ExtremeTech writes about how DRM may impact the 3D printing revolution. The site noticed that Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO and founder of patent holder Intellectual Ventures, has been granted an expansive patent on DRM for 3D printing. The patent covers a technology that would require the printer to connect to the Internet and verify that you have authorization to print the object, to prevent you from printing protected work.
The system envisioned by Myhrvold would be used to prevent users of 3D printers from abusing “object production rights.” The idea is that you would load a digital file into your computer and before any printing could take place, you would have to connect to some remote server that checks to make sure you have authorization to print the object. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s basically what happened to music in the wake of Napster.
Copyright law is a complicated beast, and it’s not traditionally applicable to objects. However, a new device, invention, or design can be patented. This is where Intellectual Ventures (IV) makes its money, and probably why it’s interested in this kind of DRM. The company acquires patents on various technologies and inventions, then sues those it believes to be infringing. This has led to many calling IV a patent troll, and they probably have a point.