[Discuss] OSHW Best Practices / Layers of Openness
mperry at pensanyc.com
Wed Feb 27 03:47:24 UTC 2013
Long time listener, first time commenter.
A few semi-organized thoughts and opinions.
- A license has legal implications that are not enforceable, which is no
good, but a social contract alone seems weak. What you want is a
Certification from a governing body that is not the US government - i.e.
OSHW, akin to an UL or LEED certification.
- OSHW Certification can be either an approved application from experts
or self-certified. I believe you're better off with self-certified, while
OSHWA retains the right to revoke the certification at any time for any
reason (to protect the certification brand value). If it is self-certified,
then it's cheaper for OSHWA, faster, and easier to adopt. Plus, in keeping
with the spirit of openess, the community can speak out if someone is
improperly using the label, and I have no fear the community will smell BS
a mile away. If enough people complain, OSHWA can pull the certification.
Not to mention, a community police is more flexible vs a certification
committee will be burdened by lengthy nuanced definition of what is or is
- OSHWA can decide whether to charge for the OSHW label for use on
products, packaging, advertising, etc., either by each use (per
product/sku, or one-time charge), or by scaled fees by company size (eg.
over $1MM annual sales, over 50 people, etc), or no charge at all with a
strong suggested donation to keep the torch alive. The more free, the more
adoption you will have.
- For products, an OSHW Certification label must have a brand value that
adds a positive halo to a manufacturer's own branded product - think
American Dental Assoc. on toothpaste, FSC on wood, LEED on buildings. If
OSHW Certification is meaningless ("all natural" on food labels), tarnished
(think MSC for
or too small to be recognized, then it will become irrelevant. This means,
you have to treat it like it is its own brand, that needs protection,
promotion, adoption by leaders, strong advocates with conviction that speak
to its cause, and so on. You already have a lot of these attributes among
the existing community, and it will be stronger if the average joe also
knows what OSHW stands for. Imagine if a large retailer demands products
must be OSHW certified, much like Home Depot insisting their wood is FSC
certified, then OSHWA will have an influence.
- While layering "openness" can be too complex, and one-size-fits-all
certification seems too broad and unfair. You might consider simply an
"open" and "limited open" self certification (like LGPL). The latter simply
states that while a majority of my thing is open, parts of it that I
created, I am keeping closed. If people improperly state things are all
open, then the community will surely speak out. It is, in the end, a social
contract with the community.
- One way to consider "limited open." If a thing that I make is open,
but it also contains parts that I sourced from others that are not open
(e.g. chips, sub-assemblies, mechanical components, software), then my
creation should still be considered open. Anyone can make the exact same
thing by sourcing the same parts. If, on the other hand, parts of my thing
are my (or my company's) patentable invention and we are keeping those
parts closed, then it's "limited open." For example - I make a cnc machine,
and I sourced motors and chips that are closed, but anyone is free to buy
those same components or swap them out, then I would consider that open. If
I produce chips, and patent them, and put them on a board design that is
open, that's limited. That's no different than if I made a closed, patented
mechanical sub-assembly that I include in a robot arm, whose design is
- The other elements to a certification that are worth considering as
optional features are the same ones seen on the Creative Commons. It would
be important to me to have a OSHW Certifications, with options for
attribution (BY), no derivatvies (ND), Share Alike (SA), Non-Commercial
(NC). These address the motivations of why I would consider or not consider
open sourcing. There may be other options, but those seem to cover most
- Lastly - the easier it is to adopt, the more the certification will be
adopted. When I first open sourced code, I was super happy to find the easy
to read CC website, and the plain english explanation, drop-down menu
options, and logo artwork in different formats. And, it also included
example wording, legalese version etc. It was so easy to fit in my
workflow, that I used it versus other options (including not opening it all
to save on the fuss). For first timers - its relatively intimidating to be
open, especially for hardware. A nice website, with testimonials and
endorsements by others, a community you can ask questions, and so on, would
Hope this adds to the conversation meaningfully,
marco perry . principal, pensa
20 jay st., suite 800, brooklyn, ny 11201
p 718-855-5354 . blog.pensanyc.com <http://www.pensanyc.com/> .
www.pensanyc.com . @thinkpensa
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On Tue, Feb 26, 2013 at 12:51 PM, alicia <amgibb at gmail.com> wrote:
> Via a conversation started offlist, we're discussing best practices to
> clarify the oshw definition. The conversation was started by Catarina Mota
> and Tom Igoe, first about a layering graphic similar to creative commons
> and Phil Torrone's Layers of licensing<http://www.ladyada.net/library/openhardware/whatisit.html>post. Please view Tom's post below asking for how you currently use the
> logo and whether your usage has changed in the past 2 years?
> I also raised some questions that we get through OSHWA:
> - I plan to release the files in 3/6/12 months, can still use the open
> source hw logo?
> - Can I use the oshw logo if my project is only partially open source?
> - How do I or will OSHWA approach a company who has the open source hw
> logo on their boards but no files?
> - Must supplier details be given to use the oshw logo?
> - Can I use the oshw logo on my product if I am using
> a proprietary enclosure from another company, but the insides are mine?
> - This movement feels like you're leaving out mechanical designs /
> architecture / nanotech, how can I interpret your definition to include my
> projects? (This comes to us a lot, which perhaps prompted Catarina to start
> exploring a space that would better include them.)
> - Can I release some of the software for a license, like a pro version, or
> does that go against Free Redistribution, or is it okay because of clause
> 12 in the definition?
> - What are the best practices for releasing a piece of open source
> hardware and its documentation under the definition?
> - Can I directly copy open source hardware (sans trademark), the oshw
> definition says 'yes', but articles on oshw have a resounding 'no'.
> - Is a different economic model (selling hw for cheaper or more expensive)
> enough to call copied hardware a derivative?
> On Tue, Feb 26, 2013 at 6:32 AM, Tom Igoe <ti8 at nyu.edu> wrote:
>> To me, the original topic, layering the definition in order to describe
>> OSHW products in detail was about best practices for applying the
>> definition. So I'm not sure you're hijacking the topic at all. If the
>> general consensus is that layering is a bad way to put the definition into
>> practice, then I think it makes sense to switch gears and talk about ways
>> that it's currently being put into practice.
>> We've talked about the definition as a social norm rather than a legal
>> document, and that seems to be the general consensus. So let's talk about
>> how the definition is currently put into practice. From there, maybe we
>> can get to what best practices are. Perhaps best to throw it out to
>> The definition's been in place since February 2011. What are the best
>> examples of how it's been put in practice since then, and how has it
>> changed what you do?
>> Once we have a few of those on the table, we'll have a better sense of
>> what everyone's practice is, and can discuss the best of that.
> discuss mailing list
> discuss at lists.oshwa.org
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