[Discuss] Open Source Sausage?

Michael Weinberg mweinberg at publicknowledge.org
Mon Oct 7 16:58:40 UTC 2013

I'm also glad to see this discussion and I'd like to volunteer some of our
resources here at Public Knowledge to help.  I will not pretend that we
have deep expertise on export control or food safety regulation (IP and
communications is more of our cup of tea), but since we are operating here
in DC we do have a more generic "interfacing with regulators and
government" expertise that should be helpful.

Also we are (and I am) a lawyer so may be able to help on some of the
details.  Again, there is definitely some space between "lawyer" and
"lawyer in any way qualified to discuss the intricacies of export control
regimes" but to the extent we have area-useful expertise we can certainly

Finally, one of the areas that we do know quite well is the FCC.  As I
mentioned briefly at OHS, we're happy to facilitate a dialogue with the FCC
(and advocate in support of OSHW) about various licensing issues to the
extent that people are interested.


On Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 12:19 PM, Matt Maier <blueback09 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Under the question "*what license should I use*" the last sentence says "*Licenses
> that prevent non-commercial use are not compatible with open-source" *should
> that say "...*licenses that prevent commercial use*..." or maybe "...*licenses
> that include a non-commercial clause*...?"
> Some other topics the "*How does open-source hardware interact with
> hardware regulations*" answer could mention would be:
> * FCC - there are a lot of circuit boards out there that really should
> meet some kind of standard, but it's easy to fly under the radar when a
> project is small-ish and the technology moves fast.
> * Drones - at the moment there just aren't many regulations covering this
> technology, but that means the OSHW community has a chance to help
> influence regulations when they're created
> * warranties - open hardware projects tend not to prioritize safety and/or
> warranty-ability. The general assumption is that the builder takes their
> life in their own hands. But, as the FAQ section on non-commercial
> explains, it's hard to really make open hardware work without commercial
> activity, which creates a buyer-seller relationship, which brings at least
> some of the vast scope of contract law into play.
> * food - stuff that we eat is hardware, and the open source approach is
> growing in that domain. There are a lot of regulations controlling the
> creation and distribution of food.
> * children - there are a lot of regulations to protect children, which is
> important because the STEM/learning/teaching/creating nature of open
> hardware naturally leads a lot of people to want to share it with kids.
> Additionally, there are (currently) limits to the practical utility and
> or payback period of open hardware projects, which means many of them focus
> on toy or entertainment type goals.  At the end of the day kids are often
> users, or potential users, of open hardware.
> * health care - another area that the open source approach is inflitrating
> is the medical domain. Health care is pretty much synonymous with
> regulation.
> * export control - the FAQ already touches on this, but it's worth
> explaining that open source directly contradicts export control, so the
> non-discrimination requirements of open source can't be met on certain
> subjects. Granted, those subjects are kind of far out there (rockets,
> satellites, guns, etc) but it's easy to find examples of open source
> projects in those areas, and activity will only increase in the future.
> On Sun, Oct 6, 2013 at 12:19 PM, David A. Mellis <dam at mellis.org> wrote:
>> I added a simple question and answer to the end of the OSHW FAQ:
>> http://www.oshwa.org/faq/. But there's a lot more to say, I know, so
>> suggestions welcome.
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Michael Weinberg, Vice President, PK Thinks
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