Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Copy-right or -wrong: Catan and Guns

Picture of Catan set from articles in Jan. 2011

So lately there has been a lot of discussion of 3D printing regulation and its possible implications for the industry, whether from government or larger corporations. This comes after Stratasys recently seized a printer that was leased to a man that was working to create an open-source gun.  This goes to show that my previous prediction about weaponry being the catalyst for regulation of (and a spotlight on) the 3D printing industry may turn out to be true (see my previous analysis of WikiWeapons here).

Get this Catan border frame on Ponoko here
Get 3D tiles like this on Shapeways  here.
Get these pieces on Thingiverse here.
But this is not the first time that the regulation and censor has come up, another example is my personal favorite board game Settlers of Catan. In searching around the web you find a number of Catan related objects, like border frames, 3D tiles, and building pieces. What they all have in common is that the augment the original Catan set in some way without being in the same price range or completeness of the original Catan board. But back in January 2011 there was much talk (here and here) as a Thingiverse user, Sublime, posted a complete Catan set (pictured above). Fast forward to October 2012, a search on Thingiverse yields no such user or plan, which leads me to believe that after some dispute (possibly legal) IT WAS TAKEN DOWN!! [SEE NOTE FOR REVISION 10/16/12] This does not mean that Thingiverse (owned by Makerbot) is bad, it just exemplifies the exploration of what will and will not be "acceptable" in the 3D economy. The current definition seems to be that if it complements or supplements it is OK, but if it is a complete replacement that is another story. As many predict, the 3D economy will have many growing pains as lawyers and regulators work with developers and innovators to shape what the future will look like. One thing is for sure, it will not be easy, already there are more projects (here) like Sublime's creating Catan mock-ups, but the question is if they get attention will they also be taken down?

Check out this timelapse video of the printing of all the pieces for a Catan board below:

UPDATE 10-16-12: Thanks to Criedieki for pointing out that Sublime has moved all of their Catan products to github (here)