2016 OHSummit..

There is less than 45 days left until this years OHSummit. It is the first Summit we will have ever hosted on the west coast and we are thrilled to be going to Portland, Oregon- it is the perfect location, right between Seattle and SF.

There are still tickets and sponsorship places available. We have already a great start to our speaker line up

Hope to see you all in PDX!

OHS 2013 at MIT

OHS 2013 at MIT

Asking for a Clear Test for Copyright and OSHW

One of the things that makes open source hardware licenses hard is that – unlike software – it isn’t always easy to determine what parts of a product (if any) are covered by copyright. Since traditional open source licenses rely on copyright to make them enforceable, understanding how copyright applies to a piece of open source hardware is the first step in deciding how you might want to license it.

Finding copyright can be complicated because it protects creative and decorative works (including code), but not functional items.  Pieces of open source hardware often combine both creative and functional elements.  This makes it critical to understand how to break out the copyright-protectable parts from the non-copyright-protectable ones.

Unfortunately, today in the United States there are at least ten different and somewhat contradictory tests to guide that process.  That makes it hard for copyright experts to draw the line between copyrightable and non-copyrightable, and essentially impossible for everyone else.

That’s why OSHWA joined the International Costumbers Guild, Shapeways, Formlabs, Printrbot, the Organization for Transformative Works, the American Library Association, The Association of Research Libraries, and the Association of College and Research Libraries on a brief written by Public Knowledge in the Supreme Court case Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands.  While the case is nominally about cheerleader uniforms (really), it boils down to a simple question: which test should be used to separate out the copyrightable and non-copyrightable elements of an object that includes both?

The brief does not advocate for a specific test. Instead, it simply urges the Supreme Court to pick a simple, easy to understand test. That clarity alone would be a huge benefit to the entire open source hardware community.

Although we are filing the brief now, the Court’s decision probably won’t be until next year.  Once it comes out, we’ll do our best to explain what it means for the entire open source hardware community.

OSHW Certification mark usage GitHub repository

Hello all — as promised, as part of OSHWA’s work on the upcoming Open Source Hardware Certification program, we’ve created a GitHub repository to host design templates including the mark for different design programs, so that you can more easily put the mark onto circuit boards, packaging, and documentation. The repository also includes a README with guidelines and style suggestions for using the mark in various contexts, sizes, colors, and print technologies (as shown above).

This is a draft, and we intend to continue refining it as a set of recommendations on how to use the mark, and as a style guide if you’re looking for ideas on where and how to incorporate the mark into your designs and documentation.

We’re starting with just PDF and SVG formats, but we are accepting both requests for new template formats and pull requests including new design template files for different design programs.

Announcing October as Open Source Hardware Month!

OSHWA would like to announce Open Source Hardware Month for the month of October 2016. OSHWA is inviting you to participate in events that will add clarity to the open source hardware definition, invite more people to contribute to the movement, and provide education around how to publish a project or product as open source hardware.

Some of OSHWA’s events are highlighted in the White House’s FACT SHEET on page 18: New Commitments in Support of the President’s Nation of Makers Initiative to Kick Off 2016 National Week of Making

Documentation Days

Throughout the month of October, OSHWA will be hosting several documentation days for anyone, individual or company to participate. Documentation Days will be free, community organized events to document your most recent open source hardware project following the OSHW definition and guidelines. This is the perfect time to document that project you just haven’t gotten around to open sourcing. Look for documentation days from OSHWA’s board members and branches in their communities throughout October. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to stay tuned and for dates and locations of our events and look for updates on our blog.

OSHW Certification

OSHWA will launch the first version of the open source hardware certification. This is an open source hardware certifications administered by OSHWA. This certification is designed to benefit at least two parts of the open source hardware community.

First, it benefits purchasers of open source hardware by making it easy to identify truly open source hardware in the marketplace.  Projects and products obtaining certification and displaying the certification logo clearly communicate a commonly agreed upon definition of openness with customers and users.  While certification is not a condition for openness, obtaining certification is a way to make it clear to others that a given project is open source hardware.

Second, the certification benefits creators of open source hardware.  By giving creators specific guidelines, certification allows open source hardware creators to confidently declare their projects and products as open source hardware.  Certification also allows creators to defend that declaration by pointing to compliance with specific criteria defined in the certification process.

Users will self-certify compliance in order to use the certification logos.  Self-certification will give creators the right to use the OSHWA open source hardware certification logo.  As part of the self-certification process, creators will agree to subject themselves to penalties for non-compliance.  OSHWA will be responsible for enforcing those penalties.

Open Hardware Summit

In addition to the documentation days and certification, as always OSHWA will be hosting our annual Open Hardware Summit in Portland, OR on October 7th. Tickets to the Summit are available and we’re currently looking for speakers and sponsors.

Join OSHWA Today!

The Open Source Hardware Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to being the voice of the open hardware community, ensuring that technological knowledge is accessible to everyone, and encouraging the collaborative development of technology that serves education, environmental sustainability, and human welfare. Become a member of OSHWA today!

Updates on the OSHW Certification mark

Hello all – we’re excited to announce a final design for the logo (mark) that will be used for OSHWA’s Open Hardware Certification program. We had a lot of great ideas submitted, and after collecting feedback from OSHWA members on the top six, we’ve developed a final mark based largely on ideas from Matt Maier’s submission (see comments from above post), which received the most support of the submitted designs. Thanks to Matt and to everyone who helped shape this design!

Here is the final design; it is aimed to be distinctive and readable at very small sizes, as you might find on a circuit board screenprint, or on the bottom of an open hardware object. Letters are spaced to prevent obscuring due to ink bleed, and it provides space for an optional unique identifier code which could be used to look up the design. And it prints in monochrome with an optional two-color option.

A full design guide and various pre-loaded design files will be posted soon, so stay tuned. Thanks!

Update on Certification Mark Logo

A couple weeks ago, we made a call for ideas for a logo to be used in OSHWA’s upcoming Open Hardware Certification program, and we got some great submissions. From these, we’ve selected a handful of especially promising ideas and we’ll be sending a survey to OSHWA members shortly to solicit input on these, narrowing down the ideas towards a final logo.
You can become a member of OSHWA here: https://oshwa.org/membership/
Thanks again to those who submitted ideas, and we’ll have some more news for you soon!

Open Hardware Certification mark: call for ideas

Hi, all – Jeff Warren here, OSHWA board vice president. 

You’ve probably been aware of the ongoing process by OSHWA to develop a certification program, with community input. Now we need to develop a graphic mark — the actual logo which would appear on Open Source Hardware objects, products, packaging, circuit boards, and documentation — by the end of March/early April. In light of that, today we’re making a call for ideas for what this might look like! We’ll keep an eye open here for 2 weeks, and announce next steps shortly afterward.

Note that this is NOT replacing the Open Source Hardware mark folks have been using — it’s a new certification mark, indicating that your project is part of the upcoming OSHWA certification program. Think of it like a “fair trade” or “certified organic” mark — extra assurance that the project really is open source hardware. A mark you can trust, because OSHWA won’t allow its use if you don’t comply with the Open Source Hardware Definition! It should be:

  • easy to distinguish from the existing “open source hardware” mark
  • not like the OSI logo (no gears, keyholes in gears)
  • monochrome-friendly (it’ll have to be printed on circuit boards)
  • simple enough to read at ~¼ inch ~3mm, & ideally even smaller
  • consider space for a unique identifier, useable in a URL (say, up to 5 characters)


Not this mark — a new one! But this illustration posted by Windell Oskay nicely shows how the mark will need to be legible at varying sizes.

Post your ideas in the comments — please embed images so people can easily scan through them.

Please note! OSHWA may incorporate ideas or use complete submitted logos for the OSHWA open hardware certification.  That means that by participating you are agreeing to transfer all rights in the design to OSHWA.  Why do we need the rights?  In order to control the logo and the terms of the certification, we need to control the rights connected to the logo.  We understand that arrangement won’t work for everyone, but it is the only way we can make sure the logo does what it is supposed to do.

Update: So, in response to some comments here and on the OSHWA discuss list, the nature of trademark is that we can’t re-use elements from someone else’s trademark, especially in a similar field. So although I see the draw of basing ours off of CC, for example, that would not make for a good mark, legally speaking. And in general, to avoid confusion, I think it’s best if it’s *quite distinct* from other marks, including the gear logo referenced in the post.

Re: embedding images, sorry, for the time being, please just link to images, and we’ll work something out soon.

Mach 30 Reimagines The Martian with Open Source

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Spoiler Alert: This post discusses several key details of The Martian.  If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, you have been warned.

It might be argued that Rich Purnell, “steely-eyed missile man“, is the true hero of The Martian. But you know what else could have helped save Mark Watney (in a much smarter, more efficient way)? Open sourcing.

Let’s back the story up a bit before we get into the details. Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, is an astronaut stranded on Mars after a dust storm forces his crew to leave him behind. As he does his best to signal to Earth for help and stay alive, NASA and a team of scientists work together to bring him home.

Read More on Mach 30’s Blog.

Welcome to our new OSHWA Board Members!

Thank you to our members who voted for OSHWA’s new board members! Your vote is a major contribution as we need to reach quorum (at least 10% of our members) to make anything official in OSHWA. This year, we filled 5 board member seats which will be held for 2 years.

Please welcome our new board members Katherine Scott, Jeffrey Warren, Michael Knowles, Joel Murphy, and Dan Grigsby!

2015 oshwa votes

Thank you to all who participated in nominations!