Katy Perry 'Left Shark' model removed at lawyers' request

By Dave Lee
Technology reporter, BBC News

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionKaty Perry's Superbowl appearance included these two sharks - the one on the left missed a few steps

A website has been ordered to remove a design for a 3D-printed model of the "Left Shark" dancer from the Super Bowl half-time show.

Lawyers for singer Katy Perry contacted Fernando Sosa, who had sold the design via an online directory of blueprints.

Left Shark became a viral hit after appearing to forget its steps during a routine with the 30-year-old artist.

3D-printing is becoming an increasing headache for companies trying to protect their intellectual property.

Falling costs of 3D printers, coupled with a growing community of model designers, means many small products can be made to a relatively high quality.

In a letter, the lawyers said Perry had not consented to the use of the shark, which was being sold through Shapeways.com.

image copyrightFernando Sosa
image captionFernando Sosa's model of Left Shark, which attracted the attention of Katy Perry's lawyers

"Your unauthorised display and sale of this product infringes our client's exclusive rights," read the letter, posted on Instagram by Mr Sosa.

Mr Sosa was selling the design for $24.99 (£16). After the item was removed by Shapeways, Mr Sosa submitted the design to a different site, Thingiverse, and offered it free-of-charge.

Facilitating demand

On the site, Mr Sosa wrote: "Apparently sharks, palm trees and beach balls are all now copyrighted... anyways I'm making this available to everyone.

"Now you can 3D print your very own Left Shark. Just make sure you download this file ASAP since just in case it's taken down."

Intellectual property lawyer Dai Davis told the BBC he expects disputes like this to become more common, and that industry must adapt to facilitate demand.

"In the same way copyright is difficult to protect in music because of the way the internet has allowed piracy sites, in the same way you already have lots of sites popping up which will increasingly allow unlawful copies of design rights [for objects]."

He suggested that companies would perhaps be wiser to offer their own official 3D-printed designs, rather than putting effort into removing designs by others.

The man inside one the shark costumes, professional dancer Scott Myrick, said of the performance: "The visibility was terrible. I ran into a palm tree but the camera missed it."

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC

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