[Discuss] discuss Digest, Vol 9, Issue 32

Matt Maier blueback09 at gmail.com
Fri Mar 1 00:07:06 UTC 2013

Well...the way I see it requires backing up a bit. It seems like the
proprietary model came first. Entities that made profit a top priority got
laws created that protected their ability to enforce rules about how the
things they created got used by others. To oversimplify a bit, that model
seeks to maximize cost to the consumer. Then the free software guys came
along and flipped copyright on its head. Rather than use it to forbid
anyone from doing anything with it, they used copyright to forbid anyone
from forbiding anyone from doing anything with it. To oversimplify again,
that model seeks to minimize cost to the consumer.

Those two models are incompatible because they seek to maximize or minimize
the same thing. They will always be in direct opposition to each other.
 Open source emerged as a compromise between the two. The compromise was
achieved by ignoring money. Open source focuses on the best possible
technical solution and then lets the issue of who gets to do what when and
how work itself out on a case-by-case basis. That's why open source grew so
much faster than libre, because it is compatible with self-sustaining
business models.

But that means that open source sits in the middle; it's a compromise. It's
a place that entities worried about making money and entities worried about
preserving freedom can meet on common ground. Open source is an umbrella
that covers different approaches. It's not possible to define one approach
that will satisfy everyone.

Open source will always be a continuum from one extreme (libre) to another
(proprietary). The two camps can be united by their common pursuit of
technical excellence, but they will always be divided by their differing
top priorities.

I don't see it as a question of what each entity needs so much as what each
entity makes their top priority. An individual is just playing with their
hobby. They don't have to make it sustainable. A business (of any size) has
to do something that at least pays for itself.

The legal questions do need a lot more work, and I also hope that the
system actively protects people who want to innovate in the open. I don't
see any reason why someone who releases an open blueprint should be liable
for the harm someone else brings to themselves when they try to follow it.
As far as I'm concerned if it is labeled as "in development" then anyone
who works on it is a developer who is taking their own risks. But we do
live in a litigious society, so I dunno. At least most of the work is
getting done by individuals and small businesses who aren't really worth
suing cuz they don't have much.


> Message: 4
> Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 18:28:52 -0500
> From: Tom Igoe <tom.igoe at gmail.com>
> To: The Open Source Hardware Association Discussion List
>         <discuss at lists.oshwa.org>
> Subject: Re: [Discuss] discuss Digest, Vol 9, Issue 29
> Message-ID: <DE9B324A-1337-47C8-83CD-1B6BBC2D5CFA at gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
> Can you clarify this a bit Matt?
> On Feb 28, 2013, at 5:39 PM, Matt Maier wrote:
> > For one standard to catch on it would have to be valuable to an awful
> lot of different entities with different goals and different contexts. I
> suspect that's not going to happen. Why? Because...
> >
> >
> > It's clear that the needs of businesses are different than the needs of
> individuals, and I think most of the resultant thread(s) are on their way
> to establishing what businesses can do.
> >
> > Cameron
> > ...of this question. We've already identified two groups with obviously
> different needs. Businesses have to pull in at least enough money to cover
> their costs and risks; individuals don't.
> What *do* individuals need?  The minute you  start selling something, you
> face the same risks and liabilities and opportunities as any other
> business,  Even if you put something out there publicly for someone else to
> use, you face the liabilities, unless you state the conditions under which
> you approve use of your design, and the limit of your responsibilities for
> that use.
> Ideally, I'd like to see a definition *and* legal instruments that support
> individuals who choose to do either of these things (publish and sell, or
> publish and not sell), so that they have access to the same privileges and
> protections as any size business.
> > The need to generate a certain level of profit has to override other
> priorities. If it doesn't the business will simply disappear. If being
> "totally open" conflicts with "minimally profitable" then profit will have
> to win. Individuals can try to coerce and encourage businesses to be as
> open as possible, but at the end of the day their priorities are
> fundamentally different.
> So what are individuals' priorities and needs in an OSHW definition? What
> will an individual use it for, other than debate?
> t.
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