Makers Empire: Australian Copyright Law, 3D Printing, and the 'Ideas Boom'

Rimmer, Matthew (2017) Makers Empire: Australian Copyright Law, 3D Printing, and the 'Ideas Boom'. In Mendis, Dinusha, Lemley, Mark, & Rimmer, Matthew (Eds.) 3D Printing and Beyond: The Intellectual Property and Legal Implications Surrounding 3D Printing and Emerging Technology. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham (UK) and Northampton (Mass.). (In Press)


In Australia, there has been an interest in integrating 3D printing into government policies in respect of education, innovation, and manufacturing. There has been an increasing concern about the need to boost Australia’s national and science technology policy and performance. Of particular concern has been the decline in Australia’s manufacturing industries. Much like the United States, there has been a hope in Australia that 3D printing will revive Australia’s advanced manufacturing capacities. As Guy Rundle observed, there has been much interest in the manufacturing hubs of 3D printing in the United States. The ‘America Makes’ program has involved the creation of advanced manufacturing hubs to stimulate innovation – particularly in regions of the United States, which have suffered from economic depression. There has been an interest in emulating this innovation model in Australia. There has also been a deep problem in terms of the commercialisation of technology in Australia – with many inventions languishing in the so-called ‘Valley of Death’. The Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promoted an innovation agenda as leader of the Conservative coalition of the Liberal Party and the National Party. He has highlighted the role of 3D printing. For instance, Turnbull promoted the work of Stephen Brinks from 3D Brink at Western Sydney University. The education, innovation, and manufacturing initiatives in the United States have certainly attracted interest and attention in Australia.


This Chapter considers a number of developments in respect of Australian copyright law, 3D Printing, and the Maker Movement. Part 1 focuses upon copyright subsistence about 3D printing. 3D printing raises questions about the nature and scope of the intellectual property commons. There have been issues associated with the protection of art, craft, and designs associated with intellectual property. Part 2 examines concerns about copyright infringement, and 3D printing. It focuses upon questions surrounding the authorisation of copyright infringement. It also looks at the regime of intermediary liability, as well as matters of technological protection measures. There is also consideration of Australia’s new copyright site-blocking laws. Part 3 focuses upon the debate over copyright exceptions in Australia, in light of the work of the Australian Law Reform Commission, and the Productivity Commission. In particular, there is a discussion of the merits of Australia adopting an open-ended, defence of fair use – like the United States. Such an exception would be particularly helpful for 3D printing, the Maker Movement, and crowdfunding.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 96839
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional URLs:
Keywords: 3D Printing, Copyright Law, Innovation Policy, The Maker Movement, Copyright/ Designs Overlap, Copyright Infringement, Fair Use
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Intellectual Property Law (180115)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100) > Communication Technology and Digital Media Studies (200102)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > CULTURAL STUDIES (200200) > Cultural Theory (200204)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Deposited On: 12 Jul 2016 22:27
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2016 01:41

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