[Discuss] discuss Digest, Vol 9, Issue 15

Chris Church thisdroneeatspeople at gmail.com
Fri Mar 1 00:44:49 UTC 2013

On Feb 28, 2013, at 5:12 PM, Tom Igoe wrote:

> The folks I'm thinking of (3 cases) make toys or puzzle-like things for kids, and espouse open source ideals pretty heavily. But they've also found that if they open source their mechanical designs, they face much higher liability insurance premiums than if they do not.   They have to have Consumer Product Safety Commission approval, and they run afoul of that if someone comes to them and says "My kid swallowed a part made with your design". With the manufacturing in-house, they can ensure quality control, and with the designs closed, they can't be told that they bear liability for someone else's works.

Internally here, we call this an "Attribution Problem," and it's one that no license can resolve.  It's a liability that may be defensible in court, but the primary damage is done long before court comes to be. When you have a clone of a well-known (within the specific market) product, the customer tends to attribute any failings of the clone with the original.  

What I've often heard in OSHW discussions is that a license which doesn't allow commercial cloning of the product would prevent that product from being "fully open-source," which seems to leave anyone selling retail products (I don't mean PCBs to hackers) fully exposed to the attribution problem.  I'd sleep a lot better at night if there were an inverse of CC-BY-ND, like CC-BY-SA-DO (Derivatives Only) and share absolutely everything if it were to be. 


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