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El Triángulo de Penrose

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fauno authored and mauriciopasquier committed Dec 15, 2013
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The coming of augmented property: A constructivist lesson for the critics of intellectual property.

Johan Söderberg


Introduction
Almost as soon as a consumer-grade 3D printer became widely available to the public, the first intellectual property conflict arose over printable, three-dimensional objects. In February 2011, the first cease and desist letter was sent to Thingiverse, a repository for files of such objects owned by the 3D printing company Makerbot Industries. The designer who sent the cease and desist letter, Ulrich Schwanitz, claimed ownership over an object that had been uploaded to Thingiverse. The object in question was a model of a ”Penrose triangle”. It is a well-known optical illusion where the sides of the triangle end in the wrong places. The object cannot exist except as a two-dimensional representation on a piece of paper. Schwanitz had designed a three-dimensional object which, when viewed from the right angle, appears to be a Penrose triangle. A user of Thingiverse had reverse-engineered the object from a photo. Fearing secondary liability under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, Makerbot Industries decided to take down the file, though the legal situation was highly uncertain. The original, two-dimensional representation of the Penrose Triangle design is in the public domain, and it remains unclear if Schwanitz asserted his copyright over the design file, that is, over the software code, or over the blueprint of the structure of the object, or over the photo with the image of the Penrose triangle. After public outcry Schwanitz dropped his charges and released the design for free (Rideout, 2012). However, this initial encounter has been followed by requests from more strident, and powerful, corporate claimants. It is intriguing that the first copyright claim over printable, three-dimensional objects concerned a shape that on logical grounds cannot exist in physical, embodied space, except as an optical illusion and a trickery of the eye.

---
title: "¡Los átomos también quieren ser libres!"
author: "Johan Söderberg"
layout: post
---

¡Los átomos también quieren ser libres!
=======================================

Introducción
------------

Introduction Almost as soon as a consumer-grade 3D printer became widely
available to the public, the first intellectual property conflict
arose over printable, three-dimensional objects. In February 2011, the
first cease and desist letter was sent to Thingiverse, a repository
for files of such objects owned by the 3D printing company Makerbot
Industries. The designer who sent the cease and desist letter, Ulrich
Schwanitz, claimed ownership over an object that had been uploaded
to Thingiverse. The object in question was a model of a ”Penrose
triangle”. It is a well-known optical illusion where the sides of
the triangle end in the wrong places. The object cannot exist except
as a two-dimensional representation on a piece of paper. Schwanitz
had designed a three-dimensional object which, when viewed from the
right angle, appears to be a Penrose triangle. A user of Thingiverse
had reverse-engineered the object from a photo. Fearing secondary
liability under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, Makerbot Industries
decided to take down the file, though the legal situation was highly
uncertain. The original, two-dimensional representation of the Penrose
Triangle design is in the public domain, and it remains unclear if
Schwanitz asserted his copyright over the design file, that is, over
the software code, or over the blueprint of the structure of the
object, or over the photo with the image of the Penrose triangle. After
public outcry Schwanitz dropped his charges and released the design
for free (Rideout, 2012). However, this initial encounter has been
followed by requests from more strident, and powerful, corporate
claimants. It is intriguing that the first copyright claim over
printable, three-dimensional objects concerned a shape that on logical
grounds cannot exist in physical, embodied space, except as an optical
illusion and a trickery of the eye.

Casi tan pronto como la primera impresora 3D de usuario final se volvió
disponible al público, surgió el primer conflicto sobre la propiedad
intelectual[^ndt1] de los objetos tridimensionales imprimibles. En
febrero del 2011, _Thingiverse_, un repositorio de archivos de objetos
propiedad de la fabricantes de impresoras 3D _Makerbog Industries_,
recibió su primer _cease & desist_[^ndt2]. El diseñador que la envió,
Ulrich Schwanitz, hizo un reclamo de propiedad sobre un objeto que había
sido subido a Thingiverse. El objeto es cuestión era un modelo del
"Triángulo de Penrose". Se trata de una muy conocida ilusión óptica
donde los lados del triángulo terminan en los lugares incorrectos. El
objeto no puede existir a excepción de una representación bidimensional
en papel. Schwanitz diseñó un objeto tridimensional que al ser
observado desde el ángulo correcto, se asemeja a un Triángulo de
Penrose. Un usuario de Thingiverse le había hecho ingeniería inversa a
partir de una foto. Temiendo responsabilidad secundaria bajo la
_Digital Millenium Copyright Act_, Makerbot Industries decidió eliminar
el archivo, aunque la situación legal era altamente incierta. La
representación bidimensional original del Triángulo de Penrose se
encuentra en el dominio público y no resulta claro si Schwanitz reclamó
derechos sobre el archivo, es decir sobre el código de software, sobre
los planos de la estructura del objeto o sobre la foto con la imagen del
Triángulo de Penrose. Después de las quejas públicas, Schwanitz
renunció a los cargos y liberó el diseño [@rideout-2012]. Sin embargo,
este primer encuentro ha sido seguido por reclamos corporativos más
estridentes y poderosos. Resulta interesante que el primer reclamo de
copyright sobre objetos tridimensionales imprimibles hayan sido sobre
una forma que en términos lógicos no puede existir en el espacio físico,
corpóreo, a excepción de una ilusión óptica que engaña al ojo.


[^ndt1]: El autor no cree que haya una distinción entre propiedad y
propiedad intelectual. Ver ¡Hackers GNUníos!

[^ndt2]: Documento legal utilizado para obligar la eliminación de obras.

Already a year before the Penrose debacle, many hobbyists in the community building open source 3D printers had expressed doubts about the role of Thingiverse. Responding to those doubts, one of the founders of the Swedish filesharing service The Pirate Bay launched a new website called ”The Product Bay”. It was announced that the repository would be fully dedicated to information freedom. In conjunction with this initiative, young adherers of the Swedish Pirate Party made visits to furniture- and design fairs in order to pass the message on to IKEA-salesmen and professional designers. Their days were numbered, just like the days of the middlemen in the music- and film-industry. This threat, or promise, cuts to the heart of the rationale behind the development of the open source 3D printer. The technology was developed by a group of hobbyists and hackers with the explicit aim of expanding the conflict over intellectual property to tangible, physical goods (Bowyer, 2004). A pointer is an auxiliary project to the 3D printer, the development of a user-friendly 3D scanner. It holds out the promise of circumventing in physical space any control that legal authorities might try to exercise over repositories and computer networks. With a 3D scanner sitting next to the 3D-printer, design files can be generated (that is, scanned) directly from existing physical objects.

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