In the digital age, regulating the infinite possibilities of the internet is seen as a limitation on the boundless freedom that it provides. However, as the use and influence of digital technology has grown, concerns have risen about security and the concentration of power in a few companies.

One area where this has been particularly evident is in the field of art and creativity, where the ability to reproduce works digitally has led to a rise in illegal reproduction and potential harm to companies, employment, and markets. Governments have taken a few steps to protect digital intellectual property rights, but it is not enough. 

One example of a private company addressing these issues is Spotify, a music streaming service that offers legal and accessible music without the need for payment. Spotify’s founders, Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, saw it as a moral duty to combat illegal music services and respect the efforts of the music industry. Spotify’s business model, in which they pay royalties for each streamed track, has been successful and beneficial for all parties involved.

Spotify offers a unique business model that stands in contrast to piracy. The company’s “pay per stream” method ensures that whenever a track is listened to on the platform, royalties are paid to license holders such as record labels, artists, publishers and aggregators. This results in a high frequency of small transactions. Since its launch in 2008, it is estimated that Spotify has paid over $5 billion in copyright fees. The company currently has over 170 million monthly active users and 75 million subscribers. This business model creates a win-win situation for all parties involved. Major record labels earn from licensing, users can listen to music legally at an affordable price, artists are recognized and rewarded for their work, and Spotify profits from a legal model. Spotify serves as an example of how a change in perspective can lead to great results.

Meanwhile, in the same years that Spotify was gaining traction, the European Community began to address issues related to copyright protection in order to curb the spread of illegal forms of access and commercial exploitation of digital content. The first Directive was the 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of April 29, 2004 on respect for intellectual property rights.

However, with regards to the challenges posed by 3D printing for the intellectual property sector, there is currently no coherent legal framework in place. This highlights the difficulty legislators have had in enforcing property rights for digital works of art.

It is worth asking why the music market has been able to find a legal solution for the exploitation of rights on the internet, while legislators struggle to protect the artistic heritage produced by previous generations for future use. It is concerning to see how much effort and resources the state dedicates to the conservation of works of art for tourism, yet how little it concerns itself with the ability of these works to generate an economy through modern web applications.

the original masterpiece: the Centuripe bust of Caesar Augustus

We purpose-built artficial – a patented platform to protect the artistic works of creators past, present, and future – to manage the digital rights for 3D printed objects – the artclone.

Artficial is the world’s first rights-based technological platform for the digitization, distribution, and archival of the cultural heritage of humanity – specifically sculptural works of art – and their production in artclones with high-quality 3D printing technologies. 

Here’s how the artficial platform works:

  1. The artistic work is scanned and the “digital clone” is stored in a secure ARTvault
  2. The digital clone is printed using a 3D printer as an artclone
  3. The artclone revenues are shared between the platform and the owner of the work (an individual or an institution)

This is not complicated. We simply need our legislators to understand the issues and to pass legislation to protect heritage and original works from piracy – the illegal printing and production of unlicensed work.

Barbara Dal Corso works at the intersection of art and technology. She is the co-founder of ARTficial, the maker of the world’s first officially-licensed artclones.