A culture of ethics in open source hardware? by Ian Lesnet (DangerousPrototypes).
The recent case that caught my attention was a bunch of folks from USA who cloned a certain project of a Russian hacker and started a Kickstart project for it. They credited the author of the original and they claim that they have redesigned it and not just copied the design.
Here's the article on HaD:
Somehow it still does not feel right to me. I'm having trouble defining why exactly I do not like it, technically they're not really doing anything wrong.
The Dark Boxes are coming.
I saw that article the other day. It's a commentary to the original article here:
The problem that I see, is that while it's nice to have a set of "rules" for ethical behavior around open source hardware, the fact is that one will run into people who don't respect those ethics. What do you do then? What is your recourse, if any? If it's not spelled out in the license, then you have no legal recourse. And even then, there may still be no remedy when you're dealing with globalization, like between the US and Russa, as svofski pointed out above.
Thanks for the original article Eric. Going to read it later.
I don't really know what's tickling me about this LED-ball case. Maybe if I could read Nikolai's side of the story somewhere I'd relax, but I don't really see anything about this.
I come more from a software-centric point of view; copying and modifying is very common in the software world. Perhaps too common maybe. I see that the hardware guys aren't necessarily used to that.
Strangely, I've found over the years, that because software is intangible, that somehow it's more invisible to people. Hardware is certainly a lot more tangible, and people react differently to it, like in this case of copying and modifying (or not, as the case may be).
As a side note, it's a cool-looking project. :)
So what do we want? Government regulation of our creative activities? Without government oversight, there will be occasional abuses. With government oversight there will be no opportunities, abusive or not.
That is a pretty slick project.
Don't grow up! It's a trap!
I don't think that anyone was seriously advocating government oversight / regulation. Especially, it only goes so far with respect to globalization, e.g. US - Russia, US - China, etc. I think the only alternative is to to have closed source hardware.
Emerging Open Hardware Ecosystems by Erik de Bruijn.
The key is that open source is self policing. My take: naivete^2.
I'm doing all my stuff as open source, but I fully expect it to be ripped off. The only other options are closed source and get ripped off, or get a patent and get ripped off and lose your savings fighting it in court which will only benefit some lawyers. Might as well leave it open in the vain hope that someone in the process of ripping it off will at least improve the design and you can do a counter rip.
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Not planning to go as far as "Open Source" on my grand idea that will probably never amount to anything, but on publishing enough info that others could make things that work with it.
Surely it depends on whether you expect to make money from something. If you do, then you don't open-source it. If it's original enough, you can patent it. If you're famous enough, your name is the value-added. Personally, I do a lot of little projects in my spare time and I don't give a rat's ass if I make money off them. The designing is the thing, and after I've made one I lose interest. For some of them I've published the code and even the PCB artwork. The funny thing is, as a result of that I have people asking to buy them from me, the same things I've given away for free. My take on that is that the best "legal" protection, on a small scale anyway, is to be the guy that already makes something. Sure if it's a big success someone else may come in who can make it on a larger scale or cheaper, but for most people it's not worth the trouble, and if anyone wants to copy my stuff on a hobbyist scale that's grounds for pride, not resentment.
Thanks for the link to this presentation!
This is very similar to the stuff that I've been seeing at the Maker Faires (in the Bay Area and NY) that I've been to over the last year.
Open source hardware and copy-cats always reminds me of the automobile business.
In never ceases to amaze me how very similar the SUVs, cross-overs, sports cars, etc., tend to look even though they are made by different companies.
Re: the LED-ball, it's only the idea that got ripped off. It's not like they copypasted the design from file to file, physically. They just didn't invent anything new and started to sell someone else's idea. When the chinese do it, we normally frown and grind teeth. But it appears that, at least according to Hackaday, when the westerners do it, it's perfectly okay and deserves a mention in the news.
Generally I agree that publish ==> get ripped, that's how it works and that's what I'm expecting too. Still, I guess it's the sudden transition from a naÃ¯ve free-for-all project to a commercial one that makes me feel uncomfortable. I've yet to see someone selling crap I have designed, so far I've been wise to only make useless stuff :D
Originally I thought that Open Hardware is a nice idea. I didn't recognize that it was a cunning plan to profit on naivety, abusing similarity with "open source". Now I wouldn't ever use this word combination to describe any of my projects, even though they are just like that -- take it all for free and have fun. But now it has become a trademark of those who make their living by replicating and selling stuff other people have designed. I'm not sure why I should support this, at all? Friendly exchange of knowledge and ideas among hobbyists is one thing, ripping off their designs and selling them while patting the authors on the back, "this is open hardware son, come on, we credit you on the silkscreen next to this awesome logo you have voted for", somehow feels completely different.
@peret re: expecting to make money, it's a complex subject. Expecting to make money from actually making stuff in Russia is rather hard. In USA I figure it's a little bit easier because the laws are generally business-friendly, so if you can count you can at least expect no surprises. Besides there are plenty of people willing to pay for stuff and there's a well working post office that delivers good reliably and quickly, all of this helps a lot, I believe. I don't really rule out that Nikolai expected, but couldn't, while those other guys could. Real life, I know, probably fair too, but I don't have to like it.
Pffft I didn't really expect myself to produce a rant this long. Sorry for that.
The key is that open source is self policing.
... get a patent ...
Surely it depends on whether you expect to make money from something. If you do, then you don't open-source it.
I don't really know what's tickling me about this LED-ball case.
In intellectual property law, there's this thing called a "design patent" that covers this sort of case, where there is no "invention" to speak of, and copyright doesn't apply, but there are original aspects to the "design." And there are rules in music that permit anyone to do a "cover" of someone elses song under specific terms (even if they do it badly.) And rights to parody. And etc. But that doesn't mean that everyone will like the "re-make"...
(You know, when the "maker community" does this the other way around, and makes a kit/DIY version of an existing commercial product, that's usually seen as a good thing. But dispassionately, it doesn't seem any different...)
Why you really shouldnâ€™t steal source code by Nigel Jones.
Fortunately for me everything I use is so simple that the algorithms are all ancient and public domain. But this does spook me a bit going forward if I start messing with Linux on ARMs and inadvertently use some black box for WiFi or whatever and it turns out to be partially stolen. Frankly the whole software licensing thing strikes me as fundamentally crazy. I once used the following license for my code:
If you use this software it will destroy whatever machine you use it on and kill anyone in a one-kilometer radius. So donâ€™t even consider using it for any reason whatsoever! Have a nice day.
by not having a 'real' license I, by default, had copyrighted my code and it couldn't be used so I now use the new BSD license.
There are gobs and gobs of embedded software where the license used doesn't actually match the stated intent. (for instance, most Arduino libraries are supposed to be usable in proprietary products, but have a GPL license attached, by people who presumably didn't really understand why those don't match very well.) As long as things are ruled by the intent of the original authors, the situation is probably livable. But I dread the day when the first group of "OSSL Trolls" turns up...
but have a GPL license attached, by people who presumably didn't really understand why those don't match very well.
I think my original "Wantimes" program for synchronizing netware file server clocks was labeled: "Copyleft 19xx. All wrongs deserved." I didn't publish the source, but enjoyed the wide distribution of the .exe.
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