ArsTechnica has a nice article on the IP implications of 3D printing:
And it’s precisely because of its potential as a game changer that 3D printing presents challenging legal questions best addressed before the technology becomes ubiquitous.
Of course, IP will play a huge role in the creation and protection of 3D objects. It is good that the IP issues are getting some attention now, while 3D printers are still pretty cost-prohibitive (unless you make this one), and people aren’t exactly used to printing replacement parts for their appliances yet. That means that the industries involved can start figuring out licensing deals and protection/enforcement mechanisms. But if you could print a new glass you just broke, or a new dog toy…wouldn’t you want to?
As we’ve seen with the more typical content industry (i.e. music and film), disruptive tech is not something that is much appreciated. 3D printing would put even more control in the hands of consumers/the Internet, so I don’t think they are going to take this in stride, either. But, I’m a big fan of the future, and I just hope that “promoting progress” doesn’t get in the way of, well, progress.