3DShare: Sharing an Open Source license for 3D Printed things and our ToS

At YouMagine we want to help people collaborate, remix and design together online. We want to build the tooling to make it easier for anyone to design, work together and share using 3D printing. We’re not alone on this, there are a lot of fellow travellers who are doing the same or similar things. We’ve been thinking about how we can act as a force multiplier by helping our competitors and companies in the same field. If we can make things cheaper, easier or better for them the chance that one of us succeeds will be higher. The chance that we will collectively succeed in making things as supple as other data will be higher also. After all YouMagine wants to make the plumbing for 3D printing and make things as malleable as memes.  We see our task as that of creating the necessary infrastructure on top of which others can build. And not in the sense of being a platform as Apple is a closed platform but rather a source of data, information and tooling for other people’s platforms and the community as a whole. We’re not a platform,  but rather a foundation supporting other platforms not locking anyone in. Simultaneously we’ve been thinking about our community and how we can work together with them to create a better YouMagine. We’ve decided to let our community influence and guide all the major decisions and directions we take. So we want you to tell us where we need to go and what we should be doing. Feel free to at any time contact me with feedback, ideas, critiques etc.


This is why we’re sharing our first major Share3D project with you. Share3D is a part of YouMagine that we will share with the “internet of things”, open hardware & 3D printing communities. It is a set of tools to help them accelerate their development. We looked at obstacles to a 3D printed world, costs that others would have to incur & problems other people were not solving. We decided that the most important first thing to make and share were in the legal realm. A lot of people overlook legal and its implications. When people do look into it they all individually have to spend a lot of time and money to understand all of the patent, copyright & liability implications and issues surrounding the sharing of things. We concluded that we would have the highest immediate impact on the community by ameliorating their risks and to give their users clarity about their rights. We’ve holistically looked at this issue from the point of the designer, the 3D printer operator, the platform and the end user. We have tried to come up with the clearest & most equitable guidelines for all. We’ve found this especially important because a lot of the people involved in the sharing of things are persons but may be faced with severe measures usually reserved for companies (eg infringement, product liability, wrongful death). Also a single tort case in the US for example would be enough to sink any one of the platforms in the Sharing of Things market.

Sharing, so that others can build.

This is why we will create a Terms of Service & license for 3D printed things and share these with the 3D printing, open hardware and IoT communities.

Terms of Service

We’ve decided to share our Terms of Service with any and all platforms or websites that do co-collaboration, sharing of 3D data, online 3D collaboration, IoT & 3D printing. We will use our experience to work with our community on formulating an ideal ToS document that can be used by any and all free of charge.

ToS Goals

  • We want a huge corporate platform and a one man band to both be able to let people remix and share online without falling foul of relevant laws.
  • We also want a ToS to be available that respects community member’s rights. We want this ToS to be as clear and concise as possible and via bullet points point out the major legal implications to users.
  • We want this ToS to be functional in reducing legal risk to platform owners and community members alike across the breath of criminal, IP & other tort risks.
  • We want to preempt the first serious legal challenge for patent infringement on a platform by doing what we can to mitigate the impact this would have on an organization or individual.
  • We want to preempt the first serious product or manufacturer liability case by clearly reducing the risk to the 3D printer operator, end user and platform.
  • We want to make sure that end users of parts understand that there is a “user beware” principle in effect and that the functionality of end use parts can not be guaranteed. We want to indemnify 3D printer operators and designers from any liability that could be incurred from the use of their parts.
  • We want to make sure that printer operators and end users of parts understand that the fact that the designer, person who modifies a part, person who prints out a part & the user are all separate actors and have very little control individually over the functionality of the end use part.
  • We want to ensure that end users understand that because parts are designed and modified by many the functionality and fitness of any individual part for any individual task can not be guaranteed by any individual.
  • We want end users of parts to understand that due to the high variability of 3D printers, 3D printer settings & consumables the same file printed by different people or printers may result in a completely different object.
  • We want end users to understand that the same level of product expectation can not be required from a product that is individually 3D printed than that of one who is mass produced.
  • We want end users of parts and any parties to whom they give access to those parts to understand that if a file has been designed and shared for free it would be unreasonable for them to expect any kind of true functionality from that part.
  • We want to create this document with as much feedback as is possible.

Some questions we’d like to ask:

Questions 1.

  1. Of the things mentioned above, what do you disagree with?
  2. What have we missed?
  3. What are some IoT or open hardware projects emerging that we should pay special attention to?
  4. For automobiles, drones and the like liability poses a high risk. Should we exclude these things from the license? Make a another license for high risk things?
  5. What do you feel we should do about guns? We could exclude these completely or let them be shared?
  6. Is it fair to the user to in a blanket way just label everything that is made with IoT, Open hardware & 3D printing experimental?  Is it tenable in the long run?

3DShare: An open source license for 3D printed things

Existing licensing such as Creative Commons or GPL has been created for use with software or things such as images. These licensing structures are not designed for physical objects but rather for bytes alone. We anticipate a remix world where complex 3D printed things will be made using lots of different parts and many designers. Attribution, attribution of changes, taxonomies of the things themselves and functionality of the thing would not fit in existing licenses. Also product liability and other real world concerns have not been defined within the framework of these licenses. This is especially important because we see things emerging such as 3D printed houses, open hardware projects that spawn consumer devices & the use of open source design files in commercial products & projects. Because of this we will together with our community and lawyers create an open source license for 3D printed things. The aim of this license is to provide for an as free and fair as possible sharing of design files for objets. We hope to encourage collaboration and remix of design files, projects, devices and tools. We hope to make it clear which rights are and are not transferred. We hope to also make it clear what the liability and level of functionality that can be expected is. We also want to let designers decide who can do what with their files under what circumstances.

We would like your feedback on what this license should contain. So below some questions:

Questions 2

  1. Open Source or Free Software?
  2. If Mary makes a design file for a hinge and Bob adapts it. Should Bob & Mary be considered the designers of the object? Or should Mary be designated as the designer and Bob the “adaptor” of it?
  3. If a team of ten designs an object together should they be listed in order of the level of their contribution? Or should they all be considered the designer of the object collectively & equally?
  4. Should a designer be able to specify that their object can not be remixed or changed in any way?
  5. Should a designer be able to specify that their design can not be used in a particular type of design? eg my hinge can not be used in a gun design.
  6. Should a designer be able to specify that their design not be used in particular type of object. eg You can use my hinge for a football helmet design but not to make an actual football helmet.
  7. Should the license always require attribution? From all designers and remixers of a particular design?
  8. Do we want to embed “half-lives” in the license? So, my design can not be used for commercial purposes for two years, but after this period can be.
  9. Do we want people to be able to differentiate between the types of users and their rights. eg My design may not be used for commercial products except if it is a prosthetic device. Or companies that have revenues over 1m may not use my design for commercial products. Or frighteningly, Italians may not use my design for commercial products but Belgians will be able to?
  10. Similarly, do we want designers to be able to specify that the design can only be used for a particular application, group or purpose, excluding all others? eg My hinge design can only be remixed if it is to be used by the e-Nable community to make a Talon 3D printed prosthetic.  eg My design is non-commercial except for this list of ten friends enclosed who can totally use it for commercial applications. eg My design may only be used to make interior design objects namely red vases, nothing else.
  11. Should we always err towards protecting designers rights or towards increasing the sharability of the design?


We will gather feedback and discuss these points for the next 3 weeks. Then we will in two weeks work on and prepare the Alpha version of both the ToS and the license. We hope to present these for feedback by the end of September

Please comment and ask questions below, email joris@youmagine.com to contribute. You can also look at this article over on Medium and comment next to it.