Boundaries of private copying in 3D printing

Authors: Mikko Antikainen (Hanken School of Economics)

Development of 3D printing technology is creating tension within contemporary intellectual property law by changing the technological and economic landscape and consumer behavior like the digital revolution did before. However, its effects on markets, intellectual property law and innovation are still poorly understood. This paper examines the effects of technological change on law, in particular on copyright law, using Lessig´s four point modality framework theory and applying it to 3D printing technology. The paper analyses whether the three modalities – norm, market and architecture – are in contradiction with the current contemporary copyright law and whether their roles as regulators are reduced or reconfigured. Additionally, the study examines whether our contemporary copyright law can adapt to this technological change by a flexible interpretation of copyright exception in Europe and explores if the imbalance of right and exception is so great that legal change is necessary. The paper argues that the development of 3D printing technology has indeed downplayed the role of the law by affecting other modalities. However, even though legal change might be necessary there is a possibility for copyright to adapt to this technological change through legal interpretation and flexibility created by private copying exception.

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