AUSTIN, Tex.—In a surprising announcement, Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson announced Tuesday that while he would continue to comply with a federal court order forbidding him from internationally publishing CAD files of firearms, he would also begin selling copies of his 3D-printed gun files for a “suggested price” of $10 each.
The files, crucially, will be transmitted to customers “on a DD-branded flash drive” in the United States and won’t be available as downloads.
Previously, he had given them away for free, globally.
“I’m happy to become the iTunes of 3D guns if I can’t be Napster,” he said, adding that anyone can submit a file to sell on his platform, where they will receive 50 percent of the sales proceeds.
“Today I want to clarify, anyone who wants these files will get them—I’ll sell them, I’ll ship them,” he continued. “The free exchange of these ideas will never be interrupted, I’m also inviting the public to share their own files and share the profit with me.”
As Ars has reported, Defense Distributed is a Texas-based company involved in a years-long lawsuit with the Department of State over publication of those files and making them available to foreigners. The company runs DEFCAD, perhaps the best-known online repository of gun files.
After a surprising June 2018 settlement with the Department of Justice appeared to end that five-year legal battle with the government, DEFCAD reposted the files on July 27, a few days earlier than the company had initially said it would restore them.
With the settlement, the federal government essentially agreed to modify the relevant export laws. Defense Distributed would be allowed to publish, the DOJ would pay $40,000 of DD’s legal fees, and the case would be over. The Second Amendment Foundation announced the settlement on July 10.
Earlier this month, a group of states, led by Washington, sued the Department of State, claiming that allowing the files to be made available violated a federal administrative law.
That settlement was then overturned in a ruling by a Seattle judge, US District Judge Robert Lasnik, on Monday, who ordered that the files must stay offline in order to comply with American export law.
By selling them only to people in the United States, Wilson is still complying with the judge’s order.
“That’s the easiest thing for us to do, the legal thing for us to do, that’s always been our mission as a company,” he said. “You have a right to have these things, we have a right to give them.”
A press representative for Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.
Wilson, who remained seated at a table for the duration of the press conference, said in a matter-of-fact tone that he’s been successfully fundraising off of the efforts to shut him down. He’s already raised $200,000 in recent days.
“The judges yesterday, besides being hysterical and all that, did not suspend but wanted to unauthorize,” he said.
“Many attorneys have been saying we’ve stopped, no one can print a gun at home, this is the stuff i had to read yesterday. But of course you can download this stuff, all this press coverage ensured it’ll be online forever. So the point I’m going to make, this order stopping us from giving us away prevented us from selling, emailing, et cetera—I will be doing all those things, my congrats to the AG for saving America. A lot of this to me is principle, for many years I choose not to sell these files, I’m an open source activist. I believed in demonstrating there’s a right to put this in the public domain.”
When a reporter asked why the Seattle judge’s order was “hysterical,” Wilson noted that Judge Lasnik seemingly did not understand that the files are already out there.
“He accepts the plaintiff’s article that the world would end if he didn’t act,” Wilson added. “But this already happened, we’ve lived in a world where you can download these files from anywhere. His description ‘some cybernaut can find these in the dark recesses in the Internet,’—they’re discoverable within 30 seconds of googling.”
Wilson vowed to appeal the Seattle ruling at the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
“You can read our briefs to see our arguments, and we’re confined to those in the appeals court—pretty standard stuff—First Amendment, Second Amendment,” he said. “It’s pretty easy stuff to understand if you’re a federal judge, though maybe not.”