Shapeways has long been a haven for independent artists who wanted to market their work without investing thousands of dollars into their own high-end 3D printing machines. Artist Joaquin Baldwin is one such entrepreneur, combining his love of 3D printing with his admiration for the Final Fantasy Series. He designed twenty six different figures depicting each of his favorite FF characters. The fan response was immediate and his business started to take off. Baldwin garnered a couple of write ups on web sites and developed a die-hard group of fans on Reddit. Things were looking up – until Square Enix got wind of Baldwin's designs and laid down the law. Copyright law, that is.
Baldwin's Final Fantasy character sets had been online a little over a month when Square Enix sent an official takedown notice to Shapeways. In response, Shapeways immediately stopped selling the figures and removed them from Baldwin's account. "All orders that haven't been printed will be refunded, and I can't print any of them anymore," Baldwin said. "[It was] standard procedure. Just like a video in YouTube using copyrighted music can be pulled down. I only made that whole set recently, and I posted the full new set of secondary characters two days ago, when I guess I exploded the Internet. I didn't expect it to go so wildly viral."
Baldwin may be taking the demise of his creations in stride, but for those of us who wanted to have their own 3D printed Chocobo, this is a dark day indeed.