3DLT, a 3D printing service similar to Shapeways, took its site down today after Wired reported that the site was hosting pirated designs. The company has yet to officially launch — even though the site was live and open for business for some time — but according to Wired, 3DLT listed jewelry designs that belong to Nervous System without the owner's knowledge or consent, under different names and with new descriptions.
"We have hurt the reputation of ourselves and others."
When Nervous System co-founder Jessica Rosencrantz purchased one of these designs for $40, she didn't even receive the necessary STL files to print them. Instead, 3DLT sent her a folder containing a website template for mCube, and nothing that could be 3D printed. Wired also discovered copies of tables by designer Dirk Vander Kooij and 3D-printed shoes by Andreia Chaves, but all of the files were removed from the site shortly before it was taken down.
This isn't the first time we've seen 3D printing sites run into potential copyright issues: Ulrich Schwanitz sent Thingiverse a DMCA takedown notice after another user uploaded a pattern for a 3D Penrose Triangle he claimed to have invented. Schwanitz withdrew the claim, but the issue of design piracy in the 3D printing world remains. While 3DLT's blunder appears to be a placeholder misstep, intellectual property issues will likely become more prevalent as 3D printing becomes increasingly accessible to the masses.