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Concerned about Thingiverse license

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Posted · Concerned about Thingiverse license

As Ultimaking suggests using Thingiverse as repository I wanted to share the concern of some core developers in the RepRap community. Joseph Prusa even took all his obects and left Thingiverse. He left a notice.

The site license (as of today) says:


3.2 License. You hereby grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to Company and its affiliates and partners, an irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free and fully paid, worldwide license to reproduce, distribute, publicly display and perform, prepare derivative works of, incorporate into other works, and otherwise use your User Content, and to grant sublicenses of the foregoing, solely for the purposes of including your User Content in the Site and Services. You agree to irrevocably waive (and cause to be waived) any claims and assertions of moral rights or attribution with respect to your User Content.

3.3 Secondary License. When you upload User Content to the Site or Services, you will be asked to select a secondary copyright license, which is additional to the license you grant to Company and its affiliates and partners in Section 3.2. This license will govern how other Site or Services users may use your User Content.


Their description in "plain English":


What you’re allowing us to do on the Site: since you own your content, we need your permission to use it in whatever way we see fit on the Site, which is what’s allowed here. Make sure you truly do own it. So foreign law doesn’t complicate what’s already complicated with US Copyright law, you waive “Moral Rights”.


The people argue that Thingiverse can do whatever it wants with your stuff, regardless of the license you selected. Even selling your designs and incorporating them in other projects with other licenses (things that the CC does not allow).

See this thread: http://forums.reprap.org/read.php?1,155484,155484

You can complain by makiing a cube and posting it: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:30808

I deleted all my desings and wanted to close the account, but unexpectedly, there is no way of doing that. So I contacted support.

The other repositories I found are:


  • [*]



But are not very confident in their licenses either.

What do you think about this? Should we move to other repositories? Especially now that Stratasys has bought Makerbot and Thingiverse.


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Posted · Concerned about Thingiverse license

I am not a lawyer, but I've spent a lot of time reading technology contracts... :-)

The fuss about this is almost a year old now, and the terms at issue have been in place even longer. Personally, I do have reservations about the direction of Thingiverse and its relationship with MakerBot and now StrataSys, but I feel like this particular furore is rather overblown.

The TOS clearly indicate that the license grant is solely for the purpose of including the content in the site. It's a fairly standard practice for these sorts of content sharing site to include this kind of waiver. The clause about Moral Rights is rather more vague, but it's important to realize that Moral Rights (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_rights) are a distinct concept from economic rights in the work, and one that has very limited meaning in US law (which governs the entire operation of Thingiverse). As suggested in the reprap thread linked to in the original post, it does seem to me like a clumsy legalese way of trying to limit the scope of a problem, rather than a deliberate attempt to steal anything.

The fact that the actual commercial license grant is for a very specific, benign purpose seems to all but eliminate the possibility of Thingiverse having a legal loophole to exploit content without the owner's permission (at least as it relates to this particular part of the agreement).

I hope they will indeed clarify the terms, and make them more user friendly. I think it's BS to claim that it's 'too difficult' to do so. There's no reason that legally sound agreements can't be written in perfectly understandable English that says what it means, and no more. But at the same time, I don't realistically see a way that they could find a way to interpret these TOS clauses in a way that would exploit contributors. I think they would also be incredibly stupid to try, given that the goodwill of the contributors is what provides the value for the site, and indeed, you might argue, for a huge part of the recent MakerBot acquisition.


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