Open-source Hardware License - creative commons-like license for stuff
Roey asked me about this issue in regards to his Universal Nut Sheller (from here):
"So we've figured out a way to make cheap molds anywhere in the world for the Universal Nut Sheller, http://www.instructables.com/id/EPNPAI9025EVYDUURQ/ our of concrete I'll be posting things as I go along. By the by, I was wondering if you guys had fully explored the legal issues dealing with these creative commons licences and technology. According to everything I'm aware of Creative Commons only applies to works that can be copyrighted. According to How Stuff Works: http://www.howstuffworks.com/question492.htm (admittedly not the best source) Copyrights are:
- Literary works
- Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
- Musical works
- Sound recordings
- Dramatic works
- Pantomimes and choreographic works
- Motion pictures and other audio-visual works
- Architectural works
I spoke to Jamie Love ( http://www.cptech.org/jamie/ ) about this and he told me that we need to get in contact with the folks that run Science Commons http://sciencecommons.org/ . Apparently their executive Director John Wilbanks also works for MIT. I've been trying but so far no luck. I'd be interested in hearing what you know about this area. I would love be wrong, it would be great if licencing our technology is as easy as picking a CC Licence, I'm just not sure that it is."
I forwarded the question along to Eric Steuer, the Creative Director of the Creative Commons, who said:
"A CC license can apply to the drawings and possibly the 3D shapes to the extent that the copyrightable elements are separable from the functional part, but there is no copyright in utilitarian designs - that stuff is better protected as a design patent (if it meets the threshold) and then he could apply a CC-like license to it...although given you only have patent rights by applying (as opposed to copyright that applies automatically) he could just not patent it and then everyone can use it..."
Recently, people over at tapr.org released drafts of open-source hardware licenses. I got the following message from Jonathan Kuniholm at Duke asking for comments on the drafts:
"I have spoken with each of you regarding our interest in the infrastructure for the sharing of hardware designs. An organization with its roots in amateur radio and open source software has released a draft of two open hardware licenses ( http://www.tapr.org/OHL ). I believe that the inspiration is primarily electronic hardware, but the concept addresses issues we have encountered in our work with The Open Prosthetics Project and its parent organization, the newly incorporated Shared Design Alliance.
We have been interested in the ways that we might protect those who choose to share designs for public good from the possibility of having those designs patented out from under them or otherwise removed from the public domain, as well as helping them avoid the cost and time delays of patent protection for efforts from which they are not trying to profit. These draft licenses also address liability issues, which are another can of worms. I would be interested to hear thoughts from folks more knowledgeable than I about the effectiveness and potential pitfalls of such measures, given the difference between the issues surrounding physical designs and patents (for which there is currently no open license option outside of patent-related measures), and those surrounding items traditionally protected by copyright, which can currently be released under Creative Commons or GNU licenses ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ , http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html , http://www.fsf.org/ ).
The TAPR folks have invited comment on their draft, and I think that this is as good an effort as I've seen so far. If you have interest or expertise in this area, please submit comments through the TAPR site, and please forward this to anyone else you know who may be interested."
This is obviously an issue at the very core of open-source hardware and Instructables, so I encourage you to take a look and tell us what you think.