[Discuss] New Blog Post Up!

Ben Gray ben at phenoptix.com
Thu May 22 18:13:43 UTC 2014

Just on Matt's last point of politeness and social norms. In my experience
of open hardware these simply offer a way to close an object reported to be

Two of the three times I've asked permission to use an open project I've
been told I'd rather you didn't and just purchased instead. Therefore by my
politeness I've negated all benefit from said open projects, giving the
author a further chance to close the project via the back door so to speak.

Ben Gray
Via Mobile
On 22 May 2014 19:05, "Matt Maier" <blueback09 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Maybe I wasn't clear. What I meant was that the only area of law, other
> than contracts, which can regulate the practical physical artifact is
> patent law. Anything tangible which is useful, rather than just pretty,
> which is the area open source hardware is primarily interested in, is
> covered by patents or contracts.
> Contracts aren't attractive because they only apply between the two
> parties which entered into them.
> That leaves patents, which aren't relevant because they are so expensive
> and so specific.
> Open source hardware needs an area of law which allows for the same kind
> of cheap and broad coverage of copyright. But there's nothing we can "hack"
> to get that coverage (like copyleft) and there's nothing on the horizon.
> So I don't think legal discussions are going to find any traction on the
> hardware side of open source hardware. The software side is already well
> served by FLOSS licenses and the plans/instructions side is already covered
> by CC (apparently it has three sides).
> That only leaves the nebulous idea of politeness and cultural norms to
> enforce any kind of restraint on how to handle the hardware. At least,
> that's how I frame the situation.
> On Thu, May 22, 2014 at 11:56 AM, Jeffrey Warren <jeff at publiclab.org>wrote:
>>  >  the hardware itself can only be covered by patents
>> I think i have to disagree -- i think many people think a bit too
>> narrowly about what "hardware" is -- lots of things aren't patentable, or
>> the patents have expired, and we may still be interested in a share-alike
>> provision (where possible) and/or in the collaborative, open source
>> development model. We can't ignore patents where they are applicable, but
>> hardware is not exactly the same thing as patentability.
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