Those that produce DRM are never really considered to be ahead of the game. In almost every instance it's a reactionary measure designed to provide a level of ass-covering for higher ups in a company that isn't really aware of how easy it will be circumvented. However when it comes to 3D printing, one firm has seen the future and it wants to put a stop to it before it starts.
Intellectual Ventures, the company run by ex Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold, has been granted a patent by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office titled “Manufacturing control system,” that is designed to prevent people from using 3D printers of the future to make their own copies of patent protected products.
According to Technology Review, it works by comparing a the digital thumbprint of what a user is about to print, to a database of copyright protected products. If a match is found, the user won't be able to print off their new shoe, or model or any other type of product that can easily be reproduced, without paying a small fee.
While this might seem like Myhrvold is stamping out the fun of 3D printing before it even starts, this is a future that may not come to pass. While Intellectual Ventures may have the patent on this system, there's no guarantee that companies will make use of it. If DRM for the games, music and movie industry has shown us anything, its that it will be broken, it's just a matter of when. At that point, the product offered to the legitimate consumer becomes inferior to the one of the copyright breacher.
KitGuru Says: With that in mind, if you take into consideration the fact that commercial manufacturers will be producing products in far vaster quantities, far more efficiently and far more cost effectively than a 3D printer would at home – even over the next few decades with costs coming down, this isn't likely to change – the best way for companies to deal with home printing is to compete with it directly, be better than the alternative.
What do you guys think?