Duplicate Kickstarter Detected

By on August 19th, 2017 in Hardware

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 A comparison of two Kickstarter projects reveals extreme similarities
A comparison of two Kickstarter projects reveals extreme similarities

Apologies to our readers: yesterday we posted a story regarding a project that appears to be a duplicate!

The project in question was the seemingly useful 3D print spool enclosure project by John Lehman. The project attempts to produce a reusable spool container that provides a reliable method of storing a spool, protecting it from dust and moisture, yet still enabling it to be used in active 3D printing operations without removing it from the container. 

This is actually a very good idea. It’s so good that virtually the same concept is used by Stratasys for their highly popular uPrint professional 3D printer: a spool of material is inserted into a protective cartridge, which includes desiccant to keep moisture at bay. The cartridge is loaded into the uPrint for operations. 

If it works for Stratasys, why wouldn’t the same concept work for everyone else, including those using open filament 3D printers that by necessity must use “unprotected” filament?

That’s what got me excited about the project, so we wrote a story on it. The product was being launched through Kickstarter, where many 3D printers and associated products begin their runs. 


Longtime Fabbaloo commenter posted this: 

Looks to me like you got the wool pulled over your eyes, Kerry, which is surprising (frankly shocking), hiven how consistently thorough and analytical you’ve been here to date.

This looks like a cut and paste of Lehman’s funded Nov 2016 Kickstarter. It looks like *nothing* has changed – if that’s the case, nothing new is being created and Lehman, in that scenario would be using Kickstarter as a store, which is verboten.

Is this true? I took a look. 

Sure enough, there was a prior Kickstarter from the same person in 2016, located here

This venture collected USD$4,544 from 33 backers for what seems to be the same product. In fact, the images are pretty much identical to those in the current Kickstarter project, located here

Pricing of the product is the same. 

But how close are the text descriptions? I examined this by using a word comparison site, CopyScape. The results were interesting:

  • 2,132 matching words were found
  • URL Old: 2,847 words, 75% matched
  • URL New: 2,658 words, 80% matched

CopyScape shows you sequences of text that match, and there are many between these two. One sequence of 295 absolutely identical words is shown at top. 

The differences are almost entirely dates (which are obviously different), “Reward no longer available” / “Limited 4 left” and similar items. 

This Kickstarter is literally a copy of a prior launch.   

Is this wrong? I checked Kickstarter’s Terms of Use. In there, you will find this passage:

Throughout the process, creators owe their backers a high standard of effort, honest communication, and a dedication to bringing the project to life. At the same time, backers must understand that when they back a project, they’re helping to create something new — not ordering something that already exists

[Emphasis mine]

So it seems that Mr. Lehman may in fact be breaching the Kickstarter terms of use. 

While there are plenty of Kickstarter scandals, this is a new one for me, although relatively harmless compared to some. Typically the failure scenario involves a company taking large amounts of cash from many backers, and then disappearing one way or another. That doesn’t seem to be the case here. In fact, comments on the prior Kickstarter campaign seem mostly positive. 

As NliteN suggests, this may be a vendor simply using Kickstarter as an advertising platform. Not cool, but the product seems useful nevertheless. 

Sigh, we may have to search through earlier Kickstarter projects from now on. 

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!