[Discuss] interview with Bruce Perens

Antoine, as a contact of a free smallwindturbine project smallwindturbineproj.contactor at gmail.com
Fri Jun 13 14:16:12 UTC 2014

Hello Matt, Javier, Bruce and all,

The content of this interesting pleasant reading you share with us, Matt -
an article saying that Bruce Perens maybe said one day - , make me think I
might share with you the following set of questions I still have, quiet
aligned with this relevant content pointed by Bruce into the article:

1. DEFINITION : What is include in the definition of "Hardware" here ?
(anything tangible ? only electronic and computer ?)
2. PUBLIC DOMAIN: One innovative hardware, by design or by technic, using
only public domain components newly assembled or used, should it be covered
by an OHL ?
3. PROLIFERATION: should OHL licences doers, try to work together under a
same umbrella structure, to propose a set of a maximum 3 or 5 different
licences for "hardware" each covering different uses - as CC, or as GPL and
LGPL etc ... - , but being certain that all configuration of use will be
well covered ? (or is it a dream to think to reach an entire covering)
4. LOCAL CULTURE: should OHL doers and OSHW people organise a feedback from
any local culture around the world, getting which social transformations
will OHL create locally - ie versus copyright introduction into their
social equilibrium
5. FREE LIBRE: Free Libre and OpenSource terms, play(ed) "cat and mouse"
game in Software sector, should this happen again in Hardware , ( if so,
should we ask to Tom and Jerry how they manage this ;-) ? )
6. ONE NEUTRAL OHL UMBRELLA STRUCTURE: should we try to home OHL licences
under one neutral umbrella structure ?

>From my point of view, the answers of those questions could help to answer
to the questions pointed by the article.


2014-06-13 11:25 GMT+02:00 Javier Serrano <Javier.Serrano at cern.ch>:

> On 06/12/2014 11:33 PM, Matt Maier wrote:
> > It turns out that we have a group of people at CERN, and one of my
> > favorite lawyers and Yahoo, and even me, trying to add restrictions to
> > something that is, for the most part, already in the public domain. And
> > it came to me that this was backwards, and that we could be working
> > against our own interest that way.
> When Bruce writes, I always read carefully. I have learned a lot from
> him. In the copyleft mindset of those working on CERN OHL development,
> restrictions are introduced only (hopefully) insofar as they are needed
> to ensure that some other (worse) restrictions are not imposed on
> recipients of the designs. Quoting from the GPL text: "To protect your
> rights, we need to prevent others from denying you these rights or
> asking you to surrender the rights. Therefore, you have certain
> responsibilities if you distribute copies of the software, or if you
> modify it: responsibilities to respect the freedom of others." Of
> course, there is a very legitimate non-copyleft mindset too. People can
> choose to use a non-copyleft license in that case. And putting things in
> the public domain (which you need to do explicitly since most documents
> are copyrighted by default) might be the best option for some. I think
> it's good that people with different sensibilities have legal tools to
> accomplish what they want.
> > We all get to use the vast body of electronic designs that we've read
> > about in magazines since the dawn of ham radio. Now, imagine if those
> > were suddenly copyrighted and under enforceable licenses.
> In my understanding, the circuit diagrams on magazines *are* copyrighted
> insofar as they contain a non-negligible creative component, which is
> usually the reason why they are published to begin with. You can of
> course take an idea from them and do your own thing. That does not
> infringe copyright. And you can do exactly the same from a diagram
> licensed under Solderpad, CERN OHL or TAPR OHL. I would actually feel
> safer in these latter cases because then I'd know that the creator of
> the diagram has promised not to sue me with any patents (s)he might
> possess related to the design in question.
> > The problem is that when we start licensing things that are actually in
> > the public domain, we create norms that the courts take seriously. And
> > they start enforcing licenses on things that could not be licensed
> > before. We really can write new law when what we do gets to a court
> > case, and we want to be careful what law that is. If we were responsible
> > for taking hardware designs from public domain to copyrighted status,
> > we'd be shooting ourselves in the foot.
> This is very troubling indeed. I initially had this very naive view that
> relevant laws are pre-existent to any license you write and that there
> is no way licenses can create new law. When Bruce (and Andrew Katz and
> Carlo Piana if I remember well) mentioned this on the CERN OHL mailing
> list, I found it very worrying. So yes, I completely agree we need to be
> careful. In particular when we explore ways in which copyright could
> help us achieve things we could not enforce in the past. One example is
> our effort to maximize the chances that someone receiving a piece of
> hardware can find the design documents for it. This is based on Eli
> Greenbaum's idea of embedding a URL in the object itself, and the
> assumption that taking that URL off the design documents would infringe
> copyright. It is new territory, and there is indeed a risk that we end
> up contributing to somebody else's effort to extend the reach of
> copyright. In this particular case, I don't think we are pushing for
> anything that copyright did not cover already, but you never know 100%.
> So it's good to do this in public and take constructive criticism from
> Bruce and others. I think OSHW licensing is still in a
> laboratory-of-ideas phase.
> > So, for a while I was uncomfortable with my own Open Hardware
> > evangelism. Was I doing the right thing? I think I've worked out the
> > right path now and will be warning the community about this issue.
> I look forward to more concrete thoughts on the type of new restrictions
> and risks he is thinking about. I can kind of see the point but it's a
> bit abstract so far.
> Thanks for the very interesting read. Cheers,
> Javier
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