Stian Westlake - 14.01.2013
It's against the law to download a pirated £0.99 MP3. But (technology permitting) it seems that printing your own £249.00 iPod is fine.
That's one implication of this very useful paper on the state of UK law on 3D printing, by the excellent Simon Bradshaw (@major_clanger on Twitter) and co.
The paper explains that under UK law, you can print an awful lot of things with no legal comeback. (Assuming of course you have a good enough 3D printer*.)
Some interesting points from the article:
So while patents and design rights stop companies from copying each other's products and selling them, they provide much less protection from home users.
An interesting catch is that schools and universities, while non-commercial, aren't private, so while pupils may be able to print out their own iPhones at home, doing it at school would be patent-breaking.
So, tech permitting, and if some reprobate sends you the specs, it looks like you can print your own iPhone**. Be prepared for interesting times in the world of IP.
* Of course, most 3D printers now are pretty basic, and print in plastic. Printing a working iPhone is still some considerable way off. But 3D printers can print in more and more materials, at ever greater degrees of resolutions, so chances are these legal points will become relevant quite soon.
** Boringly, I'd better add that I'm not a lawyer and none of this constitutes legal advice either from me or from Nesta. If you happen to have a secret super-top-end prototype 3D metal, glass and multi-plastic printer, please seek legal advice before printing other people's intellectual property.