What Is DMCA and Why It Is Important for CAD Designers

DMCA for content protection

The rise and popularity of the internet have changed the  way we create and share content. We have come a long way from the good old days of peer-to-peer sharing to the modern cloud-based sharing platforms. You can access any information in just a few clicks, even if you are sitting in a remote corner of the world. What we often ignore is the downside to this free access.

What do you do when someone takes your copyrighted material and uses it as their own? Owing to the vast expanse of the internet, tracking every incident of copyright infringement may not even be feasible. While this is particularly alarming for digital content creators such as YouTubers, bloggers, etc., it can also affect CAD designers. Fortunately, there are laws and legislation to safeguard the intellectual property (IP) rights of CAD designers and their clients.

Before we take a closer look at one such law, let us understand why CAD designers need to be cautious of copyright infringement. 

Computer-aided Design (CAD) and Copyright Infringement

Imagine a hypothetical scenario. You take hours to design the 3D model of a new walking stick for your client. This prototype is used to create tangible products and sell them in the market. A consumer purchases this product and is highly impressed with its utility. Somehow, they manage to get hold of your CAD files and a 3D printer and create a duplicate version of your original product.

Further, they create multiple copies of the product and start selling them online at a cheaper price. They may even use your client’s brand name and logo on the duplicate products. Apart from diluting your client’s branding and authority, it also puts your reputation at risk. The worst part is that you may not be aware of the scam since it could be happening in another country or continent.

You might think that the likelihood of the occurrence of such an incident is negligible. But, the abundance of 3D printers and their declining costs have made it easy for today’s consumers to create their own products. Moreover, cybercriminals can hack your computer and get access to all the CAD files, prototypes, and models developed by you. In the worst-case scenario, they could release these files online, allowing anyone to create duplicate products using your designs.

What if there was a way to monitor and report any such duplication? How do you take action against those cybercriminals who leaked your CAD files? What about the end consumers who create low-quality duplicates of your original product? As a CAD designer, you should be aware of your IP rights to protect your work and reputation.

Let us now understand what is DMCA and how it protects CAD designers.

Decoding DMCA

DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a copyright law that was passed in the U.S. in 1998. It put into action two treaties formulated by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The main aim of DMCA is to protect the IP rights of bloggers, YouTubers, designers, musicians, filmmakers, etc. It also addresses the rights and obligations of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) whose servers host content that violates copyright laws.

Simply put, DMCA lets you take action against anyone who uses your legally protected work under their name on the internet. You can send a DMCA notice to the violator and ask them to remove the copyrighted material from their website. The term “copyrighted material” refers to audio clips, tunes, videos, images, text, designs, prototypes, etc.

It is, however, crucial to understand that ISPs and platforms like Google, YouTube, Facebook, etc. are free from the legal repercussions of DMCA. DMCA gives a sort of “safe harbor” to these platforms. They aren’t required to monitor the content that is being regularly uploaded. However, they are obligated to take down a piece of content when a copyright violation is reported against it.

When you detect any copyright violation of your content, you can send a DMCA takedown notice to the website owner or ISP. The ISP removes the infringed content and sends a notice to its publisher. The publisher, in turn, can send a counter-notice to fight the takedown. If you don’t respond to the counter-notice within a given period of time, the ISP is obligated to restore the removed content.

If you want to understand the application of DMCA, just run a quick Google search for “watch Big Bang Theory online”. Scroll to the end of the first page of search results. Here’s what you will see:

Image via Google

What has likely happened is that the show’s producers or studio executives have issued a DMCA notice to Google. Google, in turn, has obliged by delisting the violating website from its search results. The producers may also have sent takedown notices to the website owner and associated ISP.

Now re-imagine the previous example of the walking stick under the purview of DMCA. When you find out that your prototype is being replicated, you can send a takedown notice to the website hosting the prototype. The owner of the website is legally obligated to immediately remove your CAD files.

It is worth mentioning that certain websites like Thingiverse and Shapeways abide by the DMCA guidelines. CAD designers are free to share their licensed work on these platforms. The only catch is that if their work is distributed beyond the scope of these websites, DMCA can’t protect the rights of the owner.

Another major challenge with DMCA is that it requires you to keep a close eye on any possible infringement of your work. This is not feasible always, considering the endless scope of the internet. This is where a DMCA service can be of great help. Think of it as an agency with a team of experts who work round-the-clock to detect copyright violations and issue DMCA takedown notices.

Conclusion

As a CAD designer, you invest a lot of time and effort to create models and prototypes of new products. It can be disheartening to witness your ideas being replicated and used to sell low-quality products in the market. It raises questions on your credibility and reputation. Additionally, it jeopardizes the safety of the consumers who buy the duplicate product.

DMCA is a law that attempts to protect copyright owners against incidents of infringement on the internet. While the law is mostly leveraged by content creators, it is also helpful for CAD designers. You just have to watch out for any online material that violates your IP rights and issue a takedown notice to its owner. You can even enlist the help of a DMCA service for this purpose.

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How to Start a Home-Based CAD Business

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Computer-aided design (CAD) has revolutionized the way companies across various sectors operate. From architecture and construction to manufacturing and fabrication – CAD has helped various industries maximize their efficiency. In simple terms, CAD is a technology that uses computers to create, modify, analyze, and test designs for various purposes. You can use it to develop accurate blueprints, floorplans, and models.

While there is a plethora of CAD software available in the market, it takes a certain level of expertise to use it efficiently. Consequently, many companies are constantly in search of specialized personnel to outsource CAD-related tasks. If you have been trying your hands at various CAD software, it is time you think about monetizing your skills.

One of the easiest ways is to offer CAD drafting services from the comfort of your home. It is, however, crucial to mention that the popularity of CAD has led to a spur in the growth of home-based CAD business. Therefore, you should develop an actionable plan to launch and sustain your venture.

Here are a few tips that will help kickstart your home-based CAD business:

1. Get Certified

If you want to start a CAD business, having impeccable drafting skills isn’t enough. You can only showcase your expertise once you have grabbed the attention of your client. However, it may not help you make a strong first impression. Thus, it is crucial to obtain professional certification from a reputed training institute.

When you gain a professional qualification, it acts as a stamp of approval on your prowess. This, in turn, adds your credibility and makes it easier for a client to trust you. Even if you possess top-notch drafting skills and meticulous experience, it is essential to get certified. This will give your business an edge over your competitors.

There are a plethora of colleges and institutes that offer CAD training courses. Make sure you select a trusted and recognized institute. It is also essential to choose the right CAD software for which you want to obtain the certification.

2. Procure the Right Tools and Equipment

Just because your business is home-based doesn’t mean you won’t have to invest money in it. The most critical investment for your CAD business is to get all the necessary hardware and software. To begin with, you need a sturdy computer with a large high-resolution screen and graphics card. The system should be capable of handling complex design instruction and deliver quick results.

Additionally, you must purchase the latest version of the CAD software you will work with. If you can’t decide which software to choose, check out their online reviews. Make sure you select a software that is quick and accurate and uses the latest technology.

Other important resources include a high-speed internet connection and a printer. Depending on the niche you are working in, you may also have to buy drafting supplies to physically test your designs. It is worth mentioning that you should allocate a specific budget for the initial set up of your business. It is equally essential to set aside a dedicated working space. 

3. Identify Your Specialization

Here is the thing – any company can purchase CAD software and hire a trained professional to carry out routine tasks. Why should they outsource the work to your business when it can be done in-house? The key is to offer highly advanced and specialized services, beyond generic tasks such as design and testing.

It is important to identify your area of expertise and develop a set of niche-specific services. Apart from impressing your clients, it also helps you identify the project you want to work on. For instance, if you are experienced in interior design, you can offer specialized services for construction and civil engineering companies. Likewise, if you come from an engineering background, you can focus on projects that let you showcase this additional knowledge.

In addition to routine activities, you should strive to offer sophisticated services such as 3D modeling and simulation. This will further convince your clients to outsource the project to you. It will also help you stand apart from the crowd of mediocre CAD drafting businesses.

4. Offer Competent Pricing

How do you convince a client to give their money to you in exchange for your drafting skills? The answer is to make your services as cost-effective as possible. Convince the client that you are charging them way less than what they would have to spend to carry out the task in-house. It is also important to keep an eye on your competitors’ charges and ensure that your pricing is at par.

5. Promote Your Business

Marketing is the most crucial step when launching a new business. Clients won’t approach you with their work unless they know about you. This has become even more crucial as the market is getting saturated with new sub-standard CAD businesses. You have to develop an effective marketing strategy to cut through this noise and hit the right ears.

The advent of digital marketing has made it easier for new entrepreneurs to reach out to their target audience. You can start by creating an impressive website for your business. Showcase your best work samples and include testimonials from your clients. Work on search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure that your website shows up in relevant search results.

Additionally, you should ensure that your business has a strong presence on different social media platforms. You can also leverage paid advertising on social media and search engines. You can even join a digital marketing online course to learn advanced marketing techniques and take your business to the right people.

Online marketing channels have a wide reach and are often more affordable. However, you shouldn’t ignore offline advertising altogether. You can leverage cost-effective techniques such as distributing flyers and brochures in your neighborhood. You should also identify businesses that are relevant to your niche and approach them for cross-promotion opportunities.

Conclusion

Starting a home-based CAD business is a lucrative career option. However, owing to the abundance of such business in the market, you must work hard to distinguish yourself from others. Identify your niche and offer specialized services at affordable rates to lure your clients. You should also outline a marketing strategy for your business that leverages both online and offline channels.

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How to Build a Career as a Freelance CAD Designer

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In today’s day and age, it is often difficult to keep up with high living costs, rentals, and EMIs. Even if you have a high-paying job, it may not be enough for you to make ends meet. Moreover, companies might lay off their employees due to changes in the economy and organizational structure. It is not surprising that so many people are always on the quest for a profitable side hustle.

Fortunately, computer-aided design has opened up a treasure trove of new career opportunities for engineers, architects, designers, etc. It is no longer mandatory for you to work solely within the confines of your job. Many companies are on the lookout for talented CAD designers to outsource their projects. As a freelance CAD designer, you can choose your clients and work on projects that interest you.

Apart from providing you with an additional income stream, it also helps fulfill your creative aspirations. You get to make new contacts, hone your skills, and work on a variety of projects. It steers your career in a new direction and helps you make extra money. In the long run, you can even give up your full-time job and set up your own CAD drafting business.

Are you willing to take the plunge and give up the comfort of a steady job? Here are a few helpful tips for you:

1. Diversify Your Skills

If you are working as a CAD designer, you have likely already obtained the required training and certification. However, top-notch professional qualifications aren’t the only thing that will help you fetch new clients. As a freelancer, you have to deal with various types of clients who have very specific requirements and expectations. What will you do when a client asks you to work on Autodesk Inventor instead of AutoCAD?

The key is to not restrict yourself to any particular CAD software. It is important to remember that you are a CAD designer, not a mere software operator. Make sure you are well-versed with all the latest and popular CAD tools. It will prepare you to tackle the challenges of any project irrespective of how complicated and demanding it is. This, in turn, will help you win over your clients and bag even better projects.

2. Adapt to Technology

From architecture and interior design to manufacturing and product design – technological advancement affects every industry. CAD is not an exception. For instance, the introduction of 3D printing has impacted the way CAD designers work. Likewise, many companies are working to integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning with their CAD tools to automate routine tasks.

It is, therefore, essential for you to stay abreast of the latest developments in CAD technology. Watch out for the emerging industry trends and latest software versions. This empowers you to revamp your skills and qualifications before a big change hits the market. It is also crucial for you to regularly upgrade the hardware and software you work with.

3. Scout for Projects

Freelancing can be a particularly lonesome journey, especially during the initial days. How do you showcase your designing skills and get hold of high-paying clients? Where do you go to find the kind of projects you want to work on? The internet has all the answers.

Just run a quick Google search for “freelance CAD projects”. You will find a plethora of websites that connect you with clients from all over the world. Some of the most reliable and popular platforms include Cad Crowd, Upwork, GrabCAD, Fiverr, etc. You can get started by signing up as a freelancer or job seeker.

Make sure you complete your profile and include a link to your portfolio and work samples. It adds to your credibility and helps clients perceive you as a trusted professional. Most of these platforms require you to compete with other freelancers by bidding on a particular project. It is crucial to place an optimum bid so that you don’t feel under-compensated upon completing the project.

4. Create and Promote Your Website

As a freelancer, you are in charge of advertising and networking too. One of the strongest marketing assets for any independent professional is their website. When you approach new clients, the first thing they want to do is take a look at your website. Thus, it is extremely crucial for you to have a well-designed website that showcases your work.

Platforms like WordPress and Wix let you create sophisticated websites in just a few easy steps. It eliminates the need to hire a trained programmer or struggle with the nitty-gritty of website development. Make sure your website is visually stunning and easily navigable. Include your portfolio and a few client testimonials to make the website even more compelling.

While your website is getting ready, you should develop a strategy to promote it. Even the most well-designed website is of no use unless it gets steady traffic. Make sure you include the website URL in your visiting cards, email signature, social media profiles, etc.It is equally important to ensure that your website has strong visibility on search engines. Identify relevant keywords in your niche and optimize the content of your website using these keywords. When done correctly, search engine optimization (SEO) improves your website’s search engine ranking and helps drive increased organic traffic. If you are not well-versed with the basics of SEO, you can even hire SEO virtual assistants to work on your website.

Additionally, you can start a blog to share your unique perspective on relevant topics. It helps establish your authority on subjects related to CAD. It also improves your website’s search engine ranking. This, in turn, motivates new clients to trust you.

5. Up Your Social Media Game

Social media has made its way into every aspect of our lives, including the way we work. It is essential for you to have a strong presence on various social media platforms. Start by creating a Facebook page and upgrading your Instagram profile to a business account. Invite your friends, followers, and clients to like the page. Upload snippets of your work to keep your audience engaged.

It is also crucial to use the right hashtags along with your social media posts. These will help expand your reach and connect you with potential clients. You can also run paid ad campaigns to promote your posts and reach out to a wider audience. Make sure you are present on all the platforms where your prospective clients will likely be active.

Conclusion

The thought of becoming a freelance CAD designer can be daunting at first. However, the joy of working on your own terms outweighs the risks associated with it. All you have to do is develop an actionable plan before you set out on your freelancing journey. Apart from acquiring top-notch skills, you should also focus on building your brand and networking with new clients.

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Using Pattern Brushes in Adobe Illustrator for Decorative Borders

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Users of Adobe Illustrator can create complex patterns made of simple tiles, and also have an incredible amount of brush shapes to work with. Most of these two features are used separately, but combining them together can provide another great creative feature: pattern brushes.

Almost a Hidden Feature

Unlike the patterns, you’ll notice in the Swatches palette, or the brushes in the Brushes palette, Pattern Brushes don’t stand out as an obvious feature in Illustrator. But if you look at the bottom of the Brushes palette’s default brushes, you can see an example of a pattern brush. Or if you open the Brush Libraries, you’ll find several sets of Borders that can be used as pattern brushes.

Patterns Combined to Create Paths

Pattern Brushes are comprised of a set of patterns combined on a path. This set of patterns can include the side tile (for standard strokes), start tile, end tile (which can be the same as a start tile, but flipped, — or a different design), outer corner, and inner corner tiles. The corner tiles can be omitted if a pattern tile is designed for free-formed paths.

When used on a squared border, Illustrator places the outer corner tile in all four corners, with the side tile placed in between, seamlessly joined together. When used as a free-form path, the start and end tiles cap the repeated use of the side tile. The side tile will follow the path, and be stretched around sharper corners.

Create Adjoining Patterns and Use As a Brush

Here’s how to make Pattern Brushes. First, create pattern tiles that will adjoin to each other seamlessly when used. You’ll need end tiles and a side tile (see Example A). Corner tiles would be needed if you want to create a box border or will have hard angles on your path. The examples below use only end and side tiles for a free-form design.

Important: make sure your new patterns tiles are named. Double-click on a pattern tile you’ve added to the swatch palette and give it a name in the dialog box.

Next, create a pattern brush by choosing “New Brush” from the pop-out menu in the Brushes palette. Choose “New Pattern Brush” from the next dialog box. The Pattern Brush Options dialog box appears (see Example B). All the pattern tiles from the Swatch palette are listed, with five indicators of the pattern placements needed. For our example, the two end tiles are placed as well as a side tile, but the corner tiles are left blank. Save the brush.

Now choose the new pattern brush from the Brushes Palette. Check a fill/stroke indicator to make sure you have “stroke” checked. Now pick a drawing tool and draw your object. The pattern brush follows your object’s shape. The pattern tiles are automatically added and adjust to the contours. You may need to edit the pattern brush in the Brushes palette to compensate for gaps and stretches, depending on the type of design you’ve created.

Creative Detailed Results without a Ton of Work

The use of Pattern Brushes allows for some very interesting and complex looking artwork without a ton of effort needed (see the finished example above or below). All the “hard” work is done in just a few pattern tiles, and Illustrator takes over to do the detail work on a larger scale.


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Adobe Flash Cookies: Collecting User Data Under the Radar with Complete Stealth

Adobe Flash cookies

Adobe has created a new proprietary flash cookie which can save a large amount of data, lives indefinitely on the users machine, and cannot be read without accessing Adobe’s website. Wired Magazine reports that UC Berkeley researchers have found that 54 of the top 100 websites are using flash cookies now.

How do Normal Internet Cookies Compare to Adobe Flash Cookies?

Normal Internet Cookies are limited in their size to 4kb. This was part of the RFC 2109 limitations standard which is conformed to by both Internet Explorer and Netscape and was compiled by The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

These standards limit total cookies that can be saved on a web user’s machine at one time to 300. Additionally there is a per domain limit of 20 cookies. Cookies may hold text or array data yet are still limited to a size of 4kb each. Normally cookies begin their lives in the memory of the browser and only if a cookie is given a longer life span than the life of the browser will it then be written to disk.

Adobe flash cookies (i.e. also called Local Shared Objects (LSO), have a maximum size of 100kb. The user must navigate to the Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager in order to check the flash cookies residing on their machine. There are no other methods of doing this. The larger size they have do allow flash cookies on a website to save at least parts of favorite songs, videos, and photo media in order to make for a richer user experience.

How to Delete Normal Internet and Flash Cookies

Deleting normal Internet cookies is no mystery. Microsoft has posted instructions in several locations on the Internet.

How to Delete Flash Cookies

If a web user makes use of Mozilla Firefox as their browser he or she can make use of an add-on which will allow automation of the deletion of flash cookies. It is called BetterPrivacy. With this utility, all flash cookies are deleted upon each browser shutdown. Otherwise, the only method to delete flash cookies is to navigate to the Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager and maintain or delete the flash cookies on a machine:

  1. Go to the Settings Manager(Website Storage Settings)
  2. Go to the far-right tab
  3. Click “Delete all sites”
  4. Click Last Tab

To Prevent Websites from Storing Additional Information

For those who want to avoid the Flash Cookies question altogether, the following steps can be taken to prevent storage of Flash Cookies:

  1. Go to Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager
  2. Click the Second Tab (Global Storage Settings)
  3. Set Slider Bar to None
  4. Uncheck “Allow Third Party Flash Content to store data on your computer
  5. Click Last Tab

Why Do Websites Use Cookies at All?

Cookies hold values such as username, last page visited, a logged in switch, etc. Having these items in storage saves the web pages of a website additional data lookups or storing data in another way. Used properly they allow a website to be a much richer user experience and also provide a bit of intelligence to the backend mechanics of a website to enhance the overall user experience.

User information from cookies can also be used to track user movements and preferences and report those back to large advertiser databases. That is one method of how a spam email is born.

There are however huge advertisers that pay some websites with a lot of traffic, large amounts to track their user information by placing their own cookies on the web browser’s machine. The data flows via the cookie back to the advertiser’s website folders and it is hoped those companies all practice good website folder security. Even deleting these cookies via the online Settings Manager will not delete the information in these companies folders.

There are even a few online programs now claiming to make it user voluntary for their cookies to be placed on the user’s machine. A user can opt out although it is clearly stated on the advertiser’s webpage that they have no control over their affiliates. It is up to the savvy web user to find out who the affiliates are and how to find their opt out web pages though. This is after finding who the advertisers are of course. In fact it appears user data is also sold by the large advertiser upon receipt.

Since some unscrupulous websites and advertisers use cookies to track user’s online activity, having cookies you cannot delete or even are not aware of is borderline unethical. Flash cookies are popular, valuable to advertisers, very well hidden, and are here to stay.

In the future, hopefully, the management of flash cookies will be built into browsers and made more available to the average Internet user. Along with the popularity will come checks and balances making it easier to protect Internet privacy for the average web user.

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How to Design a Photoshop Club: Schools Benefit From an Online Learning Portal

Design a Photoshop club

Photoshop Clubs usually share a basic structure. There is need for a gallery, discussion boards and forums peopled with characters. They may wish to remain anonymous by displaying an avatar as a signature. These portals are easy to create and not too time consuming to manage if they are well planned from the outset. The benefits of this kind of learning can be quite profound.

Safety Procedures for Online Sharing of Content

Clubs can be locked to protect the privacy of the students. Digital space may be limited so that students are encouraged to be selective when uploading their work. This needs to be selective as it may cause students to develop a sense of discernment when learning about design.

A moderator can be appointed who will take material offline if it is inappropriate and does not comply with the rules of the club.

Feasibility Study to Ascertain Workability of Project

Although the idea is a good one, setting up the club may be time consuming. There is a need for some basic equipment if the club is to function.

Any school that has unlimited access to Photoshop on all computers is in an ideal position to create such a club free of charge.

There would need to be:

  • support from administration
  • at least one teacher who has the passion to manage the learning environment
  • keen students, some of whom have at least basic skills with the programme so that they can be role models and lead the way
  • access to a scanner or digital camera (although students could download images from online if they needed to, as by the time they have been altered they will no longer break copyright)
  • a free social network tool such as Ning (social network tool) or WetPaint (wiki tool)

Characteristics and Benefits of Photoshop Clubs

A Photoshop Club can be structured so that it is a gathering place on line. So that the work keeps flowing and that students are learning and upgrading techniques, regular challenges are given out to participants. This provides the space and focus to motivate students.

Learning Photoshop via an online streaming vignette works well for many students. The amount of time required for students to complete the exercises demonstrated on WatchandLearnphotoshop.com is not too great. This is, of course, unless the students are highly motivated to extend their knowledge and mastery. If this happens and the students become engaged, they can extend the challenges, test the limits and hone their skills to a very highly polished degree.

Creating an Online Gallery of Images

As the students improve their ability to manipulate images and they develop their skills and sense of design, a fantastic gallery of images will evolve.

Not only can the students monitor their own improvement, but the school will benefit from a growing library of images to act as an image bank, relevant to the school culture. There will be a fondness for the material because the images would be owned by the student and teaching community.

Others could commission images and set challenges that will directly meet the needs of the school population. A promotions committee designed to publicise the school would be of particular benefit.

As the examples are loaded into the gallery, students will be able to see a wide range of styles, thought processes and artistic inspirations that can be stimulated by one simple question.

Once the community begins to understand the benefits of the venture, the learning culture of the school is expected to flourish. The bank of useful, local images is expected to attract an audience to further enhance feedback and participation.

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