Legal Success for Open Filament
Back in 2015, we wrote a short blog post outlining our stance on arbitrarily restricting the types of Filament that could be used in 3D printers. At the time, several companies were limiting the use of filament in their printers to only that filament they deemed "compatible."
Fast forward to 2018 and the problem persists, but not for long. The US Copyright office has now amended their previous act that allowed this sort of brand-restriction in filament. For those of you that have followed ink and toner-based printers for a while, you may remember that manufacturers worked hard to prevent 3rd party cartridges, as it was the consumable cartridge that made them their money. Fortunately for consumers, several legal cases upheld consumers right to use whatever cartridges they chose.
So it was the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) pushed for, and ultimately saw success, with an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), best known for early cases that prevented the download and distribution of digital music. This exemption made it illegal to sell 3D printers that restricted the use of filament in this way.
While we fully support this as individuals, it is the broader scope of the law that we found important. If it was legal to restrict the use of filament in 3D printers, we could see a dramatic impact in our business, as our core products produce filament. Yikes. Not to mention increases in cost, suppression of innovation, and other negative consequences.
We applaud the US Government for not only stepping in and turning this problem back but also the 3D printer companies who never went this route, choosing to earn their profits by producing quality equipment, rather than artificially restricting the use of filament in their machines.