On August 27, a federal judge extended the order forbidding the distribution of downloadable 3D printed gun files. Amazon has taken similar action, removing the 584-page blueprint “The Liberator Code Book: An Exercise in Freedom of Speech” from its online storefront. Despite these actions, the plans have been downloaded 1.5 million times this month.
“The Court finds that the irreparable burdens on the private defendants’ First Amendment rights are dwarfed by the irreparable harms the States are likely to suffer if the existing restrictions are withdrawn and that, overall, the public interest strongly supports maintaining the status quo through the pendency of this litigation,” said U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik as he extended the temporary ban last Monday, arguing that public safety concerns outweighed free speech.
Amazon has removed the $20 book containing similar info, The Liberator Code Book: An Exercise in the Freedom of Speech, citing violations to its terms of service, though the book contains little more than computer code. Forbes reports that an Amazon spokesperson stated that, “book was removed for violating our content guidelines,” though the spokesperson declined to elaborate on which guidelines the book violated. The spokesperson provided terms of service that prevented the sale of pornography, offensive content, illegal and infringing content, the use of certain public domain materials and poor customer service experience.
Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, told Forbes that, “The scope of the injunction is to prevent Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed from publishing the files online. If the files are available in hard copy or book it is different.”
In spite of all this, or perhaps because of it, CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, the website hosting free downloadable code for printing seven different firearms, received nearly 1.5 billion hits, transferring some 4.51 TB of data since launching July 31, according to guns.com. The Firearms Policy Coalition, alongside other gun rights groups, created the site to disseminate the information to the public. Craig DeLuz, of the Firearms Policy Coalition, pointed out that the site averages more than 10,000 new visitors per week.
“Our site will absolutely continue to be published, whatever it takes,” DeLuz told guns.com. “If technology firms abandon the First Amendment on this, it does not bode well for America. Democracy dies in darkness, and when Amazon and Jeff Bezos censor speech.”