[OH Updates] breakout boards are gateways to more open-source hardware

Bruce Perens bruce at perens.com
Wed Sep 21 11:38:31 PDT 2011

On 09/21/2011 10:20 AM, Javier Serrano wrote:
> Is there any particular thing which makes it unsuitable? I will have a 
> meeting with Myriam on Monday 3 October to discuss about version 1.2. 
> of the CERN OHL
Hi Javier,

As you heard at Myriam's session, the main reason CERN did not use the 
the TAPR license was that it:

1. Was too USA-centric.
2. Didn't do some other things they wanted. She didn't say what those were.

I suspect that #2 had to do with specific requirements of CERN's funders 
and isn't important to Open Hardware folks outside of CERN.

This leaves me with a few concerns:

1. License proliferation. You know what a problem it is for Open Source, 
with 69 approved licenses /after /they removed the deprecated versions 
of some licenses from that list. There are so many combinations of just 
two licenses that nobody understands all of them. This raises the legal 
load for everyone, and does a disservice to the community because they 
need to invest more legal time into working out the license 
combinatorial issue before they can go ahead with their work.

Company-specific licenses used to be welcomed into Open Source because 
we took it as a sign of the company's participation, and we wanted more 
companies visibly participating. But eventually we realized that the 
value in company participation was in the projects, not the licenses. 
The company-specific licenses main goal was to satisfy the company's 
inside counsel (who were always more happy with their own text) and 
didn't really provide a positive value to the community over the 
licenses that already existed.

2. I can't come up with what CERN's license does that the other 
alternatives: CC BY-SA, TAPR, GPL, don't do.

3. CERN felt the need to get away from USA-centric language, but their 
version is fine for USA use without any port back to that USA-centric 



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