3DPL released: an Open Source License for 3D Printed things

Sketch by Olivier van Herpt

Sketch by Olivier van Herpt

At YouMagine we’ve spent the last months creating the 3DPL for the 3D printing community. The 3DPL is a license for 3D Printed things that has been specially made so that people can create, improve and share their inventions with the world. Most of all we want to let us all stand on the shoulders of giants. We want people to build upon previous technologies, improve them, remix them and individualize them. We wish to create the preconditions for a 3D printed world where all the stuff in the world is iteratively and fluidly collectively improved. The 3DPL is a part of our effort to make all the things in the world malleable.

We’re doing this for you and so would like your help. Please give us feedback. Tell us what doesn’t make sense to you, what you hate, what we should change. Please involve others. We’re especially interested in home 3D printer users, companies that use 3D printing, lawyers, people from the wider open source community, inventors, artists, designers, makers and creators in the broadest sense. The 3DPL itself can be found here on Medium and you can comment on it there. Feel free also to ask questions or discuss it in the comments below this post. We consider the license to be in beta, so anything and everything is open for discussion and change. We would like to make it as inclusive as possible in order to cater to the entire 3D printing community so please get stuck in there and tell us what we need to improve.

Why should you get involved in shaping the 3DPL?

  • We have a real opportunity here to lay the foundations for a world where much of the emerging technology landscape will be available to all under an open source license. A world where a good portion of the inventions made in the future will be shared and created through 3D printing.
  • Other open source licenses were not created with 3D printing in mind.
  • In order to safeguard and encourage creation we have to properly protect inventors and innovators or progress and breakthroughs will be impeded.
  • In order to ensure progress on collectively developed technologies disputes over intellectual property should be resolved in a quick and efficient manner.
  • In order to encourage sharing and remix it should be clear what rights are held by whom and what one can do with a file that has been shared.
  • Since the 3DPL is the first and only license for 3D printed things it may just end up being the standard one everyone uses. And it would suck if the 3DPL sucked.
Sketch by Olivier van Herpt

Sketch by Olivier van Herpt

What are some interesting things about the 3DPL?

  • The design must always be attributed.
  • All subsequent derivatives of a shared file must be available for remix and sharing.
  • If the creator requires that you include reference to be printed on or in the physical printed object, such as a logo or name, you have to respect that and are not allowed to remove that reference without the creator’s approval.
  • If one doesn’t abide by the terms of the license the rights granted under the 3DPL will be terminated immediately.
  • If you fail to comply with the license such as selling a work that was meant to be non-commercial then you must pay the creator 3 times the gross revenue you made on the sale.
  • Arbitration for conflicts between parties is arranged for in accordance with the WIPO Expert Determination Rules.

We have 3 license types:

REMIX: With a REMIX license your derivative work must be available to remix and share by others.

REMIX — NON COM A REMIX — NON COM license restricts the use of the Design File, the modified Design File and any Designed Product to non-commercial use only. The Design File, the Modified Design File or any Designed Product may not be used with the intent of making money directly or indirectly from it.

REMIX — RIGHTS MELT REMIX — NON COM for 12 months melting down to REMIX after 12 months. With a REMIX — RIGHTS MELT license your design file is available as a non-commercial share-alike file for 12 months. After this period the license will automatically become REMIX.


Sketches by Olivier van Herpt

17 thoughts on “3DPL released: an Open Source License for 3D Printed things

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  4. Dale Price

    Why not make a distinction between editable source CAD files and read-only (but printable) STL/AMF/etc? Ideally both should be required: STL/AMFs are a printable format that’s accessible to everyone, but CAD source files are usually required in order to actually remix anything.

    The GPL does something similar by requiring source code to be distributed along with binaries. This is important as it means people who remix a work have to provide their remix in an editable format so that others can continue to modify it. Otherwise someone could take your CAD design, add to it, and only release the STL, effectively preventing you or anyone else from incorporating their (now read-only) changes.

    1. Joris Peels Post author

      Dale, thats an interesting idea. I will look into it. We have a single broad definition here due to us wanting to cater to future file formats and different ways of remixing files.

  5. Pingback: Feedback needed on the 3DPL: an Open Source License for 3D printing | 3D PrintNerd

  6. Gyrobot

    I would think whichever is the download website of choice, ie Youmagine, Github, Thingiverse etc, they will have to include the facility for users to accept this licence agreement before the ability to download becomes available. Otherwise the contract is non-binding without the agreement of both parties.

    A bit like the EULA which you have to agree to and accept before many software programmes will install.

    Could I sell a second hand and no longer required printer if it had printed parts on it that were REMIX — NON COM. I guess not without the permission of every IP rights owner? I currently don’t have to ask permission to sell goods second hand.

    1. Gervase Markham

      No – a license is not a contract. Without the license, copyright law says you can’t reproduce or use the file at all. So if someone does that, they have either consented to the license, or they are copying illegally.

      So no click-through is necessary.

  7. Dewi Morgan

    What a ghastly, ghastly thing. Every single one of the bulletpoints fills me with revulsion. It is far worse than even the GPL. Please, promote properly open Public Domain/CC0 designs, and keep this monopoly-protecting nastiness as far as possible from 3D makering as possible. Encourage Openness, not Free(tm)ness.

    But let’s address the worst points.

    > The design must always be attributed.

    Straight out the gate, you screw anyone like who wants to create an anon design: if you release it anonymously under this license, it can’t be reused by anyone. And if we do release it with our names attached, but don’t care about credit, and don’t want to shackle people with such a requirement, then we also don’t get to use any variation of your license.

    Still, if that drives the best and most giving to a better license like PD/CC0, that’s no bad thing.

    > All subsequent derivatives of a shared file must be available for remix and sharing.

    This just has a chilling effect on reuse, encourages large businesses to roll their own solutions and patent them, and removes choice from small businesses and individual creators who would often prefer to use more permissive licenses for their work, but are forbidden because just one component was tainted by *PL.

    > If the creator requires that you include reference to be printed on or in the physical printed object, such as a logo or name, you have to respect that and are not allowed to remove that reference without the creator’s approval.

    Firstly, there’s a grammar fail here: possibly “a reference”?

    Secondly, please consider changing this to more correctly represent Open design principles, and not protect closed monopolies. Do not invite and welcome them into the open 3D community. If you must reuse someone’s protected trademark, then they are not being open, and they are not sharing: they are driven by an advertising agenda, nothing more. Consider something like this:

    – NO open design may prohibit any change. If you require your logo to remain on it, then you are reserving the right to prevent others from reproducing it under trademark law. This would not be open, and yet you would benefit from claiming it was. You don’t get to abuse this license in this way.

    If the GPL had prevented the removal of Red Hat logos and trademarks from Red Hat, there would never have been CentOs.

    > If you fail to comply with the license such as selling a work that was meant to be non-commercial then you must pay the creator 3 times the gross revenue you made on the sale.

    You need to make it clear that the person liable is the person who relicenses it, not the person who reuses an incorrectly relicensed derivative work. That is, if I see a public-domain licensed item, and sell that, then later I find that the file was using an element from a *PL-licensed item, then I shouldn’t be liable for a gargantuan fine – the person who claimed to have the rights to license it under PD should be.

    Otherwise, *no item ever* can be safely used, since you can’t know whether it’s just something that someone has falsely relicensed.

    In fact, without that point clarified, I’d consider it a great use of my time to attack people’s confidence in this noxious license by re-releasing (yes, falsely) as sellable every single item released under no-resell 3DPL, and encouraging others to do so, so that people would find they cannot trust any 3DPL shape to be resellable.

  8. Ernst-Jan Louwers

    The whole idea indeed is that you give back your own changes in editable format. Maybe we should provide even more clarity on that in the 3DPL. But I agree with Joris that we should not narrow it down by including current technical formats and existing ways of remixing.
    Just for the record: 3DPL is designed and managed by YouMagine and my law firm Louwers IP|Technology Advocaten 🙂

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  10. Leigh Dodds

    Why aren’t the Creative Commons licences sufficient? At this stage in the evolution of open source/software/data culture I think the onus on anyone creating a new licences is to justify their existence. Licence proliferation doesn’t help anyone. What does this address that existing licences don’t?

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  12. Gervase MarkhamGGervase Markham

    There are large communities of people out there who are used to drafting licenses compatible with open principles. The opensource.org license-discuss list is one. Have you contacted any of these communities to ask them to help with this process?

    I agree with the commenter above that you need a strong explanation of why existing open licenses are not sufficient.

    “If the creator requires that you include reference to be printed on or in the physical printed object, such as a logo or name, you have to respect that and are not allowed to remove that reference without the creator’s approval.”

    This sounds to me very like a restriction on how you can modify the work, which would not be open source if it were in a software license. It is also unreasonable – if I take an object that someone else has made and transform it beyond all recognition, my new object is still a derivative work of the old, but has very little to do with the original author. Would they even want their name on it? You should examine the attribution rules in Creative Commons 4.0.

    * The license does not make it at all clear how you indicate which of the options you have chosen. With source code, you can attach license boilerplate text to each file, but that’s not possible with a binary file. The license needs to explain how to mark files so they are clearly under a particular form of the 3DPL. Just giving people a copy of the 3DPL along with the file doesn’t work, because you’ve made a license with options.

    * A license with options also runs into the “Creative Commons problem” – if you say “this file is under the 3DPL”, then no-one knows what that means.

    * “THE WORK MAY BE PROTECTED UNDER OTHER APPLICABLE LAWS. ” What does that mean? — “Other” than what? You’ve not talked about any laws yet.

    * “New versions will be published with a unique version number on https://youmagine.com/” — That’s all very well, but how do new versions apply to stuff licensed under old versions? It’s not clear.

    * “intellectual property” — please don’t use this term, which lumps together three or more entirely different areas of law. If you mean “copyrights”, say so. If you mean “patents”, say so.

    * “With a REMIX license your derivative work must be available to remix and share by others.” — this is a strange use of “your”. Earlier, “you” applied to the person putting the file under the 3DPL. Now, “you” is a person considering modifying an existing file under 3DPL.

    * I’m not sure if you can use copyright law to prevent me using an object I 3D print from a file for certain purposes (e.g. commercial). A license is not a contract; you can’t put arbitrary terms in it. You can only restrict what copyright law allows. You can restrict me printing the file, but you can’t restrict what I do with the resulting object. Also, what if I give it away? The person I give it to is not a party to the license, so I can’t see any even tentative legal theory which would bind them to only use the object non-commercially.

    * In REMIX MELT, if 12 months is from when the file is published, how does a user who receives the file know when that was?

    * “and vice versa” — this text is redundant.

    * “by sharing it on the public Internet.” — this is not open source, because it fails the Desert Island Test. It’s also meaningless – I can put it on the public internet at a URL no-one will ever guess. https://wiki.debian.org/DesertIslandTest

    * ”

    * You should have a breach restoration clause, like GPLv3.

    * 4.2 is too broad. _Any_ provision, really? If I were a company lawyer assessing legal risk, this would set off massive alarm bells in my head. I wouldn’t touch 3DPL objects with a bargepole.

    * “are subject to Dutch law exclusively”. That’s going to be a massive problem if you want this license to be international.

    * “The Licensee may assign his license rights or grant sub-licenses.” — my understanding is that doing it this way (as opposed to the Licensor granting rights to all people downstream directly) has problems when one of the licenses in the chain gets terminated.

    * “The Licensee shall not use or make reference to any of the names (including acronyms and abbreviations), images, or logos under which the Licensor is known, save in so far as required to comply with section 3.” — this goes far too far. What, ever? In their life? In any context? You can’t restrict people from referring to other people.

    * “This 3DPL does not in any way prevail over the YouMagine Terms of Use governing the use of the YouMagine platform and services, including limitations with respect to illegal content.” — if this is a generic license, this needs to go.

    In summary: you are undertaking something much more complex than you think, you haven’t explained in detail why existing licenses are unsuitable, you aren’t talking to the right people, and your timeline is much too aggressive. If you really want this to be the best license for 3D objects, stop, take a deep breath and rethink 🙂

    (license guy for Mozilla; worked on the MPL 2 and OFL)

  13. Voodoo

    Great project, I mainly use thingiverse.com for household item and gift ideas and it would be nice to have a more simplified way to make some changes.
    I currently use blender because it gives me the option to cutomize the model to what I need or to start something from scratch but it is honestly overkill for the purpose and my family members have a problem to get started with it.
    I therefore thing there is still a huge demand for a 3D model software which allows you to easily customize existing models.
    It would be nice to have some options to easily change a surface structure. Eg. Have a box and allow a nice symmetric pattern…
    Or to have comment used objects to add to a model like a hook?

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