Theft of 3D models has long been an issue with designers, but I found one automated theft detection service that could help.
The problem is that while designers spend months, perhaps even years, carefully creating incredibly detailed designs, they end up as a digital file. And we all know that digital files are easily copyable and transportable.
The unfortunate scenario we find ourselves in is that designers are in constant fear of their work being pirated and resold by another party. Even worse, sometimes these “other parties” claim the work as their own. It’s blatant theft, but anyone buying the work really has no idea who the true creator might be.
In today’s highly competitive world, with many jobs being automated out of existence, some people scramble to find any way to make a living. And copying digital files is one way to do so, regardless of the legality.
But it’s not right.
Lumecluster Designs Stolen
Recently we wrote a story about one notable 3D print designer, Melissa Ng of Lumecluster, who was astonished to discover her designs being sold online by another party, again one who claimed them as their own.
If you know how much work it can take to create one of Ng’s designs, you can imagine the sense of loss when a digital copy is simply taken and used by someone else.
Curiously, Ng apparently has never released her design files so it is entirely unknown how these files came into the possession of others.
But that’s just one instance of design theft; this sort of thing happens constantly worldwide everyday. If a designer like Ng manages to catch one perp (which apparently occurred only because of a tip from another observant designer familiar with her work), then another can pop up somewhere else. It could even be the same perp with a different storefront!
How can a designer, who should spend their time designing, not doing detective work, keep up with all the crooks? It turns out there is a service that can do so.
I’m looking at Pirat.io, a new service that can provide constant monitoring of online activities.
How Does Pirat.io Work?
It’s much like an Internet search service, that continually scans all available websites to create an index of links, a process known as “spidering”. This is a well-understood technology that while normally used to make web search services, could also be used to detect frauds.
Here’s how it works: the designer signs up for a plan with the service and provides a number of identifying materials. Then Pirat.io uses their AI algorithms to attempt to locate matches while they spider the Internet. If they do find a match, they can automatically generate a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claim against the host of the offending content.
I should say that Pirat.io seems to search not only easily viewable public web pages, but also has the ability to reach into private forums, P2P traffic, torrents and other “hidden” areas of the Internet. If matching content is discovered in any of these places, then DMCAs are issued.
Pirat.io provides three different plans. At the lowest level, €30 (US$33.60) per month gets you a daily scan for one product across the entire Internet, with up to 100 DMCAs issued.
A €50 (US$56) plan scan every six hours for up to four products, with up to 400 DMCAs issued per month.
Finally, their “Ultimate” plan is priced at €75 (US$84) and covers 15 products every hour with unlimited DMCA takedown notices sent every month.
Yes, this is a paid service and I suspect while these price levels are not enormous in absolute terms, they could be viewed as expensive to struggling designers, who rarely make a lot of money at the best of times. However, for a successful designer who is making money on their works, it may be that Pirat.io is an appropriate solution.