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 Computer Founder: Please Steal My Design

Open Source boils down to sharing information. There have been various discussions on exactly what being “Open Source” entails, but at the core, the idea is that you share. When businesses consider open source licenses for their products, a common question that arises is “What if someone makes an identical product based on our designs?”

At MakerCon 2015 in New York, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel with some interesting perspectives on open source and how it applies to businesses. One of the panelists was Dave Rouchwerk of the C.H.I.P. $9 computer. I really enjoyed his perspective on this common question.

The core idea is that yes, people may copy your design. That is the nature of open source. Rouchwerk points out that often these copies of designs end up bringing their own design improvements along the way, therefore benefiting the community as a whole. With the C.H.I.P. $9 Computer, the goal was to make a tool that people would use, and that would benefit the community . To that end, Rouchwerk expressed that he may actually be happy to see the first clones of the C.H.I.P. appear. Something that seems very possible since the cheap device has now begun shipping to backers.

How would you respond to seeing clones of your open source project appear on kickstarter?


Senior Editor for Make: I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity of the masses! My favorite thing in the world is sharing the hard work of a maker.

I'd always love to hear about what you're making, so send me an email any time at

View more articles by Caleb Kraft