My Account Was Suspended Because My Post Was Too Awesome
It’s almost like I’m not paying for this service.
Heres what got my blog about design & manufacturing kicked off the internet.
Prohibition or Renaissance: The Coming IP Wars
The clash between Intellectual Property and cheap, distributed, additive manufacturing is both inevitable and predictable. It’s one of those deciding battles where regardless of the outcome, the world is different afterwards for better or worse.
The conflict is obvious – Patents and Copyright are about protecting ideas, while the line of development Manufacturing is following demands these ideas be created, shared, improved upon ad infinitum. Trademarks aren’t really included, since that’s about brand identity.
Within the next few years this issue will come to the forefront, with conventional design/manufacturing firms screaming that their sales are falling due to rampant production of unlicensed/open sourced (reverse-engineered) “stuff”. Something comparable to “pirated” IPhone 3GS being for sale at your local flea market (and online equivilents) for 1/4th the price Apple charges for it, and you watch them print it (electronics, antennae, screen and all) while you wait.
Do you want yours printed in aluminum, titanium or Biodegradable Plastic?
Imagine the panic of investment banks, interested parties & governments around the world. The old system isn’t protecting our property! It’s all because of this rapid prototyping technology some idiot made cheap and pervasive – Now anybody can make whatever they want, or more importantly steal something you paid/worked/licensed to develop without giving you a dime for your trouble. We’ll be ruined. Something must be done.
There are two broad ways this can dealt with: Prohibition or Renaissance
If we wait, the knee-jerk reaction will be Prohibition – IP Laws will pretty much stay the same, while a new government agency will be introduced to regulate “@home manufacturing businesses”. It will probably take the form of a licensing scheme, where in order to own & operate a “@home manufacturing unit” you need to take a class on intellectual property, pay some fees for a license from the government, and put your identification number on every item that comes out, making your machine and thus you responsible for it.
The Good News: It probably guarantees some minimum level of proficiency operating the machinery if there is a class associated with the licensing requirement. If a product is pirated, defective or fraudulent it’s easy to find out who to punish.
The Bad News: By requiring a license, they’ll make the majority of hobbyists and tinkerers into outlaws and black-market participants by default. For those who do participate in the licensing scheme, they will have the advantage of fewer competitors, but since every product produced can always be tied back to their machine it introduces a whole slew of liability issues that haven’t even been considered yet.
When it comes to piracy, the assumption is every act is intentional – But how many ideas are there? How many designs? Additive Manufaturing makes the entire design process “Think it up, design or scan it, create it on-site” so where does the “research to make sure you’re not conflicting with anyone elses existing intellectual property” step come into play, before or after you hit the print button? Additive manufacturing is so important because it shrinks the minimum viable market size to one consumer. Is it the @home manufacturers responsibility to research every single design they are asked to print? Probably.
IP liability insurance will be mandatory, inadvertent violations frequent and payouts punitive in the stated hopes of discouraging similar behavior. But you can’t discourage creation once the potential of the tools are realized. It’ll be easy to get one of these self-replicating machines, but expensive to get a license. And so the blackmarket will flourish with the inevitable criminality that accompanies. The costs of prohibition are already stacking up, and we won’t even address enforcement here, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
1 910 State of the Art
A Collaborative Renaissance: Everything Old is New Again
Patents exist for a reason, innovation is not free or even cheap. But who says the way we’re doing it now works very well at all? Large producing firms defensively acquire patents as leverage in the event they are sued by a competitor, so-called “patent trolls” buy patents like lottery tickets while wielding the letter of the law as a thief would a gun; extorting value they did not earn while leaving their victims shaken and thankful more was not taken from them. The individual inventor is in there somewhere, but with the process to patent a single idea requiring multiple years and thousands of dollars (not including legal costs), what average individual has the time to create ideas and protect them all using only his own resources? Not many.
Lincoln said “The Patent System added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”, and it did. But over the intervening decades the creosote of bureaucracy and abuse has slowly choked what was once a vital part of American free market innovation. I propose we take it back.
The Industrial Revolution Seemed Like a Good Idea At The Time.
Manufacturing has major expenses associated in the creation of even trivial objects – The mantra of “we’ll make it up in volume” leads to a zero sum way of thinking where your costs are fixed at a minimum floor, but you have to compete with all other manufacturers in your space for the profit that remains. This is the nature of mass manufacturing everything, and the culture it cultivates is one of technological stagnation and secrecy.
On the complete other end of the spectrum you’ve got a place like Thingiverse where nearly every design is available for free and is open source – You can take anything that anybody else has made, change it a little bit, improve it, make it easier to assemble, mash it up with something you or someone else created, and then put it back out there for others to become inspired by your work and do the same. Each Thing has a page, and each page proudly displays the lineage of past Things it was derived from or based off of. The only thing missing here is the value proposition – Some people use it to promote their other proprietary works for sale elsewhere, but mostly it is people collaborating to advance what is possible with the new manufacturing & design reality.
The coming challenge is to take this virtuous, self-reinforcing cycle of innovation leading to more innovation, and transpose it onto for-profit IP.
New Uses for Old Technology abound
Perpetual, Fractional Payments – A thousand bites at the Apple
If you have a great, profitable idea and you patent it under the current system – That’s great! But how do you make money with it? You could sell it (if someone wants to buy it, ideas are cheap) If you want to bring it to market yourself, you’ll have to find a manufacturer, financing, packaging, marketing, distribution, and on and on. Most patents are improvements to existing products, so what happens if someone improves your patented idea and patents it themselves? Not only is your old system obsolete, but if you want to upgrade to the newly developed “state of the art” there are very expensive licensing fees or redudant development costs while you re-invent their re-invention of your technology. Talk about wasting time and effort.
Instead, why not take advantage of the advantage of our digital world – Combine the concept of Thingiverse’s collaboration & attribution with free value transfer services like Bitcoin with Ricardian contracts sprinkled in there to automate the whole thing. This combination of attributes can uniquely eliminate the involvement of what some refer to as “the parasite class”.
The trick is to design the system in such a way so you can have a single object purchased provide value to everyone along the path of its creation. Initially these relationships will be simple but as the virtuous cycle kicks in things get complicated. There would be a small submission fee to make sure people bring in designs that are at least a little thought through, say $10. If someone wants to examine your design in detail, it might cost $.50, if they want to print it, or modify it: $1. Prices need to be low to encourage experimentation with existing designs. In that $1 for a use license, at least 50% should always go to the current creator with payments scaling down to earlier creators, but never ceasing to exist entirely. With Bitcoin and a project called OpenTransactions, you can transfer values as low as .00000001 bitcoin instantly to anyone else with no transaction fees, automatically, with execution based on the fulfilment of pre-determined conditions.
Put simply, if I invent a innovative new doorstopper and upload it to this service, and then you came along and wanted to print it, you would take the other side of that contract and in exchange for $1 sent to an automatically generated bitcoin address, you would be sent the file and granted a license to print or modify under the condition that you make any improvements available under the same type of licensing conditions.
As the content creator, I only make and sign this contract once and then just put it out there for as many people to take me up on it as like my product. This remains just as true if my doorstopper is the 5th generation of novel improvement on that doorstopper, except there the $1 once sent to the generated bitcoin address would be split up and distributed to all the contributors based on some algorithm.
For-Profit Open Source – Innovation with Compensation
Instead of focusing your time and energy on protecting your ideas and technology, it is suddenly in your best interest to make sure as many people see your innovation as possible, and if someone wants to improve it that’s great! Not only do you have a monetary interest, but you can cheaply use their improved version and then build your own improvements on top.
For manufacturing, this means instead of having a contract with a content owner to create 100,000 of their product every 6 months they could become “local manufacturing centers” that can make anything with designs acquirable through this system, paying $1 for each time they print a design, and charging the customer the difference between what the licensing + material cost are and the prevailing market rate. For an additional premium, customers could work with your designer to customize the product to their tastes.
A Room with a Large Capacity for Highly Personalized Manufacturing.
For the creator, everything you build goes into the library and if you tag your part correctly it will come up over and over as future innovators look for components to derive from, or consumers choose they want your product created at a hub. This gives you control over what requires your time – Your designs all have long tails, so you can stay focused on improving new ideas rather than on protecting the ones you’ve already created.
This is a big idea, please tell me where I’m wrong and explain to me the things I just don’t understand. Until then, I think this could be a better way for a more productive and open future, as it would quickly create a library of quality, constantly improving designs that could be cheaply licensed, and thus competitively manufactured in all localities while still providing value to the brains behind the design.
What a time to be alive.
The blog I need help with is mindtomatter.org.
What my account currently says in big red letters:
This blog has been deactivated because we believe it does not comply with the WordPress.com Terms of Service or advertising policy.
If your blog is designed to promote affiliate links, get rich quick programs, banner ads, consists solely or mostly of duplicate or automatically generated material, or is part of a search engine marketing campaign, WordPress.com is not the place for you. Please use the Export feature to move your content to a more appropriate hosting service.
Occasionally we make mistakes. If you believe we have misclassified your blog, please click here to contact us as soon as possible so we can fix the problem.
What do you expect the volunteers in the forum to do about it?
I expect someone to tell an admin so they’ll fix it. I assume WordPress has employees, but then I also thought that I was in control of my content so what do I know.
It’s your job to tell the staff, via the contact link they left on your dashboard. Until you do that, nothing will happen.
This is not a matter for posting to a public forum. We Volunteers answering support questions have no role to play in this process. This is between you and Staff. You have a warning notice with a link in it — please click that link as it works at all times (even when the regular contact form is closed).
If you have already contacted Staff by using the “click here to contact us” link in the notice, the ToS department definitely received your request. Please be patient as they’ll be getting back to you as soon as they can.
As a policy, we are all asked to refrain from discussing ToS issues on the public forums.
And I did contact them, hours ago. So imagine my frustration at not hearing anything and knowing that I likely won’t, with my blog displaying this to any who try to visit.
mindtomatterdotorg.wordpress.com is no longer available.
This blog has been archived or suspended for a violation of our Terms of Service.
For questions or concerns, contact WordPress.com Support.
That’s a bunch of bullshit, and it makes it look like I’ve done something wrong. If WordPress is going to use an automated system to take down their paying customers content, it’s their responsibility to be highly responsive when they make errors. I have my real life identity associated with this blog and this disruption is anything but professional. If I wasn’t paying for the service it would be another matter, but this is unacceptable. The only question is how long until my blog is quietly re-enabled with no comment from anyone. Hooray for me.
How is posting to this forum working for you?
it’s letting others see my frustrating experiance with WordPress’s automated spam system that removes entire blogs on some algorithm that clearly does not do a very good job of determining what is or isn’t spam. Hopefully this will inspire WordPress to utilize a system that is less disruptive and upsetting to their PAYING CUSTOMERS.
And of course, the more I squawk about this the more likely someone at wordpress will actually bother to fix their mistake.
Thats reason enough for me. I went with WordPress because I didn’t want to have to worry about hosting, imagine my chagrin.
Actually the staff that support the forum are not the Terms of Service group – so frothing does not much good at all – like the note above – you need to work with the TOS people not the open forum.
How is posting to this forum working for you?
It is keeping him busy from causing trouble on the streets!! We don’t want him to do that do we? He is really frustrated and he needs to calm down and then see what happens in about 24 hours or so.
Well I have no way to directly contact the TOS group, I could find no phone numbers or even any direct email addresses for anyone of value within the wordpress organization, so I’ve been sending off messages into the oblivion of “support” – So far one automated response and nothing else. If they’re going to automate the system to remove whole blogs for some perceived violation with no warnings, they really ought to be a little responsive to their screw-ups. I’m an innocent victim here, and since my real name is associated with this account I am being flat out slandered by this take-down.
WordPress ought to fix it, and as soon as they decide it’s worth their time to take a look it will be fixed. How long that will take is anyone’s guess, clearly it’s not a priority.
The link in the message in your dashboard sends your message directly to the TOS department. They will get back to you as soon as they can.
The flagging and removal are not automated.
He has a point.
I’d be furious.
unless it’s a plagary, it’s a fine post
Only staff can say why they suspended the site, and it might have absolutely nothing to do with that post.
If they used the link in the message to contact staff, staff will get back to them.
I’ve been suspended twice. Went through the procedure, contested it, got unsuspended. It’s not that difficult if you have a good case.
No reason to continue posting again and again about this issue: we are volunteers in these forums and have no authority to determine whether or not a blog is or is not violating TOS…
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