Future of Work

Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed, thinks a more commercial approach can get around a judge’s ruling to halt the free distribution of 3-D-printable gun designs.

The background: Wilson has been fighting legal battles since 2013 to be able to share designs that help people print or manufacture firearms at home. He claims his right to free speech should allow him to share the files.

Earlier this week … A federal judge extended an injunction that prevents Wilson from freely sharing the models online until a court case brought by 19 states and the District of Columbia can be resolved.

The news: That isn’t stopping Wilson. He has chosen to interpret the ruling as preventing him from giving the digital models away for free. To get around the limitation, he is selling flash drives containing the same information using a name-your-own-price model. According to Defense Distributed, there have been “a few hundred” transactions so far. “Anyone who wants these files is going to get them. I’m gonna sell it to them, I’m gonna ship them. That began this morning,” Wilson said to CNN. “That will never be interrupted. The free exchange of these ideas will never be interrupted.”

What’s next: Individual platforms like Facebook and Amazon are also choosing to apply their own limitations on the sharing of gun plans through their sites, so customers won’t be able to buy or share the plans on either of those sites. Wilson says he plans to look into e-mail and secure download link options for distributing the models to move beyond flash drives. He will also be appealing the judge’s ruling.