From The Regulatory Review:

First Amendment questions about restricting schematics for 3D-printed guns can be avoided by using copyright law, R Street Institute’s Charles Duan argues in Lawfare. Because the plastic gun digital schematic receives a copyright, he posits that the government could take ownership of that copyright under the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause, which allows the government to exercise its sovereign right to acquire private property for the public interest. Duan outlines a scheme where the government, or a nonprofit organization to which the government transfers the copyright, could then sue the creator of the 3D-printer gun schematics to prevent them from distributing their own design. “Whether or not the government can stop distribution of the schematic directly, it likely can do so using copyright without violating the First Amendment,” he claims. Duan cautions against this approach, however, acknowledging a government could turn copyright into a “general-purpose censorship tool.”

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