Music Business

3D Printing Of Vinyl Records Not Yet A Threat To Copyright Holders

Nirvana-nevermindBy Mike Masnick, this first appeared on Techdirt.

We've been predicting for a while now that 3D printing is an area of disruption that is going to lead to legal disputes. Our expectations were that as tangible goods makers were disrupted in the same manner as content producers, it was only a matter of time. But what if 3D printing continued to disrupt content producers as well? Hephaestus points us to a story about how Amanda Ghassaei, from Instructables, is experimenting with 3D printing vinyl records.

As you can see in the video below, she's using a super high-end machine, and the output is very limited for now (in both the amount of a song that can be produced and the quality — which is not great), but it's not hard to imagine how this will improve over time:

It is, of course, noteworthy, that her sample records all are of popular music for which it is unlikely she holds the copyright. It seems unlikely that anyone is actually going to go after her for copyright infringement, but it's yet another area where the technology is likely to be way ahead of laws that attempt to block "copying." And, yes, the full explanation for how to do this has been posted to the Instructables site, though you'll need a very high end printer to match the (already limited) quality of Ghassaei's records. For what it's worth, Ghassaei has also chosen to post some of the 3D models to The Pirate Bay's 3D printing site as well, and that appears to include more music covered by copyright — so perhaps we'll see the labels freak out already just because of any association with TPB, even if almost no one can actually do anything with this, and the few who can might get a version of the music much crappier than something you'd record off the radio.


Share on:


  1. Of course that this – even when of quality – can never constitute a threat to artists, but, instead, a possibility. Notice that printing those records is no copyright infringement but a private copy, and as for sharing the 3D model, well, she had the wav in the first place, and could have shared that.

  2. Because the sound is a by-product of the two elements, is this technically infringement of copyright? Objects can be trademarked, but of course, these shapes have not been. Just a thought.

  3. Digital dynamics vs. Analog Dynamics – she says when her daft punk record hits it’s bass it throws the needle… I bet her 3d files are based on digitally optimized audio files. Back to the drawing tablet.

  4. The transformation is made as part of the process of the act of private copying, thus not a copyright infringement. It’s actually equivalent, legally, to copying the WAV files you bought into a cassette tape: perfectly legal.

  5. Great article, Its really a very informative posting indeed. Resources like the one you mentioned here will be very useful to me! I expect more and more article like this from you in the future as well.

  6. This article was a pleasant surprise.
    Obviously the whole 3D printing copywright issue will be something that wil be dealt with.
    But as an engineer and product designer, I find it fantastic that the technology is to a point that we can essentially reproduce vinyl records.
    I am definitely excited by this and a story that I read about 3D printing metal components.

  7. 3D printing is one of many exponential technologies that will fundamentally reshape our world. At Singularity U were had the opportunity to see the latest iterations of RepRap, a self replicating 3D printer. So in the not so distant future, we wall all have them.

  8. Will 3d printers cause yet another shit-storm of rich musicians pretending to be victims?
    Will anyone in the world give a shit?

Comments are closed.