"You wouldn't download a car" - Piracy and 3D printers
Does anyone feel that within the foreseeable future we'll ever get to the stage where a manufacturer of physical goods is suing people for piracy (or IP infringement, or whatever name they give it next Tuesday)?
It seems plausible to me that just as copying data has become easier over the years, 3D printing will probably become more common and cheaper to access, and cheaper to produce and end product with. Comparing this with devices capable of putting data on a optical disc, at first you could only get a disc at a pressing plant, then burner drives came along and were initially super-expensive, and as time and tech progress and refined the design they became cheaper and more common, up to the point where it's probably impossible to get a computer without one (in fact, you're probably more likely to get a bare bones computer without an optical drive at all than a ROM drive).
Right now, if I wanted to make a replica car I could measure up an original and fabricate my own, and I don't think anyone would care because the effort and resources to do it make it infeasible to do in quantity. What happens when you scale this up, when you can take the design to a local 3D printer shop, or your own personal 3D printer. Does Ford now become a small design company in one or two offices and not the large company that handles everything from design to servicing the end product?
How do you copy protect a physical object (PRM, Physical Rights Management?)? I can't help thinking of the humongous trade in bootleg knock-off items and how they'll never stop that. What do companies do when potentially all the items in someone's house could be copies? I'd argue that most items in most people's houses are copies anyway, but 'official' copies, but then we come back to what's stopping someone now making their own items.
This kind of thing isn't exactly new in science or science-fiction.