[Discuss] Open Source Sausage?

Michael Weinberg mweinberg at publicknowledge.org
Thu Oct 10 19:46:44 UTC 2013

Thanks for the shout out Alicia.  As for the first question, I'm not quite
sure what you mean about how it works within regulation.  Are you talking
about regulation in general or specific regulation?  As a general matter,
just because something is not patented does not mean that it cannot be
regulated in some other way.  To pull from the original subject of this
chain, there isn't a patent on sausage, but there are plenty of regulations
geared towards making it safe to eat.  But I suspect that isn't what you
are asking, so let me know and I'll try my best to actually answer your

As for the tax break/waiver issue.  I think that you are right on the tax
break front.  Obviously Congress is in a .... not great position right now,
and part of the solution to being in a not great situation might be some
sort of tax reform.  Put that on top of the general challenge of securing a
specific tax break and I would guess that the odds of that one happening
anytime soon are pretty slim.

But the waiver is a bit more interesting.  Depending on  your ambition, I
think it is a totally reasonable goal to talk to regulators about creating
some sort of simplified process for OSHW.  We'll need to do a bit of
spadework first to identify the regulatory processes most relevant to OSHW,
but getting in and talking to folks shouldn't be too much of a challenge.


On Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 5:09 PM, Alicia Gibb <pip at nycresistor.com> wrote:

> OSHWA can absolutely offer a platform for resources and discussion on
> this. We've got forums ready to roll out as well, but we can set up a wiki
> too. We will have to set a clause on the wiki that if anything looks
> promotional for a for-profit company we will have to take it down, as the
> IRS would frown on a non-profit doing that sort of stuff, so please keep
> that in mind when sharing your case studies.
> I think something else OSHWA has been doing and intends to do more of is
> educating law makers and government departments on open hardware (at least
> in the US). We're currently at the they-may-have-heard-the-words-before
> phase. We have a long way to go with this type of education as cited by the
> last time I was in DC, Representative Watt of North Carolina inferred that
> open source hardware was unconstitutional. (Which is not the case but tells
> me they don't yet understand what open source is.) But the events Michael
> Weinberg hosts in DC around educating folks on open hardware have been
> successful and helps us interface with the people influencing these
> regulations.
> Michael, I have a question, as hardware is intrinsically open until
> someone patents it, how does that work within regulation to your knowledge?
> How would an unpatented piece of hardware deal with all this? I would
> assume we would deal with it the same way.
> Kipp spoke at the 2012 Summit about a government tax break for those doing
> open source hardware since sharing the innovation benefits society much
> more than a patent. But we've seen what a wreck congress is when talking
> about taxes.....  So I don't think they'll listen to anything along those
> lines for quite some time. But another possibility we could work on would
> be a waiver for oshw to waive the expense of the regulation process, that
> doesn't *sound* like something the government would do, but it would give
> them a chance to help small businesses.
> As for warranties, I think they are a good as a statement of expectation
> and transparency to the consumer, especially for things that doesn't
> require a government regulation. I point to Arduino's warranty often when I
> people are afraid to open source because of others suing them for the
> product not working, getting hurt from stuff, x, y, z. And of course people
> sue regardless of open or closed, warranty or regulation anyway, at least
> in the US.
> Matt: Thanks for the correction on the FAQ page, we'll fix that.
> Thanks,
> Alicia
> On Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 11:12 AM, Joel Murphy <joel at joelmurphy.net> wrote:
>> Great to see the subject of regulations under discussion.
>> I'm particularly invested in the medical/heath care area
>> www.pulsesensor.com
>> www.openbci.com
>> The Pulse Sensor is small and flying low, with disclaimers and 'for
>> entertainment purposes only' written all over it.
>> The OpenBCI project is smacking right up against 60601-1<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEC_60601> standards,
>> not to mention the FDA.
>> I've had to wade through a lot of misinformation to find some best
>> practice hard numbers to design around (how many kV isolation? creepage
>> distance? etc.). In the end, any electronic hardware that makes medical
>> claims has to pass a variety of stress tests and survive or break under
>> acceptable conditions. Each application is different, so attempting to
>> provide any advice beyond very general best practice is subject to
>> liability.... and some rules are not possible to follow when bits of
>> hardware all over the world.
>> The easiest thing to do is to avoid the safety issue by not getting
>> anywhere near to connecting to the mains...
>> Happy to share all I've learned on the OSHW Regulations Wiki. And help to
>> uncover some of the mystery.
>> 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.
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> discuss mailing list
>>> discuss at lists.oshwa.org
>>> http://lists.oshwa.org/listinfo/discuss
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