If you think SOPA, PIPA, or the even more evil ACTA is going to stop people from using the internet for copying and distributing copyrighted material without license then you’re in for a surprise. More even, there’s a whole new area of interest; physical objects.
The Pirate Bay already has launched a new category for digital downloads of physical objects. A Pirate Bayer calling himself WInstonQ2038 explained the thinking behind the new category on the site’s blog: “We believe that the next step in copying will be made from digital form into physical form. It will be physical objects. Or as we decided to call them: Physibles. Data objects that are able (and feasible) to become physical.”
All you need to take advantage of the files on offer is a 3D printer. Ok, that’s not as easy as downloading a MP3, but it opens up the possibility of intellectual property infringement for physical objects. Sites that share 3D printer files already exist as does the first user to receive a cease-and-desist order from movie studio Paramount after creating a 3D replica of a prop from the film Super 8.
At least two of the objects currently listed in the Physibles category are potentially infringing versions of existing designs, but WInstonQ2038 is aiming for a much more honorable future: “The benefit to society is huge. No more shipping huge amount of products around the world. No more shipping the broken products back. No more child labour. We’ll be able to print food for hungry people.”
That might seem a bit too ambitious – 3D printed food is currently limited to the likes of chocolate – but if this takes off we could go where no man has gone before: The StarTrek replicator. Awesome! And of course to some super advanced DRM-like anti-pirating device, but let’s worry about that later.