In my last year of undergrad I took PS 545: American Political Thought. The final paper in that class dealt with copyright and the future implications of technology that blurs the line between physical and intellectual property in regard to copyright and the economy. Exciting, I know.
The paper focused predominately on technologies like 3D printers and how they would change certain aspects of we purchase things. One hypothetical I wanted to shoehorn in was the potential impact on hobbies, like tabletop wargaming. At the time I was envisioning a situation where most people who participate in the tabletop community had purchased, or gotten access to a 3D printer, and had started swapping designs for custom models, or even clones of the actual retail figures, which they could then print for much less than the often excessive price. I didn’t include the example because at the time the tech just wasn’t “out there” enough, and there were no handy real world indications that it would happen. Until right now.
A fan of the Warhammer (40K) tabletop game has uploaded their design for one of the more expensive game pieces. Now anyone with access to a 3D printer, or industrious enough to upload the design to some service site like Shapeways, can buy it for ~$5 in materials. This may not seem like a big deal, but when I said more expensive before, I meant that the model normally cost ~$50.
I’m not going to speculate on the actual significance of this, it’s just one small instance. But is interesting to think about the posible meaning this holds for that particular industry.