Lets face it copyright, especially internationally, is a mess. So let us scope this so that anybody can answer about any region, but only one region per answer. Also let us keep the discussion in goods that clearly at some point lost the copyright, because prints and artworks really do not lose the copyright.

So how exactly do i know where the borders of copyright are. Generally, physical goods, like a chair or fashion has no copyright*. But then computer programs have a copyright. This is where it gets really wild.

Modern physical goods exist as digital models before they exist as reality, this model just like any other program created by human. Does the model enjoy copyright? Does the 2D drawing that is made form this model enjoy copyright? Does the CNC control code that produces the model (it is computer generated) enjoy copyright? The resulting object does not enjoy copyright!

At what point did it lose the copyright. If i scan the product and recreate a model. Did i strip copyright? If instead of scanning i read the position of the print nozzle or mill head to create a new toolpath?

Simply how does one know where the copyright ends. Because clearly for the chair to not have copyright protection it must end somewhere.

* Although they can have if they are deemed art. The question becomes easy if the object has copyright through its entire life. But not all things are like that, i am not interested in objects of this kind.

  • Copyright protects creative works by a human author fixed in a tangible form. The specific form is not important (paper, stone tablets, electronic media, ...); the authorship and creative aspects do. For sculptures permanently displayed in a public area, there may be special considerations, so if your question is about those please clarify.
    – Brandin
    Apr 19, 2018 at 10:50
  • @Brandin but the works in question are electronic media just up until the point that they turn into physical goods.
    – joojaa
    Apr 19, 2018 at 10:55
  • Copyright protection does not generally extend to the output of computer programs. For example, Microsoft Word is copyrighted by Microsoft. If I author a poem using that software and press "print," it does not mean that Microsoft's copyright extended to my printed poem. Similarly, the printer I used includes copyrighted software and perhaps copyrighted typefaces. It does not mean that those copyrights gets "injected" into my poem.
    – Brandin
    Apr 19, 2018 at 11:01
  • @Brandin yes but then I lost the protection for my design aswell as its trivial to recreate my design form the final product (no human interventiopn needed). So now that means that ive lost the case to say that it is a derivate work? How do i know if they used my copyrightable file or not?
    – joojaa
    Apr 19, 2018 at 11:07

1 Answer 1


You're already mistaken with the assumption that chairs don't fall under copyright. Rietveld's famous chair comes to mind.

Derived works generally fall under copyright as well. If the derivation is itself a creative process (e.g. human translation), this may create additional copyrights. Automated transforms like your CNC example do not add such additional copyrights.

You can't defeat copyright by employing a specific technology because copyright is a legal concept, not a technical concept.

  • Works of art have copyright but normal chairs do not, what constitutes a work of art is out of scope of the question. My point is that even things that dont fall under copyright hve copyright if they are a computer program. But i will clarify, to something definitive like Fashion
    – joojaa
    Apr 19, 2018 at 9:53
  • Also i am not rying to defeat copyright just strying to understand what happens in teh gray corners of copyright. Because things that i make have no copyright.
    – joojaa
    Apr 19, 2018 at 10:03
  • @joojaa: Well, fashion is another area that's well known to be covered by copyright. A classical grey area is perfume. It's literally too ephemeral.
    – MSalters
    Apr 19, 2018 at 10:31
  • perhaps you shoudl include in your post what locale you are representing your answer because atlest this wikipedia article says that shoes and clothing are not copyighted in US fir example. Which is why designs often have the trademark plastered all oever it. But really my question is that if the program to create a shoe has copyright but the physical shoe does not how exactly do i lose the right. Or didn't i have it in the first place (how would that work).
    – joojaa
    Apr 19, 2018 at 10:37
  • 1
    @joojaa: Well, as the article notes, they're not protected per se. Same as chairs aren't protected per se.
    – MSalters
    Apr 19, 2018 at 10:41

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