A recent extension of UK copyright for industrially manufactured artistic works represents “a direct assault on the 3D printing revolution,” says Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge. The UK government last month extended copyright for designs from 25 years to the life of the designer plus 70 years. In practice, this is likely to mean a copyright term of over 100 years for furniture and other designed objects.
Falkvinge points out a crucial difference between the previous UK protection for designs, which was based on what are called “design rights” plus a short copyright term, and the situation now, which involves design rights and a much-longer copyright term. With design rights, “you’re absolutely and one hundred percent free to make copies of it for your own use with your own tools and materials,” Falkvinge writes. “When something is under copyright, you are not. Therefore, this move is a direct assault on the 3D printing revolution.”
“Moving furniture design from a [design right] to copyright law means that people can and will indeed be prosecuted for manufacturing their own furniture using their own tools,” Falkvinge claims.
So aside from the (possibly) unintended consequences, who thought it would be a good idea to belly up before big business and extend copyright for such unearthly amounts of time? Why should copyright holders be able to stop working once they hold a successful copyright? Why should humanity have to kowtow to the whims of a copyright holder for years on end, when we could be advancing by building on existing designs?