[Discuss] Request for Comments: Digital DIY: Legal Challenges & Solutions Practised Report

lkcl . luke.leighton at gmail.com
Thu Sep 22 12:04:20 UTC 2016

On Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 9:53 AM, Paul Bristow <paul at panglosslabs.org> wrote:
> Perhaps it would be useful to collate what we would ideally like to achieve
> with open source hardware “licenses” and then discuss how?
> For example, I would like to be sure that when I release a hardware design,
> the condition for using it is that modifications are published under the
> same conditions.  I do not wish to place restrictions on making money with
> the design.

 ok.  that's a good wish (that the conditions should not change -
you've not said what they are but it's a really important part of any

 what about any other wishes?  i'm going to throw in some tough
examples for people to debate, here, so that the issues aren't
avoided.  the open hardware community as a whole really does have to
face these things at some point - sooner rather than later especially
in light of the very recent court case [1].

 for example: would you like to ensure that you are not sued as a
direct result of someone else who takes a copy of the designs (which
you created), implements them (either as-is or with modifications)
either successfully and faithfully (or by making mistakes due to their
own lack of knowledge), and ends up either killing someone else with
the end result or ends up killing themselves?

 without any kind of statement that you expect people to take absolute
responsibility for their own actions and decisions, if a liability
statement is entirely missing, it could (and will) be said that it was
entirely your fault for not warning people - for not making them

 another example: what about the instances of designs which have the
clear and undeniable (secondary or additional) purpose(s) of maiming,
torturing or killing other people (even if those designs were
*actually* made by the original designer for the explicit stated
purpose of "self-defense").  what should the license say under these
kinds of circumstances?  certainly i'm aware that if we simply apply
the "Four Freedoms", there's nothing explicitly in the "Four Freedoms"
which *actively* prevents or prohibits people from doing some
unbelievably unethical things.

this latter example brings us back to the original comment i made,
which comes down to "is it WISE to allow ALL people UNRESTRICTED
access to knowledge"?  it's an extension of: if you know that someone
has murderous intent in their heart and you put a weapon into their
hand, are you complicit with the resultant murder?  (answer in many
countries: yes you are).  thus if you put KNOWLEDGE into someone's
hands that you KNOW they will misuse, are you complicit i.e. a party
to the disastrous end results?


[1] https://yro.slashdot.org/story/16/09/21/210230/with-3d-printer-gun-files-national-security-interest-trumps-free-speech-court-rules

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