trickier.  Again, if you're not offering the item for sale then you are protected.  This is why you'll see a lot of similar models without any trademarked iconography or slogans.  You can create and sell an object of similar design without any sort of worry as long as you don't violate anyone's trademark - which is very easy not to do.

So that's pretty much it as far as the law goes.  You can do a lot of reading about it but this is what it ultimately boils down to in most cases.  The body of law still applies to us as hobbyists.  You can see, in almost every case, we are legally able to print anything we want to...if we are actually able to do that.

We've established now that it is perfectly lawful for us to use the 3D printer to do whatever we want for our own games.

I do not believe at all that there is any sort of ethical concern involved, ESPECIALLY AS FAR AS WARGAMING GOES.

I hear current day fanboys talk about 3D printing as if it's a sin and I want to slap them.  They weren't here in the days of deodorant tanks and converted WWII jams.  It makes me sick.  They think the galaxy is so small a place that every ork trukk looks the same.

This hobby is supposed to be creative.  Yet the cult-like mindset of so many fans of the hobby means that we are doomed to see the exact same set of 'official' models every single game.  This mentality is only a by-product of some larger companies co-opting the hobby and putting artificial restrictions on what we do in order to encourage spending on their specific product.  Commercially, this makes sense for shows/tournaments devoted to that specific game line by the company or it's partners.

I can agree.  I'll bring official Warmachine models when I hit the official Warmachine shows.  Lord knows that no matter what, I'll be able to bring official models to official shows.  For myself, the last time I was at an 'official' tournament in my area was 2003.  I missed the Privateer Press Gang when it was here, but that ended a few years back.  

We don't get much in what you'd call 'official support' out here.  Instead it just appears as a endless treadmill of pointless rule changes and adjustments.  Stop and think about it.  There's only one big-name company for which 3D printing seems to be an issue.  The 900lb gorilla.  Gorilla Watson.  Certainly the amount of DCMA's they are constantly issuing would seem to indicate it's a problem.

You can only speculate as to why that may be. 

I feel any lingering question of ethics is completely irrelevant here.  

You'll buy what you want and make / build / print the rest.  By playing the game at all you are actually adding value to the product - we can't play the game by ourselves after all.  The larger the player pool, the more value the game has for everyone.  No matter what, you're feeding into the hobby here.  Even if your entire army is 3D printed.

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