3D Guns Q&AASSOCIATED PRESS
The future of 3-D printed gun files is now being deliberated by a judge in the state of Washington.
At stake is whether or not Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson will be able to republish computer files that would let users print a plastic gun called The Liberator that fires real bullets.
But as the judge deliberates on a hearing that concluded Tuesday, some old fashioned technology — a book — is already for sale with the code on a website run by one of the largest companies in the world.
“You can go to Amazon,” Wilson told Forbes. “The Liberator code is in a book in a couple different formats.”
“The Liberator Code Book: An Exercise in the Freedom of Speech” has been available for $20 since August 1, 2018, the day after a temporary injunction filed by multiple U.S. states prevented Wilson from releasing the files on his own website. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to “fight for free speech and the right to keep and bear arms,” according to the webpage.
Little is known about the book’s listed author C J Awelow, other than a description of his or her intentions for the book posted on the Amazon website.
“The purpose of this exercise is to give a physical analogy between computer code and books. Code is speech. This is a printed copy of .step files for the Liberator, and not much else. Don’t expect a gripping narrative; that’s being played out in the news and the courts.”
The book is also being promoted by an Amazon tool for sellers and authors designed to increase product awareness and sales. “You pay for the prizes and we market your giveaway to customers who are interested in products like yours,” according to the Amazon promotion.
So far, the book has been rated seven times by “verified purchasers,” and includes statements that sound more like rallying cries than reviews.
“You can’t ban the code without banning the book,” wrote one reviewer.
“It doesn’t really matter which side you fall on when it comes to guns,” wrote another reviewer. “The fact that this book exists forces you to think about how far are we willing to go with gun control as it strays into suppression of free speech.”
Given the fact that Amazon Web Services reportedly stopped hosting a website that carried the gun files earlier this month, it seems unlikely Amazon, now valued at $915 billion, knows of the posting. However, another book for sale on Amazon for $3,214.79 further elaborates the free speech question the gun file book is designed to highlight.
Called “PGP: Source Code and Internals,” the book was published in June 1995, at a time when the U.S. State Department considered the software version of its contents to be munitions-grade information, prohibited from export. By demonstrating the free-speech component of the computer files, publication of the book actually played a part in changing the law on exporting encryption software, and helped lay the foundation for modern email use of the technology.
However, in an interview with Forbes, the book’s author and inventor of PGP email encryption, Phil Zimmermann, differentiated his own computer files, which encrypted emails, from Wilson’s 3-D printed gun files.
“PGP is not like guns,” he said. “Encryption is purely defensive,’ more like body armor, whereas guns are designed to kill people.” However, when asked if people should be able to publish gun blueprints, Zimmerman paused, then concluded, “I think yes.”
We reached out to Amazon for comment and will keep you posted as we learn more.
More Info: www.forbes.com