Virtual blueprints for the world's first 3-D printable handgun found a safe harbour at file-sharing website The Pirate Bay, dodging a US government attempt to pull them off the internet.
Defence Distributed, a Texas non-profit organisation that promotes the open-source development of firearms using 3D printers, withdrew the files needed to make the single-shot Liberator at the request of the State Department on Thursday. "This file has been removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defence Trade Controls," said Defence Distributed on its website.
"Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information," it added without elaboration.
But the crackdown on the Liberator clearly came too late to forestall the re-posting of its computer-aided design files on The Pirate Bay, a popular peer-to-peer file sharing service that has been linked by its critics to film and music piracy.
"Nice try blocking this fed," wrote one Pirate Bay user, utilising a slang word for federal government, in a comments section that veered strongly in favour of Americans' constitutional right to own and carry firearms.
The inventor of the 3-D gun, University of Texas law student Cody Wilson, said he sees a court battle looming in a case that raises questions about online freedoms and the possibilities of open-source 3-D printing innovation.
"I'm going to need some high- powered legal help, but thankfully a lot of people have pledged support," he said.