International Makerspaces

Matthew Rimmer
6 min readFeb 12, 2021


Remaking the Maker Movement

QUT Faculty of Business and Law

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Z1064, Gibson Room, Level 10, Z Block

QUT Gardens Point Campus

Session 5 — International Makerspaces (4:00 pm — 5:00 pm)

4:00 pm — 4:20 pm

Institutionalisation and Informal Innovation in South African Maker Communities

Dr Chris Armstrong, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg; University of Ottawa; and Open African Innovation Research (Open AIR) network


This presentation explores the current modalities at play in respect of institutionalisation and informal innovation in maker communities in South Africa. Research in 2016–18 generated data on more than 30 maker communities across South Africa. The data provide insights into a number of management, spatial and activity variables present in the practices of the maker communities and their members. This paper focuses on two of the dimensions found to be present when looking across the management, spatial and activity variables: institutionalisation and informal innovation. Institutionalisation is conceptualised as resulting in, and from: (1) formalisation of maker communities’ practices; (2) partnerships between maker communities and formal organisations; and (3) embedding of maker communities in formal organisations. Informal innovation is conceptualised as manifesting in: (1) constraint-based innovation; (2) incremental innovation; (3) collaborative innovation; (4) informal approaches to knowledge appropriation; and (5) innovation in informal networks/communities in informal settings. The data show that since the emergence of the maker movement in South Africa in roughly 2011, there has been an increase in institutionalisation of, and within, maker communities. At the same time, the data show that there continues to be a strong spirit of informality in the communities, with most of the communities, including the relatively more-institutionalised ones, actively seeking to preserve emphasis on informal-innovation modalities. A core conclusion is that, in the present stage of evolution of the South African maker movement, elements of institutionalisation appear to be largely offering synergies, rather than tensions, with the ethos of informal innovation. Such synergies are allowing South African maker communities to play intermediary, semi-formal roles, as mediating entities between formal and informal elements of the country’s innovation ecosystem.


Dr. Chris Armstrong is Research Associate, LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, South Africa; Senior Research Associate, Centre for Law, Technology and Society, University of Ottawa; and Researcher, Open African Innovation Research (Open AIR) network. Email:,

4:20 pm — 4:40 pm

3D Printing and Intellectual Property

Professor Lucas Osborn, Campbell University Norman A. Wiggins School of Law


Intellectual property (IP) laws were drafted for tangible objects, but 3D printing technology, which digitizes objects and offers manufacturing capacity to anyone, is disrupting these laws and their underlying policies. In his timely new book, Lucas S. Osborn focuses on the novel issues raised for IP law by 3D printing for the major IP systems around the world. He specifically addresses how patent and design law must wrestle with protecting digital versions of inventions and policing individualized manufacturing, how trademark law must confront the dissociation of design from manufacturing, and how patent and copyright law must be reconciled when digital versions of primarily utilitarian objects are concerned. With an even hand and keen insight, Osborn offers an innovation-centered analysis of and balanced response to the disruption caused by 3D printing that should be read by nonexperts and experts alike.


Lucas Osborn is an expert in the area of Intellectual Property Law, with a focus on Patent Law. He has authored over a dozen articles on intellectual property law, presented his research on three continents, and been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and local publications. His scholarship is highly cited and appears in law reviews such as Notre Dame Law Review, U.C. Davis Law Review, Cardozo Law Review, San Diego Law Review, and Stanford Technology Law Review.

Professor Osborn serves as the founder and director of Campbell Law School’s Intellectual Property Law Program. Before coming to Campbell Law, he clerked for the Honorable Kenneth M. Hoyt on the United States District Court for the Southern district of Texas and served as an attorney at a major international law firm where his practice focused on patent litigation, patent prosecution and intellectual property licensing. He is licensed to practice in front of the U.S. Patent and Trademark office and holds an of-counsel position at Michael Best & Friedrich.

His most recent works explore three-dimensional printing (3D printing) and other digital technology affects the law, particularly intellectual property law. He has published a book on the topic with Cambridge University Press titled 3D Printing and Intellectual Property. Professor Osborn also served for four years on the Confidentiality Commission within the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

4:40 pm — 5:00 pm

International Perspectives on Disability Exceptions in Copyright Law and the Visual Arts: Feeling Art

Associate Professor Jani McCutcheon, The University of Western Australia


Jani McCutcheon’s new book (co-edited with Ana Ramalho) provides an overview of disability exceptions to copyright infringement and the international and human rights legal framework for disability rights and exceptions. The focus is on those exceptions as they apply to visual art, while the book presents a comprehensive study of copyright’s disability exceptions per se and the international and human rights law framework in which they are situated.

3D printing now allows people with a visual impairment to experience 3D reproductions of paintings, drawings and photographs through touch. At the same time, the uncertain application of existing disability exceptions to these reproductions may generate concerns about legal risk, hampering sensory art projects and reducing inclusivity and equity in cultural engagement by people with a visual impairment. The work adopts an interdisciplinary approach, with contributions from diverse stakeholders, including persons with disabilities, cultural institutions and the 3D printing industry. The book sketches the scene relating to sensory art projects. Experts in intellectual property, human rights, disability and art law then critically analyse the current legal landscape relating to disability access to works of visual art at both international and regional levels, as well as across a broad representative sample of national jurisdictions, and identify where legal reform is required.

This comparative analysis of the laws aims to better inform stakeholders of the applicable legal landscape, the legal risks and opportunities associated with sensory art and the opportunities for reform and best practice guidelines, with the overarching goal of facilitating international harmonisation of the law and enhanced inclusivity.


Jani teaches and researches in the areas of intellectual property law and is the Law School’s Deputy Head of School, Teaching and Learning. Her research focuses on copyright and moral rights, particularly in the context of literature and visual art. Jani obtained her LLB and a BA (Hons) in English Literature from Monash University, and a LLM by research from UWA which focused on the potential registration of non-traditional trade marks. Before joining UWA in 1999, she worked as a solicitor for Freehill, Hollingdale and Page, and a Legal Research Officer for a Member of the WA Legislative Assembly. Since joining UWA, Jani has from time to time worked part-time as a solicitor and as a consultant to specialist intellectual property law firms. She has published internationally in numerous peer-reviewed journals and edited collections and presented her work at conferences and workshops in many countries, a number of which she has convened or co-convened. She has been a visiting scholar at Berkeley Law school.

Session 5 — International Makerspaces (4:00 pm — 5:00 pm)

Dr Chris Armstrong, ‘Institutionalisation and Informal Innovation in South African Maker Communities’, Remaking the Maker Movement, QUT Faculty of Business and Law, 3 February 2021,

Professor Lucas Osborn, ‘3D Printing and Intellectual Property’, Remaking the Maker Movement, QUT Faculty of Business and Law, 3 February 2021,

Associate Professor Jani McCutcheon, ‘International Perspectives on Disability Exceptions in Copyright Law and the Visual Arts: Feeling Art’, Remaking the Maker Movement, QUT Faculty of Business and Law, 3 February 2021,



Matthew Rimmer

Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Law, QUT. #Copyright #Patent #Trademark #plainpacks #Access2meds #SDGs #Climate #IndigenousIP #trade #TPP