Parts and licensing

So I was just on the phone with a customer when I told him I was trying out 3d printing some parts. he asked if I could make them something he’d seen on Thingiverse that they use as is in other places. it’s like an articulated arm and it useful enough I would like to make some even for me to use which I understand is ok under terms there. but I will need to sell this to them not for free and I have to make some changes to make it work for them. I was just looking at the files and STL’s are a huge pain so I might just make my own parts instead to have better files but is that the right thing to do with the terms of the license? What’s my responsibility with someone else’s design?

You can always add the new item to Thingaverse as a remix, giving credit to the original designer.
There is always a grey area with intellectual property and if they use Thingaverse then they are fine with this remixing of their items.

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If you feel there is a grey area, you can always reach out to the original designer and ask. If you are selling a modified design it gets really grey legally. To my mind the original designer has made something useful, shared it freely with the world. You should at least talk with them, and tell them what you are doing. IMO.

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Yes, I will do that. Looking at today it’s going to be significantly changed but it was still his idea and might be able to use what I change.

Glenn I think it is your call, you don’t have too. There is a line where it isn’t the same. It is your line to draw.

I have to question whether there is a distinction to be made between a copyright and a patent.

I suppose artistic aspects of a given design could be considered covered under copywrite law in the same sense as any written, audio, or video work, but these are also physical things and as such, fall under patent law. So, did the designer patent their design? If not, I’m fairly certain you can incorporate all or parts if it into your own designs.

If it’s something like a human arm I’m fairly certain you can’t copywrite it since it is conceptually neither unique nor original. On the other hand, if they incorporated some artistic element to it, that wouldn’t normally be found on an arm, (let’s say they added scales, for example, to make it look reptillian), that aspect would be copywriteable.

At least that’s as far as I understand it.

well, (copy)right is things you create like stories and text and things on paper ads and most artistic things like sculpture and photographs, it’s generally understood that you need permission to use those things in a commercial manner. patents cover ideas and things and have to be purchased and then enforced by the patent holder. When I go to thingiverse there is an agreement that I’m responsible for but it’s not clear to me if I can get an idea from there and use it commercially ( I can if credit is passed along). in the end, it didn’t matter he told me his thing isn’t original anyway and doesn’t really work the way it is for me so I’m only using the concept. (This is why I resist going to trade shows heh)

@Glenn - Best have a read of this first: Legal - Intellectual Property (IP) Policy | MakerBot 3D Printers
And look at the license specified for the item of interest as it will specify what you as the licensee can and cannot do without infringing on the rights of the licensor. The licence deed is what will determine if you can use it commercially.

Copyright and patents are related but different legal ideas. Copyright extends to more than just stories and text and artistic endeavours.

Yes, I did see that but it’s not anything to do with this., that’s protecting them from DMCA claims and mistakes from having infringing materials on their website. I was more concerned with the way Creative Commons Licenses worked and it seems under the CC I could do anything if I attributed to him whatever parts of his I used in my product.


I do believe if you change over 10% of a product or artwork then it legally becomes your own? Which is how when a movie like war of the world’s comes out, a whole bunch of low budget knock offs can come out at the same time,
Or how weird al makes up his entire albums without getting sued.
Or how no name store brands make a brand of cookies that look confusingly similar to something well known

However honesty is always the best policy, that being said inspiration comes from everywhere

Well, probably not. If the value in whatever you’re copying is actually in the idea or in a small part of the overall then an argument can be made against you that the 10% is actually 90% of what makes it work or 90% of the cost of their R&D to make it work. Really, it’s all up to interpretation and not by you. There are things called predatory patents that depend on this interpretation and the stakes are really high because it’s all tech companies that are using it like a revenue stream. It gets complicated and if you hang your hat on a number like that and whatever your copying belongs to someone with more means than you then you’re going to be in trouble if you succeed.

Weird Al does parodies, which are not consider a copyright infringement. He does, however, insist on getting an OK from the original artist. For most artists, it’s a win-win. Yes, they get made fun of, but it increases public interest in the original. There is a notable hold-out: nothing in Weird Al’s repertoire covers anything by Prince. Prince flatly refused to grant permission.

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Of course if you were making large profits then yes lawyers are required. All I’m saying is what I’ve heard, nothing I say constitutes legal or even sound advice lol.

I was just putting it out there to be confirmed or refuted.
My general consensus on anything I make is that it will never see the light of day anyways so I basically do whatever.

Selling anything in any way that can be tracked is a minefield anymore

Nobody is going to bother you. sometimes even if you sell stuff you shouldn’t you’re still ok but as soon as you show up in someone’s sales figures then its a diferent story.