[okfn-discuss] Open Hardware
jonathan.gray at okfn.org
Sat May 10 21:58:09 BST 2008
Many thanks for this Julian!
I'm still not clear on whether or not there are distinctive legal issues
that arise in relation to publishing prototypes, designs, etc. or
whether these are adequately covered by the GPL, or other
(interoperable) open licenses for text, images, and other aspects of the
designs that are copyrightable.
Perhaps it would help to draft a list of examples - I might suggest this
to the relevant lists (and cc correspondence here - if people think
Also any advice for reading in this area would be much appreciated! (And
feel free to add stuff to the wiki page at
Julian Priest wrote:
> On Thu, May 08, 2008 at 12:46:08PM -0700, Jonathan Gray wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> A friend and I have long been interested in the idea of 'open hardware'.
>> I wondered whether anyone on the list knew about any legal work in this
>> area. Apart from using open licenses for copyrightable aspects of a
>> design, blueprint, procedure (text, images etc.) - what other legal
>> issues are there?
> I see 3. main trains of thought that feel like Open Hardware at the
> 'DIY or make idea' - not really commercial but more like a
> permacultural idea of using what is around - this maybe doesn't have
> much of a legal side. I've been exploring that a bit with
> http://geekosystem.org. Doesn't seem to need a legal side.
> The 'User Controlled Technology' side where users make their own specs
> cutting out marketing and manufacturers and going straight to the
> OEM's for fab.
> This is a group coming out of wireless freenetworks developing routers
> which Juergen Neumann is involved with.
> There was just an OpenTech Summit in Taiwan - freehardware devs meet
> OEM's of which news here.
> Expect more to come out of that direction.
> The 'Open Rapid Prototyping' direction is another version of what you
> might call Open Hardware typified by http://reprap.org.
> That's reinventing the whole production process to be localised at the
> point of use using rapidprototyping tech. http://reprap.org carries
> the 'open' torch on that one. Legally the models are from blender and
> they say..
> "*Legal and Licensing
> We strongly prefer that you submit your text and files under the terms
> of the Gnu General Public License This means they are free, and anyone
> can use them. It also means people can't take your design and say it
> belongs to them now. Finally, people can build more complicated things
> by combining several GPL designs, and the result will also be covered
> by the GPL. "
> which I guess is part of the GPL everything train of thought I have a
> fair bit of time for these days.
> In typical design processes I know that designers and engineers talk
> about which surfaces they own. A designer might model the outer shell
> of an injection mould, but the engineer might model the other side
> with it's spurrs and connections to the chasis for instance.
> That's like a very fine grained control over data ownership, imagine
> different licenses for each nurb or spline? I can imagine
> incomaptibility of free licenses being a total nightmare in that
> case.. imagine using 4 different creative commons licenses to build a
> food blender?
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