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This site may attract questions such as

  • Is it legal to sell 3D printed objects from a model repository?

  • Are 3D printed guns legal in my jurisdiction?

  • If my custom-built printer sets my house on fire, does the insurance cover it?

Are such questions allowed on this site, or should they be redirected to a site dealing more commonly with laws?

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  • $\begingroup$ This is a little bit of a pre-mature discussion (and even if the questions were on-topic), the questions are not the best quality. I made a tag wiki excerpt suggestion for the [legal] tag, so someone might want to check that out $\endgroup$ – Zizouz212 Jan 13 '16 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Zizouz212 From the 7 essential questions: "You should actively watch the earliest questions with an eye for quality and purpose. Ask yourself: "Is this the type of question we want on this site? Is it pushing the boundaries of on- and off-topic questions? Are we opening a can of worms?" Talk about these issues in meta, early and often. They are the key to establishing the boundaries around your site." $\endgroup$ – Tom van der Zanden Jan 13 '16 at 17:12
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Yes - in some cases.

First, overlap between sites is fine. It doesn't matter if a question is on topic somewhere else; that's no reason to eliminate it from a different site's scope. There were some issues when HSM sprang up, because Mathematics, Physics, and other sites allowed history-related questions. I participated in several meta discussions on these sites. While Physics eventually decided to not allow history questions, Mathematics and other sites continued to allow them. So we should not make our decision based on Law.

I do agree that, so far, the questions have not been great. But in the future, they could be. I wrote in a comment

I agree with @TomvanderZanden; a good case could be made for keeping this here. Laws and regulations can be a huge influence on an industry; the allowance or ban of certain products of said industry would seem to be relevant here. Remember, questions can be on-topic on multiple sites.

Regulatory measures can be extraordinarily important in a industry. If we had a site about making socks, should questions about whether or not is is legal to make socks with material X in the United States be off topic? I would argue no; this could be an important part of sock-making.

We have the same situation here. Some questions can be important; I would argue that questions regarding which materials and devices are legal should be ones we aim for. The legality of Filament A could be really important to a project.

That's not to say that all questions are fine. As has been said, some of the ones we've had so far haven't been great, and I would advocate sending them to Law. But I strongly disagree that just because of the examples we've seen we should not allow questions. There are good ones out there; we haven't seen their full extent yet.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes. This. We're deciding scope here, and not quality. If something is relevant, and is objectionably answerable, then let's allow it. $\endgroup$ – Zizouz212 Jan 13 '16 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Zizouz212 I don't think we should answer questions if there is an objection to answering them. $\endgroup$ – Tom van der Zanden Jan 13 '16 at 21:04
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I would go with NO, as that should be dealt by law experts from the Law SE, instead of 3D printing engineers and enthusiasts in this site.

Dealing with such questions in this site, would lead to the following problems, like wrong and unreliable advice.

So, such questions should be migrated to the Law site, IMO.

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    $\begingroup$ Migrating to Law doesn't guarantee the advice won't be wrong or unreliable either - any advice you get on the internet is bound to be unreliable. The people on this site understand 3D printing much better than law, and the Law people know law much better than 3D printing. The ideal advice would come from somebody with experience of both. In our case, I think our user base may have a lot of unique knowledge (some of our more experienced users may have consulted lawyers before, for instance when starting their own companies) regarding legal issues and 3D printing. $\endgroup$ – Tom van der Zanden Jan 13 '16 at 8:09
  • $\begingroup$ @TomvanderZanden But, when it deals with Law, I think it would be better to let the Law people handle it :) Users here might be good at 3D printing related law, but there are more than just 3D printing based law, like material selection, etc which are not here now, but might pop up later. So, IMHO those would be best dealt in the Law SE :) $\endgroup$ – Dawny33 Jan 13 '16 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ We most likely don't have a lot of folks who are well-acquainted with 3D-printing law. However, that doesn't mean that we can't recruit folks, or that we can't attract users from Law. Experts don't always restrict themselves to one site. . . :-) $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Jan 13 '16 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ @TomvanderZanden You can't migrate to law. I think questions about regulations concerning these are highly relevant. Honestly, just because something is on-topic on another site, doesn't mean it should be off-topic here. $\endgroup$ – Zizouz212 Jan 13 '16 at 17:16
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Yes, such questions should be on-topic. There can be partial overlap in sites' scopes, and unique legal issues involving 3D printing can be addressed here. Users of this site are more likely to have specific expertise than users on a site that deals with laws more generally.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't think we should allow this kind of questions, but in case we do we should add a disclaimer as it is currently in Law SE and Health SE. $\endgroup$ – A. A. Jan 13 '16 at 9:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Adolfo That's un-necessary. $\endgroup$ – Zizouz212 Jan 13 '16 at 13:16
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I would say that they are on topic because it seems more reasonable to look for questions about the legality of 3D printing on a 3D printing site than a law site.

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No, such questions should not be allowed. This site deals only with the practical issues of 3D printing. Questions about legal issues should be redirected to sites dealing specifically with those, since users of this site do not have the expertise to address legal issues. A 3D printing expert does not make a legal expert.

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    $\begingroup$ I downvoted this answer (while upvoting your answer showing the other viewpoint) in disagreement, because legal issues can be quite relevant to practical applications. If a given filament is not allowed in your country, for instance, your project may - or may not - be impacted. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Jan 13 '16 at 16:26

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