Forums

Open Source Hardware

Started by Guy Macon December 23, 2006


I am about to start a new project, and I have decided to make 
the hardware design as well as the software and documentation 
Open Source.  The GPL doesn't seem to have a license that will
work well with a hardware design.  Does anyone know of a 
license that would be appropriate?

Guy Macon
<http://www.guymacon.com/>

Guy Macon <http://www.guymacon.com/> writes:

> I am about to start a new project, and I have decided to make > the hardware design as well as the software and documentation > Open Source. The GPL doesn't seem to have a license that will > work well with a hardware design. Does anyone know of a > license that would be appropriate?
Perhaps you should clarify what you are trying to achieve in the license. Do you want to prevent someone modifying the design and then copyrighting the modifications (as per the GPL)? If not, perhaps you can just put "this work is hereby put into the public domain" or similar. -- John Devereux
"Guy Macon" <http://www.guymacon.com/> schrieb im Newsbeitrag 
news:hKudnV0eaZTjxRDY4p2dnA@giganews.com...
> > I am about to start a new project, and I have decided to make > the hardware design as well as the software and documentation > Open Source. The GPL doesn't seem to have a license that will > work well with a hardware design. Does anyone know of a > license that would be appropriate? > > Guy Macon > <http://www.guymacon.com/> >
Guy, there is no open-source software license that would be suitable for hardware or hard-ip protection. you can try using any license you select but - you should realize that very likely the hardware description will be considered or used as if it where public domain, no matter what open-source license you attach to it. they way you publish and/or license the stuff really depends on your goals, eg why are you make it public, and what do you want to protect, or prevent with the license. worst thing is to attach something like: "please use free but not for commerce". GPL is almost as bad. so its up to your goals - its very unlikely that you get business from license fees, so you may only get side business from those who benefit from the project, and in that case - it would be also ok to tag the project as "public domain" - your name would still be present, and bring you potential business. Antti http://www.microfpga.com
Antti Lukats wrote:
> > there is no open-source software license that would be suitable for hardware > or hard-ip protection.
I wouldn't be quick to assume that. I have heard of "Open Source Hardware" before, and there's an extensive Wikipedia entry on it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source_hardware I'd look at the various projects listed there, find out what licenses they've used, and ask what their thinking on licenses is.
> they way you publish and/or license the stuff really depends on your goals, > eg why are you make it public, and what do you want to protect, or prevent > with the license.
Definitely. The original poster must decide his goals. In software development, far too many people grab a license, such as the GPL, mainly because it's familiar to lotsa people. I often convince people to change their software library projects to LGPL, which is not so commercially onerous, because they hadn't really thought about their goals. Cheers, Brandon Van Every


John Devereux wrote:

>Guy Macon <http://www.guymacon.com/> writes: > >> I am about to start a new project, and I have decided to make >> the hardware design as well as the software and documentation >> Open Source. The GPL doesn't seem to have a license that will >> work well with a hardware design. Does anyone know of a >> license that would be appropriate? > >Perhaps you should clarify what you are trying to achieve in the >license. > >Do you want to prevent someone modifying the design and then >copyrighting the modifications (as per the GPL)? > >If not, perhaps you can just put "this work is hereby put into the >public domain" or similar.
My goal is to achieve the hardware equivalent of Open Source software, not the hardware equivalent of public domain software. In particular, I want to discourage anyone from distributing schematics, etc. that are out of date and have no references that would lead an engineer to the URL where the latest changes are incorporated. I want the design to be free for everyone, and I want anyone who wishes to compete with me to be able to do so, just the same as Linux distributors compete with each other. There is no need to prevent someone modifying the design and then copyrighting the modifications because a hardware design is not copyrightable, and because it is already a standard practice for engineers to copy designs, subject only to patent law, not copyright law. The schematics, documentation, and firmware is copyrightable, and I plan on releasing them under the GLPL to make such copying as easy as possible. I do plan on making and selling these, but I want anyone else who wishes to be able to make and sell exact copies or improved versions if they choose. -- Guy Macon <http://www.guymacon.com/>
Guy Macon <http://www.guymacon.com/> writes:

> John Devereux wrote: > >>Guy Macon <http://www.guymacon.com/> writes: >> >>> I am about to start a new project, and I have decided to make >>> the hardware design as well as the software and documentation >>> Open Source. The GPL doesn't seem to have a license that will >>> work well with a hardware design. Does anyone know of a >>> license that would be appropriate? >> >>Perhaps you should clarify what you are trying to achieve in the >>license. >> >>Do you want to prevent someone modifying the design and then >>copyrighting the modifications (as per the GPL)? >> >>If not, perhaps you can just put "this work is hereby put into the >>public domain" or similar. > > My goal is to achieve the hardware equivalent of Open Source > software, not the hardware equivalent of public domain software. > > In particular, I want to discourage anyone from distributing > schematics, etc. that are out of date and have no references > that would lead an engineer to the URL where the latest changes > are incorporated.
You can copywrite the schematics themselves (rather than the "design"), and attach whatever terms you like to copying them.
> I want the design to be free for everyone, and I want anyone > who wishes to compete with me to be able to do so, just the > same as Linux distributors compete with each other. > > There is no need to prevent someone modifying the design > and then copyrighting the modifications because a hardware > design is not copyrightable, and because it is already a > standard practice for engineers to copy designs, subject > only to patent law, not copyright law. > > The schematics, documentation, and firmware is copyrightable, > and I plan on releasing them under the GLPL to make such > copying as easy as possible.
OK... so why do you need a licence at all for the hardware portion? Or perhaps you are looking for a "don't blame me if it electrocutes your cat" style disclaimer?
> I do plan on making and selling these, but I want anyone > else who wishes to be able to make and sell exact copies or > improved versions if they choose.
-- John Devereux
"Guy Macon" <http://www.guymacon.com/> wrote in message 
news:hKudnV0eaZTjxRDY4p2dnA@giganews.com...
> > I am about to start a new project, and I have decided to make > the hardware design as well as the software and documentation > Open Source. The GPL doesn't seem to have a license that will > work well with a hardware design. Does anyone know of a > license that would be appropriate? >
Have you considered a Creative Commons License? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Commons_License Steve http://www.fivetrees.com
 Confused bunch .   Its only complicated Pentium hardware that allowed
M$ to
 copyright s/w .

 Now that we have powerful , integrated hardware ( ARM )
 These worries will vanish ...


, S/W copyright will be less important , less enforceable ....

 Programmers like easy hardware .  More expert programmers
 will create , free s/w for the easier h/w ......  it gathers momentum
...

  Computers change stuff and when they change they do it
 by massive job loss .  Not like making widgets ...

   You will see a sudden obsolecense in s/w in 2007 , everything
 will be different  ......   Thanks to ARM h/w ........

Guy Macon <http://www.guymacon.com/> wrote:

> I am about to start a new project, and I have decided to make > the hardware design as well as the software and documentation > Open Source. The GPL doesn't seem to have a license that will > work well with a hardware design. Does anyone know of a > license that would be appropriate? > > Guy Macon > <http://www.guymacon.com/>
The design, schematic, specification and bill of materials will be copyrighted but the hardware itself can only be protected by patent. You should probably incorporate a disclaimer re the legislative and safety factors involved so that you don't end up getting sued if someone builds it and gets hurt (too many factors you cannot control) and state that any copy of the schematic should carry such disclaimers through-out. Otherwise, the advice of the others would seem reasonable. -- ******************************************************************** Paul E. Bennett ....................<email://peb@amleth.demon.co.uk> Forth based HIDECS Consultancy .....<http://www.amleth.demon.co.uk/> Mob: +44 (0)7811-639972 Tel: +44 (0)1235-811095 Going Forth Safely ..... EBA. www.electric-boat-association.org.uk.. ********************************************************************