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?
6 thoughts on “$9 Computer Founder: Please Steal My Design”
“Please, steal my design”
So, you’re making the PCB Gerbers available and this is not only open-source software, but open-source hardware, too?
Regardless, I’m sure that if it’s popular enough, the Chinese will send it to one of their many companies that specialize in reverse engineering and steal it anyway. That’s their country’s business model and a long-time part of their culture that they even have a term for.
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As we evolve our concept of ownership changes. I believe that at some point in the not too distant future our current practice of “intellectual collateral” or patent law will be thought of with the same disdain that we now hold for slavery. We will think of “owning” somebody else’s idea and vile as owning some other person. Ideas will be liberated, and everybody will be able to have them. Of course we have to free knowledge first, but that’s starting to happen – it’s getting spread around more liberally now than ever before.
That is a noble thought that I believe could work in a world of only noble people, but I’m not so sure it could work well in the real world. In fact, if the work that people did to invent something new could not be capitalized upon by them, wouldn’t they, in effect, be unpaid workers or “slaves”? Just a thought my friend.
yes, it is that “capitalized” part that is turning us all into slaves, paid or not when we don’t “own” our own ideas, or our own labor, but rather they are capitalized and owned by the employers we become wage slaves, struggling to keep up or at least get by why the denizens of Wall St. trade our souls.
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