Printables V. Thingiverse

I’ve said it before, I’m a @printablescom fanboy and have never uploaded a model to another site. I just like what I think is genuine enthusiasm from the P team.

I have therefore not experienced the “troubles” with thingiverse that are so well publicised, and have no concerns about my models disappearing from there.

This morning (my time) if I heard correctly and I’ve time stamped the link below for you to check my hearing - on “Prusa Live”, Joseph Prusa said they keep a “whole” backup of thingiverse, “just in case somebody pulls the plug, and you can verify the models are yours you can have them on Printables”.

You can see from his body language that he’s pretty pleased with how printables is going, and deadly serious about preserving peoples models even though they are on another platform.

They are treading lightly because of the ethics of this, and have been quite outspoken with the creality site’s blatant copying. Please discuss!

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If they want to scrape thingi, I don’t see a problem.

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It’s actions like this that I stopped being a Google fanboy. a while back, google started scanning every book ever and by default you had to claim works, only they didnt advertise they were doing that until their hand was caught in the cookie jar.

Long story short, it’s blatant theft. If I wanted my models on Prusa’s site, I’ll put them there. Prusa is a hack, and I don’t see value in anything he does.

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How is it theft? They’ve said they will only upload them if you can prove ownership of the design, and presumably you’d have to request it? It’s not compulsory, neither is it an offer that’s open to anyone until (and if) thingi goes down for the last time.

Your models will not go on Prusa’s site unless you have put them there yourself, if you want to lose your stuff on TV, that’s your choice entirely.

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Because there’s no reason for them to do it in the first place. I don’t know about other people, but I backup my stuff. I have a printables account, but only becuase there was something I found on Thangs that I wanted to download and had to signup for an account. The huberus that “his” beta platform is going to save the anyone is ludicris, as I’d just goto myminifactory or Thangs itself. There are also other platforms that I post on that are more or less occupational specific. I only post to Thingiverse because at the time it was the biggest game in town, and to a large extent it still is. I don’t know where he thinks it’s going, but I doubt it’s going to disappear anytime soon.

Simply put, it’s ok to take a penny from the penny tray because you need it; but not the whole tray and the register, and say you can have it back if you can prove it’s yours.

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Well, all of the stuff that I put on TV I put up saying basically “Download if you want.” I’m pretty sure that if you didn’t want just anyone downloading your stuff you wouldn’t put it on the Internet.

So if Printables wants to download it “just in case” I’m 100% OK with that.

I’ve stopped uploading to TV because I’ve had trouble with the site too often. I despise how long it takes for models to update after editing, and that I never know if I’m seeing the same pictures and files that anyone else is seeing.

I’ll give printables it’s shot. So far at least it the admin cares enough to throw decent hosting at it. This is entirely separate from what I might think about Prusa or anyone else.


You’re totally right that it is at least in a gray area of morality and licensing. But I think you may have misinterpreted what he said (or I did).

What I heard him say is that they downloaded the publicly available models, and are storing them privately (presumably, along with their correct licenses). The reason they chose to do that was to allow users (after some kind of authentication) to convert their models and publish to printables.

So, from my understanding:

  1. They only downloaded data that was publicly available through the api/http interface of Thingiverse.
  2. They are not editing, or republishing the files on printables.
  3. They believe this will have a benefit to users (and themselves no doubt) if Thingiverse just crashes or gets shut down.
  4. They will not republish any of the files on printables unless the users decides to, and authenticates somehow. (You have to trust them on that.)

Printables has had an import from TV feature for a long time. I used it and imported everything over. Nothing got published publicly until I reviewed and republished it. It was honestly pretty slick.

I have had a ton of performance issues with TV in the past. It is just sometimes down, or work is lost, etc. I would not be surprised if the idea of this came about because the prusa site was also having trouble grabbing data “on demand” when customers asked to import TV models. A good hack (from a technical perspective) is to just have a computer work overnight to copy every file in TV and then have printables query the backup instead of the main TV site.

It would have been better if they could have gotten users to approve that backup. But that’s not practical.

There are many sites, like Pinterest (don’t get me started) that apply “fair use” pretty liberally and get away with a lot of regurgitation of truly copyrighted internet content. So my non-expert opinion is that even things with restricted licenses can be copied that way, legally.

Most of the files on TV are creative Commons of some kind too. So many of them are already explicitly saying they can be reused, edited, and many can be used commercially. The only ones that they might be violating are the ones that are non-commercial, but I go back to the Pinterest argument.

As for my personal feelings about my models. I am a bit glad they are doing it. Because TV is so unusable and irrational. I don’t make good backups and it is convenient for me to have a way to recover something if I lost it.

But I think everyone should play by the same rules. I don’t want some Pinterest like site to aggregate my work. And prusa may be polite, fun, and doing Good. But that is a luxury for profitable companies. When they can’t pay their bills anymore, we want the rules to keep them in line.

So I would rather none of it be allowed. But also, that is just how the rules currently work (in my non-expert opinion).


Reading your comments it is obvious that you are not thinking about the great lengths business have to go to protect themselves from getting served a lawsuit.

As a business that hosts models with licensing restrictions they are being smart by keeping a backup of TV. They need to be able to identify stolen models that are protected by a license. Let me say that again. As a business they are obligated to make sure people are not using their platform to post stolen Intellectual Property. So yeah. What if TV disappeared one day? How would Prusa know what is IP belongs to who? This backup of TV has NOTHING to do with stealing IP it has everything to do with protecting Printables from aiding others in theft.

I have helped businesses do stupid things for similar reasons. We kept backups of everything that could be helpful in a lawsuit. Competitors websites, brochures, marketing material, SDS (MSDS) you name it. All of it was “just in case” we needed to give it to our lawyers. To prove we didn’t steal anything from them or plagiarisms, copywriter, or trademarks. We had to keep a copy of everything with dates to prove we didn’t steal it. Stupid world we live in.


Nobody asked, but here’s a bird feeder if anyone needs one:


That is a nice bird feeder.

It would be a shame if somebody stole it.

Sorry I’m the slow one here, but what is the significance of the bird feeder?

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The way back machine and sites like it are already doing the same thing printables is doing…backing up everything online. So what they are doing is nothing that is not already being done by many sites, and some stl sites actually scrape and publish themselves.


Thanks for spelling it out. Master of the obvious now. It is a slow day.

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Well lots of places have been scraping thingiverse, there is one big example years ago that is on the tip of my tongue and just can’t think of it right now.

I really am not sure how I feel about it other than I expect anything I do to be saved somewhere. It is an ever present thought in my mind when working online. Think about all the cloud storage out there and it is available and the drop of a hacked password…Or all the messages you have ever posted, emails you have ever written. It is freaky as heck to think about but I kinda feel like it comes with the territory. There is a very public trial going on and they are sharing private text messages. Sucks but it is happening and has been.

I chalk this particular case up to a good use of resources, although kinda strange. Seems at some point the completely open designs will be shared again, why not they are open, and I feel like the creators would not mind. Maybe they are talking about it again to get a gauge if the overall opinion is positive so they can release the OS files now.

I have read that there are (or were) groups who were recording a ton of encrypted info from everywhere. It’s literally useless now (the encryption would take eons with the current computers). But the theory was that future computers (specifically the half sci-fi quantum computers) would someday be able to crack the encryption through brute force.

It turns out, it’s much easier to just buy a back door or plan in a vulnerability than to mess with quantum computers.

Pretty spooky though.



I’m indifferent.

If I posted it on the interwebs, it’s because I already expect everyone to see it or have access to it. Don’t really care what megaglomerant decides they want to download it.

Just understand that if TV goes away… all my designs go with it. I won’t bother taking the time to figure out which designs were backed up.

Sorry Ryan. If you like any of my MPCNC mods, go grab them now :smiley:

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I 100% agree with this. I’ve just been too lazy to move…LOL… I’m also trying to see who wins out as myminifactory is good, but no one is really on it (but I like it’s easy to monitize if that’s your bag) and Thangs is too new to tell. it definatly is a site, but their discovery is a bit lacking. Prusa will probably capture a lot, but Thangs has more to offer as it crawls the other sites and makes them actuall searchable as well as being a platform.

To go back to my Google analogy, they used to have the motto of “Don’t be Evil”, yet here we are today with no company motto and business practices that rival Microsoft at their worst. I see Prusa as the next Google, but they want to be Apple. either way, I don’t trust any of them. This kind of thing is a red flag, and I don’t know Joseph knows it or doesn’t care becase, as he says, he “…is the printer”.

That’s what a TOS is for. there’s a boilerplate in there stating that by submitting works, that said works are by the submitter or by an athorized rep of the content provider.

As long as they don’t curate things that aren’t illegal they’re protected by Section 230. By grabbing everything they are now legally coupable because they have said data and would be neglegent for not removing said content.

YouTube has to adhere to IP/Copyright laws too, but it’s up to the MPA and RIAA to provide the samples if they want proactive protection, not Google/YouTube.

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I think that’s the only thing that would save their bacon, since Google actually published the books they scanned and got slapped down hard for it.

But that’s opt-in, which I’m 100% for!

I post all my stuff as CC / NC / SSA, so i know my stuff is out there, but that’s part of the Honor system of it all. I probably wouldn’t have got into 3D Printing if TV wasn’t a thing, and I’m now getting the hang of it so I share alike.

My Thoughts exacly, 100% agree.