Spring Policy Updates

This post originally appeared on the Shapeways blog.

Spring is in the air, and that means that it is time for a few policy updates here at Shapeways.  This blog post serves as a summary of those changes.  As a reminder, if you want to go deeper you can always check out the archived versions of specific policies in order to compare them to the current one.

The biggest update is to the Shop Terms and Conditions.  These terms were last updated in 2012 and, as you can imagine, Shapeways has evolved significantly since then.  In addition to the Shop Terms update, this update includes much smaller fixes to the general Terms and Conditions, the API Terms and Conditions, and the Content Policy.  We are also bringing our content policy precheck program out of beta.  I’ll detail all of the changes below.

Shop Terms and Conditions

These are the terms that govern shop owners on Shapeways.  This update overhauls the format so that it makes a bit more sense, and updates some of the policies.  It also takes steps to simplify the terms.  Since you need to have a regular Shapeways account in order to open a shop, it tries to incorporate terms from the standard Shapeways Terms and Conditions by reference instead of repeating them again in the Shop terms.

For example, instead of having a big section on content rules, the new terms incorporate the existing Content Policy.  That should reduce confusion by just having one content policy that governs the entire site and make the terms a bit more concise and easier to read.

While the payment terms remain largely the same (we pay your markup if it is over $30 on the 15th of each month) there are a few additions designed to clarify policies and address issues that have emerged over the years.

One of the most important changes is to highlight the importance of providing us with correct PayPayl information for an account that can receive transfers from the United States or the Netherlands.  Failure to do this can cause all sorts of problems, so we wanted to make sure that there was ample warning in the terms that you need to do that in order to receive  your markup.

Another change is adding rules about how we handle markups on orders that later get returned or rejected.  Sometimes a model is returned because we did not print it correctly.  In those cases we will continue to reprint the models at our expense and send shop owners their markup.  However, sometimes a model is returned or rejected because of an error on the part of the designer.  We are currently exploring the best way to handle those situations.  It is likely that in at least some of those cases we will not pay the designer a markup if the return or rejection stems from errors that they made.

The changes to the terms give us the ability to begin testing rules governing what happens when a product is returned due to designer error.  The process of exploring options will take some time, and we will strive to do it in an open, inclusive way.  Expect to hear more about the process soon.  Until we roll out a more formal tests, designers will at most receive warnings that their model was returned due to what we believe to be their error.  To put it another way, we will not begin withholding markups for returned or rejected models until we have new rules in place.

Most of the rest of the changes are relatively small.  We added a reminder that some tax authorities require us and/or our payment processors to report data on accounts with gross payments over $20,000 and 200 transactions.  We also did a better job of linking the indemnity and product liability sections of the shop owner terms with the general site terms.  At the end we made it explicit that we may change the terms from time to time.

Finally, we linked the confidentiality terms in the shop owner terms to those in our privacy statement.  Hopefully that will give all users of the site a  more uniform set of expectations in terms of privacy on the site.

Terms and Conditions

As I noted at the start of this post, in addition to an overhaul of the shop terms and conditions we also made some updates to other policies on the site.  In addition to fixing some typos in our general terms, the update has two substantive additions.  These are actually clarifications of existing policies that we wanted to make even more clear in the terms.  Remember that these apply to all users, not just shop owners.

The first is what happens when a model violates the content policy. The terms now make it clear that if a model violates our content policy we will refuse to print it and issue you a refund.  If we catch the violation after we print the model, we will not ship you the model and may not issue you a full refund.

We are pairing this with removing the content policy precheck program from beta.  You can email  content-precheck@shapeways.com if you are worried that a model might run into trouble with our content policy.  Even if your model is incomplete – or even just an idea – we will do our best to give you guidance about how our content policy applies to you.

The second update to the general terms a clarification as to what happens when you remove a model from Shapeways.  The terms now make it clear that we may continue to use the model as part of our internal education and testing process. This is largely because we use user models to develop testing benchmarks that need to be consistent over time.  However, you can still always email customer service when you remove a model and request that it also be removed from internal testing.

API Terms and Conditions

The updates to the API Terms and Conditions are relatively modest.  In addition to some minor typos, the terms now make it clear that developers using the API are responsible for all fraud and chargebacks related to their use.  Since the API developer is in the best position to design their application in a way that avoids these sorts of fraudulent charges, it seemed only fair that they are responsible when someone uses the application fraudulently.

Content Policy

Last on the list of updates is the Content Policy.  The biggest change, which I already  mentioned above, is that we are bringing the content policy precheck out of beta.  Besides cleaning up some typos (by the way, feel free to let me know when you see typos in our policies….), the only other change is to make our preferred way of receiving copyright takedown notices more prominent.  Sending emails to content@shapeways.com is the best way to get a takedown request processed efficiently, and now that email address is more obvious on the page.

Thus concludes the spring recitation of the Shapeways policy updates.  As always, if you have any comments, questions or concerns, feel free to put them in the comments below, email them to me at mweinberg@shapeways.com, or tweet at me @MWeinberg2D.

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