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A Controversy in 3D

FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2015, file photo, singer Katy Perry performs during halftime of the NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game in Glendale, Ariz. The dancing sharks that stole some of the spotlight during Perry's Super Bowl halftime show have taken a bite out of an artist's bid to sell small figurines of them. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
Katy Perry's shark dancer became the focus of a 3D-printing legal dispute.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany’s annual sales related to 3D printing will increase by 15 percent to a total of around €35 billion ($38.8 billion) by 2020, the economics ministry estimates.

  • Facts


    • 3D printing can be used to make virtually anything, from prosthetics to toys.
    • No court verdicts have yet been issued in Germany in connection with disputes arising from 3D printing.
    • German lawmakers should consider the various issues and decide on ways to issue legal clarity about 3D printing, one expert says.
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Singer Katy Perry’s performance at the Super Bowl in America a year ago had a legal repercussion. The singer appeared onstage with two dancers in shark costumes, and the one on the left hopped about somewhat clumsily. “Left Shark,” as the dancer was subsequently known on the Internet, became famous overnight.

An entrepreneur wanted to make money out of that notoriety and decided to sell models of the shark on the 3D-printing platform Shapeways. Soon thereafter, he received a letter from Ms. Perry’s lawyers: They sent a cease-and-desist order, asserting copyright infringement.

It was one of the first times an act arising from use of a 3D printer led to legal proceedings. In Germany, no verdicts have yet been issued in connection with the technology. But the more it is used, the more legal disputes can be expected.

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