Last week, reporter Ori Even passed the security inspection at the Knesset whilst carrying a plastic gun designed by Cody Wilson, a 25 year law student. Ori Even created an uproar as he was able to sit pointing the gun at the Netanyahu, the prime minister from a few feet away.
Wilson’s gun may be printed using 3d printing technology. The plans for a printable pistol and for a printable rifle were published on the Internet, earning Wilson a place on WIRED magazine’s list of the 15th most dangerous people in the world.
The gun wasn’t loaded and so was no more dangerous than any other piece of plastic, but even when loaded with a conventional bullet, the signal from a plastic gun is much smaller than from a conventional metal one, and so these plastic weapons are causing a bit of a security headache.
I won’t get into the right for people to bear arms. Although I am sure that American readers will have strong views on the second amendment, I was brought up in the UK where the police do not regularly carry firearms. I think that gun licenses should be limited to those who know how to shoot, don’t have a criminal record and have some need to carry arms. Personally, I surrendered my gun license some years ago, as I found carrying a heavy 9 mm caliber pistol more trouble and responsibility than it was worth. Thankfully, the security situation in Israel is better now than it was a few years ago.
So why am I writing about this? Well, apparently there is some controversy regarding whether 3D printed objects are copyright protectable.
The Israel Copyright Act does not actually relate to printing:
(a) Copyright shall subsist in the following works:
(1) Original works which are literary works, artistic works,
dramatic works or musical works, fixed in any form;
(2) Sound recordings;
provided that the aforesaid works fulfill one of the conditions
set forth in section 8 or that copyright subsists in said works
pursuant to Order in accordance with section 9.
(b) With respect to sub-section (a), originality of a compilation
means the originality in the selection and arrangement of the works
or of the data embodied therein.
Notwithstanding the provisions of section 4, copyright shall not
subsist in “designs” as defined in the Patents and Designs Ordinance
unless the design is not used, nor intended for use in
industrial manufacture.; The Minister may prescribe conditions for
determining when a design is deemed to be used for industrial
I would not go as far as former Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, Dr Meir Noam did, regarding allowing more than one type of protection for the same aspect of an object, and don’t think that the mere fact that an object can be protectable as a design means that it cannot be protected as copyright.
Even if there is some law, somewhere, that defines copyright material as something printed, I would like to think that any sane judge would rule that three dimensional objects are not copyright protected merely because they are ‘printed’.
I also fail to see the relevance. Surely noone is going to try to restrict firearms using copyright. I mean, OK, it is perfectly reasonable to prevent a third party producing a registered design by means of IP laws, or even to prevent copying using copyright, but if the issue is gun distribution or bearing arms, one needs laws against gun distribution. IP laws are not the answer.