Open Hardware: Defined?

By on April 26th, 2010 in Event, Ideas


The results of a March 17th workshop on open hardware have been released. The event, termed “A workshop on legal tools for open source hardware”, started discussing ideas for open hardware licenses beyond the software-heritage open licenses commonly reused today. These software licenses (such as Creative Commons, GPL, etc.) do not necessarily account for the twists and turns of hardware activities. 
Extensive videos are available to take you through the proceedings, which discuss existing legal frameworks and how they might be applied to hardware situations.  
One result of the workshop appears to be a wiki-based definition of Open Source Hardware. As of this writing, the definition is as follows.
Open-source hardware is that for which its designer:
  • provides design files (in the preferred format for making modifications to them)
  • allows the modification and redistribution of the design files
  • allows the manufacture, sale, distribution, and use of devices from the design files or modifications of the design files
  • without discrimination against persons, groups, or fields of endeavor. Additionally, the designer must release under an open-source license any software it has developed that is essential to the proper functioning of the device.
The designer may require others to:
  • provide attribution when distributing design files based on the original designer’s
  • provide attribution when manufacturing devices based on the original designer’s design files or derivatives thereof
  • release as open-source hardware devices based on the original designer’s design files or derivatives thereof
Manufacturers of a derivative device must not:
  • imply that the device is manufactured, tested, warrantied, guaranteed, or otherwise sanctioned by the original designer
  • make use of any trademarks owned by the original designer without explicit permission
  • We also recognize that open-source is only one way of sharing information about hardware and encourage and support all forms of openness and collaboration, whether or not they fit this definition.
Do you agree with this definition?

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

Leave a comment