If you happened to miss out on the controversy involving Thingiverse last week, here’s a swift recap of what went down. One Thingiverse user, named loubie, had noticed that her create had been taken straight of Thingiverse and was being sold in 3D printed form on eBay by a an account vaguely named only3Dprint. Upset that there was no compensation, let alone any credit or recognition for her create, loubie got the attention of the Maker community by telling her story on Thingiverse through her Sad Face version. Since and so, other Thingiverse users have noticed that their creates are in addition being sold by only3Dprint on eBay, and the controversy has actually garnered a assistive response of 3D printing law tremendous Michael Weinberg.


Now, most likely due to rising complaints inside their Maker community, MakerBot has only released a statement addressing the controversy, and appears to be (wisely) backing up loubie and the rest of their Thingiverse users. In the statement, MakerBot claimed that their users are able-bodied to nominate the license they wish to preserve their create, and this comes with an version for a Creative Commons (CC) license. So, assuming that at very least a few of the 2,000 3D printed versions being listed for sale by the eBay account have a CC license attached to them, only3Dprint is unquestionably in violation of the Thingiverse terms of use.

But the issue here appears to be the fact that Thingiverse does not own the versions upload by their users, so what can they quite do to stop third party platforms such as only3Dprint of violating their terms? This is a part of their not long ago released statement that muddles the answer to this question up a bit:

MakerBot is committed to preserveing the rights of its community participants. In the case of the eBay seller described above, our legal team is preparing communication to the appropriate parties. Since MakerBot does not own the content that our users upload to Thingiverse, we in addition encourage community participants who recognize third party conduct that violates their CC licenses to contact the platforms that are harboring such behavior.


So although their legal team is reportedly working on communications with the eBay seller, they are unquestionably encouraging their users to reach out to only3Dprint themselves. The problem with that, that was created apparent by their response to loubie, is that only3Dprint does not seem to ponder they’re in the wrong here. “When you uploaded your items onto Thingiverse for weight distribution, you lost all rights to them whatsoever,”only3Dprint said in response to loubie. “They entered what is known in the legal world as “public domain”…No court in the USA has yet ruled a CAD version an original work or art. So, you have no right to exclude others of utilizing the CAD versions you have uploaded.”

By telling their users that they assist them, but that they should try and deal with it themselves or through a lawyer (that I expect most Thingiverse users can’t quite afford), it’s unclear precisely how MakerBot plans to alleviate the situation. But, a few other 3D marketplaces, such as Cults, are bringing this controversy as an opportunity to try and show why their services may be a safer alternative for 3D versions. According to the Cults team, each 3D create on their platform is preserveed with a CC license as soon as it is uploaded. Here’s a part of the Cults team’s statement addressing the Sad Face controversy:

“Contrary to Thingiverse, on Cults you have to register to be able-bodied to download a creation. And when creating your account, you have to fully accept our Terms and Conditions, where it is strictly specified that, unless you decide to do otherwise, no one can use your work for a commercial purpose.”

It appears that, if this issue expands or gains anymore traction in the maker community, MakerBot may have to reponder the way that the Thingiverse terms of use work. But I’m certain they had nothing but the most intentions by putting the creative licensing of 3D versions into the hands of their uses, the unclear, hands-off approach they’ve taken may be a big reason why this has happened. Similar to loubie, I’m certain most Thingiverse users now feel that their 3D versions are vulnerable-bodied to being downloaded and sold by vague third party platforms like only3Dprint, that is a feeling that I’m quite certain MakerBot does not want their Thingiverse users to have. Here’s to a swift (and hopefully painless) resolution!

Tyler Koslow

About The Author

Tyler Koslow is a Brooklyn-based writer for 3D Printing Industry, and has in addition generated content for publications and companies such as Dell, Brooklyn Magazine, and Equity Arcade. His content is focused on a wide range of topics which include tech, gaming, and music . Tyler is in addition a habitual instrument player, a writer of fiction, and generally all around fun haver. Tyler obtained a Bachelor’s degree studying English-Creative Writing at the University of Central Florida in 2008.

  • Jonathan Naylor

    Not that I was asked, and not that I have a full belief of the situation outside of what I have read in this article; But I tend to side with only3Dprint.

    You offer the source of your work to a public web space for others to reproduce on their making equipment, and you have a problem with copy rights? This appears like a conflicting stance.

    Don’t want your work regenerated? Don’t share its source to a community dedicated to reproduction.

    For that matter, how much liability do you want in the distribution of this content to the public? Its only3dprint’s material, time, marketing, and logistics on the line here. Lets say this user distributes a thousand units of your version. and half of them malfunction causing injure to property, loss of life, or assets in a few way. Are you willing to accept the responsibility with the profit?

    Pick a side, open source, or closed source.

    • ThisGuy

      I don’t accept the responsibility nor do I accept the payments. If I wrote an article for a newspaper or my blog, you cannot copy it word for word to sell or actually submit elsewhere as your own work; you can print it out for by yourself, share it with your friends, etc.