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Pt 10220

Today is a big day for anyone who designs (or builds) open source hardware. For about 5+ years or so the term “open source hardware” has been used more and more to generally describe projects in which the creators have decided to completely publish all the source, schematics, firmware, software, bill of materials, parts list, drawings and “board” files to recreate the hardware – they also allow any use, including commercial. Similar to open source software like Linux, but this hardware centric.

There were, will be, and are – many ways to define open source hardware but some of the leading makers and thinkers on the subject got together and I’m really thrilled to help announce that there is a draft of the Open source hardware (OSHW) definition version 0.3 and a summit this year, right before Maker Faire NYC.

Ayah Bdeir (Eyebeam fellow & coordinator of these efforts) has this to say about the first round of the definition and the summit. She writes…

I started getting interested in Open Hardware as a vehicle for innovation and social change while at the CCG group at the MIT Media Lab, and got fully immersed in it while a senior fellow at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York. Now, I am a (crazy!) strong believer in the power of Open Hardware. When I started littleBits, I jumped into the many challenges of porting the Open Source movement to hardware.

As I worked closely on legal strategy with incredible advisor, John Wilbanks, VP of Science at Creative Commons, we decided to create a venue for the community to interface with CC, and embark on a mission to help catalyse an Open Hardware license. The workshop, entitled “Opening Hardware: A workshop on Legal tools for open source hardware” took place at Eyebeam on March 17th and featured OH pioneers such as Arduino, Adafruit, Buglabs, MakerBot, Chumby as well as Jonathan Kuniholm (Open Prosthetics), Chris Anderson (Wired), Mako Hill (OLPC, Wikipedia), Jon Philips (Qi), Shigeru Kobayashi (Gainer), Becky Stern (Make) and Thinh Nguyen and John Wilbanks (CC) and us (littleBits, Eyebeam). Since then we, and an incredible group of OH stars (Evil Mad Scientist, Parallax, Sparkfun, Lilypad), have started putting together a definition that today, we are very excited to release in version 0.3 for public comment.

Recently, I have been appointed as Creative Commons fellow – a very important step which shows CC’s commitment to our community. And on September 23rd, Alicia Gibbs (buglabs) and myself are chairing a summit as part of MakerFaire: the Open Hardware Summit. We will be discussing the license, and hope to put version 1.0 out to the world! Please join us, sponsor us, support us, or just follow us!

Ayah Bdeir
July 14th, 2010

So, what’s next? Check out the open source hardware definition, help get us to 1.0 – for the last 4-5 years I’ve written up the hundreds of projects each year – and we’re finally arriving at some consensus from the people who make the hardware what it is and what the challenges are ahead. Open source hardware exists, it’s real – dozens of companies are thriving making millions of dollars creating great products and sharing the “recipe”.

The below is the license v.0.3 pasted from FreedomDefined. For the original, please go to: http://freedomdefined.org/OSHW

Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Draft Definition version 0.3

OSHW Draft Definition 0.3 is based on the Open Source Definition for Open Source Software and draft OSHW definition 0.2, further incorporating ideas from the TAPR Open Hardware License. Videos and Documentation of the Opening Hardware workshop which kicked off the below license are available here.

Introduction

Open Source Hardware (OSHW) is a term for tangible artifacts — machines, devices, or other physical things — whose design has been released to the public in such a way that anyone can make, modify, distribute, and use those things. This definition is intended to help provide guidelines for the development and evaluation of licenses for Open Source Hardware.

It is important to note that hardware is different from software in that physical resources must always be committed for the creation of physical goods. Accordingly, persons or companies producing items (“products”) under an OSHW license have an obligation not to imply that such products are manufactured, sold, warrantied, or otherwise sanctioned by the original designer and also not to make use of any trademarks owned by the original designer.

The distribution terms of Open Source Hardware must comply with the following criteria:

1. Documentation

The hardware must be released with documentation including design files, and must allow modification and distribution of the design files. Where documentation is not furnished with the physical product, there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining this documentation for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost preferably, downloading via the Internet without charge. The documentation must include design files in the preferred form for which a hardware developer would modify the design. Deliberately obfuscated design files are not allowed. Intermediate forms analogous to compiled computer code — such as printer-ready copper artwork from a CAD program — are not allowed as substitutes.

2. Necessary Software

If the hardware requires software, embedded or otherwise, to operate properly and fulfill its essential functions, then the documentation requirement must also include at least one of the following: The necessary software, released under an OSI-approved open source license, or other sufficient documentation such that it could reasonably be considered straightforward to write open source software that allows the device to operate properly and fulfill its essential functions.

3. Derived Works

The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original hardware. The license must allow for the manufacture, sale, distribution, and use of products created from the design files or derivatives of the design files.

4. Free redistribution

The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the project documentation as a component of an aggregate distribution containing designs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale. The license shall not require any royalty or fee related to the sale of derived works.

5. Attribution

The license may require derived works to provide attribution to the original designer when distributing design files, manufactured products, and/or derivatives thereof. The license may also require derived works to carry a different name or version number from the original design.

6. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.

7. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor

The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the hardware in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the hardware from being used in a business, or from being used in nuclear research.

8. Distribution of License

The rights attached to the hardware must apply to all to whom the product or documentation is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.

9. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product

The rights attached to the hardware must not depend on the hardware being part of a particular larger product. If the hardware is extracted from that product and used or distributed within the terms of the hardware license, all parties to whom the hardware is redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the original distribution.

10. License Must Not Restrict Other Hardware or Software

The license must not place restrictions on other hardware or software that may be distributed or used with the licensed hardware. For example, the license must not insist that all other hardware sold at the same time be open source, nor that only open source software be used in conjunction with the hardware.

11. License Must Be Technology-Neutral

No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual technology or style of interface.

Afterword

The signatories of this Open Source Hardware definition recognize that the open source movement represents only one way of sharing information. We encourage and support all forms of openness and collaboration, whether or not they fit this definition.

Endorsements
OSHW Draft Definition 0.3 is endorsed by the following persons and/or organizations. Please feel free to add (your own names) to this section. Listing your affiliation is optional for personal endorsements, and endorsements are presumed to be personal unless the organization name is listed separately.

David A. Mellis, MIT Media Lab and Arduino
Limor Fried, Adafruit Industries
Phillip Torrone, Make and Adafruit Industries
Leah Buechley, MIT Media Lab
Chris Anderson, Wired and DIY Drones
Nathan Seidle, SparkFun Electronics
Alicia Gibb, Bug Labs
Massimo Banzi, Arduino
Tom Igoe, Arduino, ITP/NYU
Zach Smith, MakerBot Industries
Andrew “bunnie” Huang, bunniestudios
Becky Stern, MAKE
Windell Oskay, Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
John Wilbanks, Creative Commons
Jonathan Kuniholm, Open Prosthetics Project/Shared Design Alliance
Ayah Bdeir, littleBits.cc/Eyebeam/Creative Commons

View other versions and the wiki this was pasted from here: http://freedomdefined.org/OSHW

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


Related

Comments

  1. migueljds.myopenid.com says:

    just to let you know, the link to littleBits is broken.

    you can delete this comment if you like.

  2. Noah Vawter says:

    This is very exciting, fresh, original, and needed! Here are my thoughts:

    “It is important to note that hardware is different from software in that physical resources must always be committed for the creation of physical goods.”

    I am extremely surprised that this license would not acknowledge that software requires physical resources. See the New Yorker’s interview with Saul Griffith for evidence of the eruption in resources necessary to support the world wide web. Distributing software does *not* have zero-marginal cost. Webservers, databases, networks, hard drives, etc, all require resources.

    Hardware vs. software is an outdated dichotomy from the early days of computing. The two terms only exist relatively. The harder parts to change of a system are its hardware, the easier parts are its software. ASICS, FPGAs, PCBs, software radios, switching power supplies, configuration files, etc., all exist somewhere in between those extremes. In fact, it’s not yet clear how e.g. case design would fit into all of this. Are plastic gadget (DVD player, synthesizer, etc.) cases hardware?

    You must regard that the GPL is *one form* of Open Source Software (OSS), just as BSD, MIT, and CC are others. Labeling *this* license “OSHW” is overly broad and would cause confusion with other open source hardware licenses.

    1. “The hardware must be released with documentation”

    This would prevent people from releasing open source hardware under this license without documenting it. This is an important part of the world today – those who reverse-engineer. It will be more successful to let people legally reverse-engineer designs, than force vendors to release their design files. Also, as written, this term is ambiguous about releasing design files without releasing the hardware. Perhaps a vendor would only like to make design files available to those who buy the products? That is still open source, but different from the way you might be thinking about it.

    “Intermediate forms ” is ambiguous. I offer the same critique as point #2, which is endemic to all DIY. How far should it extend?

    e.g. if “printer-ready copper artwork from a CAD program”
    is disallowed, then under what criteria would you allow e.g. .brd and .sch files describing a laptop? They’re both output from the same software, yet the .brd and .sch files require a single vendor’s for-pay piece of software, while the printer-ready artwork could be used in conjunction with many different pieces of free software. What if someone only wanted to release the schematic for their design, without the layout?

    2. “If the hardware requires software,”

    How far does this extend? Hardware requires software, which requires software. Is a silicon chip a platform, and the paths within it software? If I use a chip, do I demand rights to its software such as the Hardware Description Language for it? Do I demand the source code for the HDL compiler? CAD files for the lithography equipment to make it?

    “could reasonably be considered straightforward”

    How could writing e.g. device drivers (and many other programming tasks) *ever* be considered straightforward? I’m serious. You can not stipulate common sense, never mind advanced skills. This could never be argued successfully in front of a judge. Case in point, the Apple iPod, generation 3, had errors in the silicon w/r/t the dual-processor cache. It was nearly impossible to figure that out, but a German kid did it.

    ***As a more practical alternative: require the device to be designed to *allow* people to change the software image within it. For example, changing the software image on a dishwasher, vehicle, etc.

    3. “must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license”

    Most licenses maintain their power by *requiring* that derived works uphold the same license. Must allow != require.

    #6 is unclear. It can not hold any legal power because it is unclear. Maybe it’s trying to avoid associating OSH with racial discrimination??? However, the goal of a license is discrimination among groups of persons, their works, practices, and cultures. It’s best to own up to that at the onset and target the practices you want to replace with earnest justifications.

    #9 and #11 are very unclear. Their phrasing needs to be disentangled. And examples would be valuable, too.

    Good luck with this guys! If I’m done with my thesis by 9/23, I’ll take part :^)

    1. 1lenore.myopenid.com says:

      Noah, this is a definition, not a license. There are open hardware licenses out there, but this is not one of them. I would encourage you to look at the open source initiative (http://www.opensource.org/) for more discussion on why a definition is useful.

    2. oskay says:

      Noah,
      The key thing that you should note here is that this is a *definition* for what it means to be OSHW; it is *not* a license, despite some sloppy phrasing in the introduction.

      This document, when it is finished, will be the standard used to *evaluate* open source hardware licenses, just as the Open Source Definition is used to evaluate open source software licenses. The license itself will be the document that really needs to be vetted strongly to hold up in court, and this definition will be the one that the community– and hopefully the OSI in particular –uses to evaluate whether a given license is valid open source hardware license.

      >I am extremely surprised that this license would not acknowledge that software
      >requires physical resources.

      This isn’t a license. Also, resources needed for software can be huge. This doesn’t say otherwise. Physical resources are *always* needed for copying hardware. Usually permanently. There is a real difference because there is a physical artifact that must be supported under laws that treat physical objects differently from software.

      >You must regard that the GPL is *one form* of Open Source Software (OSS),
      >just as BSD, MIT, and CC are others. Labeling *this* license “OSHW” is overly
      >broad and would cause confusion with other open source hardware licenses.

      No. This is specifically NOT a license. This definition is meant to be compatible with many different hardware licenses, ranging from very restrictive to very permissive.

      >This would prevent people from releasing open source hardware under this license without documenting it.

      Where do you draw the line? In software, do you really think that it makes sense to release a piece of software as “open source” without releasing any of the source code? Saying that you allow a piece of software to be reverse-engineered does not mean that it’s open source. That would be, “closed source, but you’re allowed to reverse engineer it.”

      >What if someone only wanted to release the schematic for their design, without the layout?

      I believe that different portions of a design could be released, separately, each under open source licenses. However, it’s important to be clear that the overall product is not labeled as open source in that case.

      >”could reasonably be considered straightforward” How could writing e.g. device drivers (and many other programming tasks) *ever* be considered straightforward?

      If you have the full hardware documentation, where each chip lists what each register does, then it’s straightforward. Not easy, but straightforward. If you have a proprietary chip, with a proprietary interface that you need the “secret password” for, then you need to release that password. This clause basically means that you don’t need to release software for it if the hardware is fully documented.

      >. “must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license” Most licenses maintain their power by *requiring* that derived works uphold the same license. Must allow != require.

      This is about allowing permissive or restrictive licenses to be constructed that are compatible with the definition. You yourself seem to recognized that there are different types of license out there.

      >#9 and #11 are very unclear. Their phrasing needs to be disentangled. And examples would be valuable, too.

      These are in analogy with the corresponding terms of the OSD. These prevent certain types of loopholes that would allow you to label something as open source when it’s anything but.

  3. Phillip Torrone says:

    @noah – thanks, you brought up a few things we’re all talking about – some of them are edge cases that likely won’t appear but that’s good to hammer those out too – and others are still works in progress (we are 0.3 with a goal of being 1.0 in a few months as others help define this). thanks for the feedback and kind words!

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