[OH Updates] the solderpad hardware license
G. Andrew Stone
g.andrew.stone at gmail.com
Wed Mar 28 06:50:18 PDT 2012
Apache (and Solderpad) seems to me to be an incredibly careful way to give
something away. A bit of research shows that this Solderpad seems to
simply broaden the rights specified to EU, US, and GB specific acts
(Andrew, it would have been nice for you to write a bit about your
rationale so we do not have to figure it out ourselves). Since any
government can pass another act giving another set of copyright-like rights
it might be better to somehow use language that covers all of them. I
think this may have been the intent of the addition to section 2: "and do
anything in relation to the Work as if the Rights did not exist."
But it seems to me you can likely give something away much more succinctly
with the Disclaimers and Limitations section (cover your ass) and a very
general rights clause. By carefully naming all these specific rights you
fall into the lawyer's trap of over-specificity. This opens up a
counter-argument that an unnamed right was intended to remain in force --
an argument that holds little weight if broad language is used. And so we
end up with Oracle lawyers squabbling over Java when all know that Sun's
clear intent was to give the software away...
Andrew, your blog implies that you don't seem too interested in a copyleft
style license, which is too bad because that's where the real interesting
1. Can a software copyright enforce copyleft onto the hardware its running
on? For example, "if you own copyright to hardware design files AND you
are using this software you must license the hardware design files using
2. Sure the physical device cannot be copyrighted... but the files can. Is
there a viable legal strategy where the physical hardware is shown to be
sufficiently similar to the OSHW (maybe using DNA or fingerprints as a
precedent) that corporate data (emails, source repository, etc) can be
subpoenaed to investigate whether the engineers began from the OSHW files?
On Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 2:45 AM, Andrew Katz <andrew at thekatzfamily.co.uk>wrote:
> Hi Andrew
> On 27 Mar 2012, at 21:27, G. Andrew Stone wrote:
> Why use it? If a new license was created for every type of work
> envisioned, for example: mystery stories vs. sci fi vs. non-fiction, we'd
> have a lot of distinction without any real difference. If none of the
> unique issues with open hardware are addressed in a license, then we might
> as well use the "upstream" Apache, BSD, etc to license the documents that
> describe OSHW.
> It's specifically intended to address issues particular to open hardware
> that other licences do not, such as design rights and database right.
> Apache itself is a good place to start, which is why I started there :) .
> However, unless you are confident that your design does not contain any of
> these other rights, then you are licensing under an unclear licence. The
> Solderpad licence addresses these issues explicitly, and avoids a situation
> where you choose Apache or BSD for documents (and the hardware itself)
> which do not have these other rights, and another more explicit licence for
> circumstances where it does.
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