The Problem with DEFCAD
Cody Wilson, a self-described "crypto-anarchist" (sweet jesus here we go) and founder of Defense Distributed, the group that made news last year for 3D printing gun parts is back in the limelight for a new project to build an alternative to Thingiverse to house illicit 3D models that are usually pulled from other websites. The new site is called DEFCAD and promises to open source ALL THE THINGS while drawing a line in the sand when it comes to 3D models and copyright/IP infringement. Let me say this from the outset: I agree that a site like DEFCAD needs to exist. I also believe DEFCAD and Cody Wilson are doing a lot of harm to the 3D printing community and wish they'd stop insisting on misrepresenting that community. It seems like every conversation I have with a person these days that has heard about 3D printing from any national news outlet has to mention the guns. "I heard people are printing guns now!" "Will Congress ban 3D printing?" I even mentioned guns when talking about the coming disruption of the manufacturing industry as a result of 3D printing. I think it's a provocative topic and one worth talking about. But there's no doubt at this point that the conversation is being hijacked by fanatics with an axe to grind. Despite the assurance way down at the bottom of the DEFCAD site that it won't just be about guns, they play a starring role in the entire premise of the funding drive. They proudly tout the stats of how many people have downloaded their firearms files and amongst the backer awards are dogtags, one of which has the precious nickname "The Concealed Carry". Wilson and his group take multiple opportunities to lob potshots at the Thingiverse, MakerBot's 3D model community, due to their stricter Terms of Service that forbid weapons and models that infringe on copyright. While I agree that we need to do a better job of talking about and defending IP infringement and what that really means in a world of 3D design and printing, and I don't expect MakerBot to have the resources to take that battle on, I've always felt The Pirate Bay with it's Physibles category was a great place for this. Go to Thingiverse for all the normal stuff and TPB for the illicit stuff that nobody else wants to house. The point being that they both have a place and a purpose. DEFCAD comes off as defensive and petty by trying to drag Thingiverse through the mud calling it a place for "trinkets and garden gnomes". DEFCAD, Defense Distributed, and Cody Wilson are distractions to the amazing developments happening in 3D printing. They're hijacking the conversation because they like guns and want the discussion to be about that. And now they have a platform to continue to push that agenda. What would really be revolutionary and cool would be for Cody Wilson and his group to respect that a lot of us just don't care about guns and while you're busy setting yourself on fire as a martyr for your cause, the end result is an increased focus on regulation for an industry and culture that's just beginning to thrive. Thanks for nothing.