Re: copyrighted SLA parts

From: Bathsheba Grossman (
Date: Sat Jun 08 2002 - 01:11:11 EEST

On 7 Jun 2002, Brock Hinzmann wrote:
> Add to that question: How much different does the stereolithograph/design
> need to be from another design to be unique? A better anology than the
> photograph might be in songwriting. All the notes are the same ones everyone
> else uses and you write them down using the same symbols, but the order
> makes a big difference. Sometimes the order sounds very similar when two
> songs are played, and when they sound too similar, someone sues. If you
> design a surface to undulate in a certain way that changes the way it feels to
> the touch, can you claim distinctiveness that you can copyright? If the
> digital design is exactly the same, but the material you use alters the
> feel, smell, taste, appearance, toxicity, weight, strength, and so on, can it
> be copyrighted?

It'ss my understanding from reading the copyright FAQ
( that copyright protects a work and
all derivative works. Nobody but the holder has the right to prepare
derivative works.

In the PDF doc referenced in question 48, it says that a sculpture
based on a protected drawing is a derivative work rather than a new
work, and therefore isn't allowed. I'd imagine that 'a fortiori', a
prototype made from a protected CAD design is also derivative,
regardless of the material used or any modification to the design.

But if a CAD design is in the public domain, then it gets much harder
to meaningfully protect any model built from it. As far as I can
tell, a model built from the data should be copyrightable as a
derivative work, since a photo of a public-domain painting is. But
that wouldn't stop anyone else from making another model from the same
data, just as you can't stop anyone else from taking another photo of
the same painting (or Elvis sighting, per question 58).

So the copyright on that first model wouldn't be incredibly useful: it
stops people from selling pictures of _your_ model, or from reverse
engineering it, but it doesn't stop them from making their own model,
whether or not they make any change to the original design or the
build material.

Bathsheba Grossman                                         (831) 429-8224
Creative prototyping                             

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