Saturday, March 27, 2010

In defence of Makerbot/Bre

A lot of people are up in arms over Bre's post on the Makerbot Blog. They say he over reacted. As someone who works with intellectual property rights as my day job, I just have to inform the nay naysayers that Bre had an absolute right to get annoyed, he honestly had the right to call a lawyer if he had chosen too. Here is why.

-Under GFDL, uploading your designs replaces righting a check as the way you "pay" the person who designed it, and gain the right to sell it as a commercial product.

-The person who runs Techzonestore on Ebay has been offering Gen 3 based boards for sell on the RepRap forum for 8 weeks, that's 2 full months, and had not made any move to publish the design. Not a thing was said until they had sold likely over 30 full sets and unnumbered individual boards. I can only assume SOMEONE at Makerbot has to go to the RepRap forum every so often, or I at least hope they do.

-Even after being informed that they where breaking the GFDL, they continued to post new boards on Ebay, and if you read the forum, it sound like they where dragging their feet on uploading the files (They didn't refuse, but they definately didn't seem in a hurry either).

-Makerbot, or more specifically the guys that run Makerbot are not hard to contact, just type in Makerbot NY phone number and google gives you their office number. I am sure if they had called and said "We modified your files for gen3 electronics, but can't figure out how to upload them to comply with GFDL, can you help?" I am sure that they would have receive all curtisy. Before you call fowl, how many modified versions of the Makerbot are posted on Thingiverse? If they wanted to protect their profit, they wouldn't be there.

As far as the people who are accusing Makerbot of having some form of profit motive in this, get real. If Techzone had done what they did to Makerbot to my company (or any other medium sized company), the CFO would have sent layers and demanded back payment, and compensation (which would have been in their right), not posted a slightly terse blog post.

Bre is a passionate guy, he looks like he is going to cry or dance whenever he talks about 3d printing. I don't think Bre was mad, I think Bre was hurt. Luckily it looks like Techzone is going to upload the files, and Sebastian the head of the Wiki gnomes will make sure they are in a modifiable format so the letter of the law is followed.

Just remember folks, you pay for the design you modified by inviting FURTHER MODIFICATION of your design. If you deviate from this path, it will start with terse blog posts, and it will likely end with lawyers and pain for the community.


  1. I don't think that anybody is disputing his *right* to get annoyed, but seeing how Bre is an extremely visible person within this community, every accusation he raises weighs heavily, so a tad bit of sensitivity would have been nice.

    You are probably totally right that he *could* have sent the lawyers after Kimberly and Sebastian, but you know what, at least that would have been a private resolution between the two parties. Posting attacks against someone on the internet is simply an asshole thing to do, especially if the gravity of the situation is not entirely clear yet *and* if you are perfectly aware of the weight your words have within the community. There should have been some sort of private exchange between the parties, but dragging it into the public was obviously an attempt to discredit a potential competitor - at least that's what it looks like.

    The point is: It's not a question of right or wrong, it's a question of how, and Bre showed an immense lack of sensitivity in this area, and I'm delighted to see that the RepRap community as a whole is not one that jumps at each other, but rather wants to discuss matters with a cool head - and that's why Bre's hot-headed post kinda backfired on him (funny how he already deleted his tweet linking to the post. I'm pretty sure he regrets having written that piece.).

  2. As I said, it seems like the response of someone who was personally hurt, not a cool business move. Likely he does regret the tenner of the response. But in the end, Makerbot was the victim, not her. She made profit from someone else s property without following it's rules.

    Hopefully the community has learned a valuable lesson from this, and we can all move on, with no ill will for Makerbot or Techzone.