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Maker's License? Answered

I have a few Instructables I'm working on - none posted yet - but i'm debating on what would be the best licensing...

On the simple project, I'm going to go with the Creative Commons (attribution, share-alike) license.

The other project is a different creature - I'm looking at creating a general purpose widget - then others can adapt the widget to their specific use. To get others involved in adapting the widget, i would start a contest here and offer a prize to the best adapted (or 'remixed') widget.

Here's the dilemma that haunts me a little...

1) A man or women that is 17 years old adapts the widget to fulfill a need that many people can use. Everyone is happy. Then, 6 months later, their adapted widget is being sold at the local hardware store. Great! Except that the Maker isn't getting any kind of design fee for the commercial product - and could have used that money to help with their college expenses...

2) A man or women that is 67 years old adapts the widget that becomes the 'must have' item for seniors. This time it's being sold on QVC and being promoted in AARP magazine. Great! Except that the Maker isn't getting any kind of design fee for the commercial product - and could have used that money to help with health expenses...

As for me - i'm looking at only attribution for the general purpose widget and waive any kind of design fee for commercial use for myself...BUT -

If someone designs and makes an adaptive widget that really takes off - then i would like them to get credit and at least reap a little fiscal reward for their blood, sweat, and tears that they put into it if it takes off as a huge commercial success.

Again - just attribution for me (it's a general purpose widget!) - the thoughtfulness in making comes from adapting it to a specific use - it's fun - but it takes work too.

When i get ready to post - I was thinking of a...

Makers License

1) Attribution, share alike, I waive any and all commercial fees for the general purpose widget
2) Remix Fee:

a) Remix Makers fee: You can build a Remix Design for yourself - however - if you intend to sell the remix to others then a remix fee applies. The remix fee to the author is limited to $1.00 per item you sell. Contact Author for fee arrangement before selling.


b) Remix Maker waives all fees.

I don't know - am i over thinking this?
Any help, advice, or suggestions - Please Post!

Thank You,



One way to "force" this would be to just use CC by-nc-sa (non commercial!) and make it clear that you'll authorize anyone who *does* want to sell a deviation, as long as it is under CC by-nc-sa again.

However, that being said, if you release something under CC by-sa, a derivative work can be licesenced under CC by-nc-sa, since it is a compatible license.

Hi Zachnine, I think Attribution-Share Alike is the best way to go - it allows for commercial use - But here's whats rubbing me - how do i pay the Remix Designer for the design of the modified widget? If i understand the Creative Commons license correctly - even if i choose to make it and sell it locally - i don't have to pay the Designer anything... I don't feel right doing that. Basically - all i'm looking at for myself is Attribution for the general purpose widget. Share Alike just ensures anyone that adapts it to a specific use share it with the community - great so far... But some one comes up with a really outstanding adaptation that i would have never thought of on my own - I want to build and sell it at the local open market - and i also want to give some kind of 'bonus' payment to the Designer since i'm making sales off their adaptation. If i'm making sales due to their creativity and insight of a specific use design - shouldn't i try to share some of that wealth with them? Don't they deserve just a little bit of a 'bonus'? I've put myself in a pickle here... The only thing i think might work is some kind of Honor System - if i make sales off of their great design then i send them a 'bonus'. 'Bonus' might be the best way to put it - if i make sales on your design - i give you a bonu$... I don't think that would be hard to do - what do you think? Best regards, -MM

If you want someone to pay you when they use/modify your work, choose the CC by-nc-sa. Under it, they cannot sell anything based on your work without your permission. There's an understanding, however, that IF they want to sell it, they can contact you and work out a deal. The tricky thing about licensing is that you can have a sub-license it to different people. By publishing on instructables, for example, you allow instructables to make money off your project (through advertising).

Hi Zachnine, I wasn't looking to be paid for use/modify - I was looking to pay for the modification if I were to sell it locally. In any case - looks like i'll just keep it really simple and issue a CC:Attribution, Share Alike on it ... which keeps it wide open for make for yourself (non-commercial) or make & sell locally (commercial)- remix designers won't be getting any kind of 'bonus'. Hey , thank you for your insight! Best regards, -MM

If you think it's worth money look at patent protection. Then consider that you can't afford it, and similarly you couldn't afford to protect the widget against commercial exploitation with or without. Share it for free or keep it to yourself to spite those who would cash-in on it otherwise. L

Hi Lemonie, Thanks for the responding. I've looked at patenting for some of my projects (energy related) - even going so far as to write out a complete patent draft - and then decided that project will be better served as open source. That will get it widely distributed - and - we need to switch to renewables as soon as possible, in my opinion, and patenting just gets in the way and is more trouble than its worth in that case... But here - i think most people are honest - and wouldn't have a problem paying a dollar to a Remix Maker for selling the item based on their adapted design. Here's another way I'm looking at this: Designer/Makers: People that come up with really cool and neat products and show others how to make them is a Designer. Makers are the DIY's that use such a Design and make it for their own use - and then you have ... Fabbers: They take the design - produce it - then sell it. This could be as local as a DIY that sells the item at the local farmers market or the big production shop that sells the item at a much larger scale. As a Designer - i have no problem showing people how to make stuff here for their own use. As a maker - i like coming here to look at others Designs and making them for myself... But as a Fabber - i wouldn't feel right taking a design here, then making it locally to sell locally - and not giving the Designer some kind of fee. I have a conscience and just fell that wouldn't be right. After all, if it wasn't for the designer - i wouldn't be able to make and sell their design locally. And there are numerous great designs here - both large and small. As for the general purpose widget i'm working on - people could easily adapt it to a wide number of specific uses - some i probably would never come up with on my own... If it proves to be a popular 'remix' (adaptation) - and i want to build and sell it locally - then i want to be able to give the designer their fair share... It just seems like the right thing to do... (oboy - I am overthinking this, aren't I?) - I just want to do right by the designer... -MM

If you don't reasonably expect someone to steal and profit from it you'll be fine with what you suggest, I just observe that actively protecting intellectual property is expensive. Some people would give you a cut, but this is the internet and it's full of pirates... Any change of collaborating with someone to get things produced? Anyway, I'd be interested to see it regardless. L

Hi Lemonie, Again, thanks for taking an interest - it's helping to nail this idea about license down. Q: Any change of collaborating with someone to get things produced? A: I'm not sure what your referring to. If you mean the instructable that i'm using the creative commons license with - (the simple project) - it's a bicycle stand. If your referring to the 'widget' instructable - (for the remix contest) that design is done and i'm pursuing two different ways of making it. for both these projects - i'm dotting every 'i' and crossing every 't' and double checking my work before i post... I'm not looking for a cut for the general purpose widget - I'm looking at and willing to pay a fee to the author of a remixed widget someone designed for a specific use - if i decide I'd like to make and sell it locally. Hmmm - maybe i should start a group along with the contest for the remix? I'll post the bicycle stand first. But it may be another month before i post the 'widget'. I'm looking forward to seeing how you might adapt it for your own use. Thanks for the insight - best regards, -MM

(I don't have a bike, but it would be good to see.) With regard to the other things, stuff I post is given away, I don't really attach value to it. I can see other people doing stuff that might be valuable, but they either develop it themselves or don't think about it. This site doesn't make it easy to collect contributions, it's a free-to-all sort of thing. W/ref collaboration, I meant teaming up with someone to turn these ideas into the products you might expect to sell. That is to find the person who will make these and give you 1$ an item? L

Hi Lemonie,

That is a good question:

"W/ref collaboration, I meant teaming up with someone to turn these ideas into the products you might expect to sell. That is to find the person who will make these and give you 1$ an item?"

I think were on the same page - just looking at different ends of that page.
I have found a great resource that i really want to see succeed that kind of does this - it will make your design for you on cnc equipment - to be posted in my 'widget' instructable.

I'm trying to figure out an equitable way to link that fabrication resource to the design resource here - another reason that my 'widget' project will be another month in making to get all the ducks in row...

Designers here that remix the widget could then easily contact a fabricator there to make it for them - a 'one off' - and they respect the Designer's rights - they don't own the design - they just make it to your design...

On the other hand - i don't want the 'widget' to just be cnc only - so i'll be posting how to make it with the tools most makers readily have available.

I'm not really looking at making products just to sell, per say - I guess i'm trying to figure out how to open up the possibility - here - if a design proves really popular and can be made and sold locally - essentially, Instructables makes the knowledge global - but the making itself is still tied to locality.

Which opens up new possibilities for both local makers/fabricators and local designers. It's kind of a cycle between the two resulting in a global reach (many thanks to Instructables for that).

For some of my designs - i'll have my own website and offer plans - because the nature of the making requires very detailed and lengthy plans.

Having said that - there are still some decent designs (like the bike stand) that can easily and quickly be shared here.

I guess the design dictates the process for making - so to speak.

As a Fabricator - i don't want to just steal someones design from here - make and then sell it locally without paying some kind of Designer's fee. (Note: I'll be doing Creative Commons licence here too - I call that 'a gift to the community' - do with it what you will).

But on a really good design that's popular and useful anyone posts here without a creative commons license, then i would like to have the opportunity, with a clean conscience, to pay my $1 fee per item sold to the author in order to make and sell the item locally.

It requires trust - a small leap of a faith - and overall - just good old fashioned ethical practices.

Some of the designs posted here may not have mass appeal to a mass market - but they definitely have a great deal of appeal to local clients or a niche market.


I think GinnyL makes great costumes. Her videos are very clear and straight forward on how to make such costumes. Holloween is just around the corner - I decide i'm going to make 10 of her costume designs and sell them locally.

Word gets out at the local indoor market and suddenly everyone wants one of these locally made costumes. I'm selling them for $40.00 a piece - i'm making them and selling them. But i didn't design them - and i don't have GinnyL's talent for just looking at a piece of clothing and turning it into a costume. Without her clearcut design - i wouldn't have sold any costumes because i wouldn't have been able to make them on my own alone.

After selling 25 costumes x $40.00 each = $1000.00 for me. I'm not so greedy that i can see i should at least pay $1.00 each to GinnyL for each costume sold. Why? So she can keep making great designs! I appreciate her design!

Now - $25.00 might not sound like much - but what if 100 other makers sew and sell locally and do the same? Now the $1.00 design fee earned for her becomes $2500.00. Not bad for her - not bad for the local makers. And pretty good for local clients. Makers want GinnyL to keep designing those great costumes.

I don't know - maybe this could develop into a new way to foster Pro Memberships. Design fee privileges for Pro Members only (half joking)???

I'll try some sort of experiment on this when i post the 'widget' project. It may succeed or it may fail. Looking to strike some kind of balance...

I have to try.


How about this-

Honor Fee System (experimental): If you're going to make and/or sell this design locally, then please donate one dollar for each item you sell.

(Add PayPal Donate Button)

Anybody have an suggestions or ideas?


I think plans on your own site are a good idea.

To take up your example (knowing it's a theoretical example) I'd make some observations that are generally true in a broad sense:

#1 You might sell at $40, but you'll not make $40 per unit.
#2 Finding out how to transmit the $25 and doing it may be difficult (esp. if the designer is overseas) other people might stick with the principle of intent but not actually do it.
#3 The site won't facilitate (unpleasant word) cash transactions for users.