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!

OHSWA Board Nominees

Become a member to vote on board members today! The vote will go out by email 9/29 and be open for 48 hours. Here are your nominees in no particular order.

Joel Murphy

My career and work have been supported by open-source hardware. I have benefitted greatly from the smart, creative products and tools made by open hardwarians. I would not be in the position that I am in today without the community. I am already giving back by offering two well received open hardware tools, and I would like to be more involved in helping Open Source Hardware organization build on its successes.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I have had a close relationship with Open Source hardware for the past 10 years. I taught Physical Computing from 2006 to 2014, and saw the exponential rise in open-source hardware use and availability. I built a successful consulting company, Solutions Design, by providing design services to artists and inventors with open-source hardware products, and I am co-founder and owner of two open-source hardware startups: World Famous Electronics, LLC, maker of Pulse Sensor, and optical heart rate monitor for Arduino, and OpenBCI, Inc., a low cost, high quality EEG system. My experience as a teacher and evangelizer as well as an open hardware entrepreneur gives me multiple perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that the open source hardware community faces.
I have been to every summit, and have watched the organization grow toward a definition, and I’m excited to see and be a part of a successful implementation of the new certification.

I do not serve on any other boards at this time.

I will you be able to commit at least 10 hours a month to being on the board.

Katherine Scott

I believe Open Source Hardware can rapidly accelerate the development of art, science and technology, improve the education of engineers and lay people, and empower individuals to solve the world’s most pressing issues. We are quickly approaching the point where Open Source hardware designs are becoming much like their software counterparts; this is to say that smaller Open Source hardware projects often become the building blocks of much grander systems. I believe that the free, easy, and repeatable exchange of these designs, along with a distributed means of production, can dramatically improve the life of every person on the planet.

I believe these goals are ambitious, important, and revolutionary. I want to get into the nuts and bolts of making them happen; and I want to do it in a way that is bigger than what I can achieve on my own. In particular, I want to figure out how to make Open Source hardware projects, developers, and manufacturing easier to find and use. I also want to develop a pool of financial, legal, and practical resources that directly and actively promote the creation of great Open Source hardware. Finally, I want to work with a bunch of other awesome people who want to do the same thing.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

* I started an electronics manufacturing company / contractor manufacturer called Tempo Automation that uses both Open Source hardware and software. This means I am intimately involved with a large number of hardware projects (both open and closed). I have a pretty good view of where Open Source hardware presently fits in the world, and what strategic actions OSHWA can take to encourage wider adoption.

* In the course of my life I’ve been been a student, an autodidact, a researcher, a business woman, and an educator. I believe I can be an advocate for all of these groups and effectively articulate their needs.

* I’ve taken a few start-ups from nascent ideas on the back of a napkin to working businesses rather quickly. I want to use these same skills to increase OSHWA’s budget and further the adoption of Open Source hardware.

* I used to run a pacifist co-op while working as a research engineer for a defense contractor. I have a great deal of experience mediating between disparate views to find consensus.

* I’ve reached the point in my personal growth where I feel my time is best used helping others realize their own projects rather than working on my own.

I do not serve on any other boards at this time.

I will you be able to commit at least 10 hours a month to being on the board.

Dan Grigsby

If the messages at this year’s Open Hardware Summit from Joshua Pearce on making open hardware the new standard in science and Tom Igoe on expanding open hardware from “for us by us” to the mainstream are themes you’d worked on by the Association then I’m the board member for you.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

Making open hardware the new standard is science is largely a matter of policy. My work to influence public policy includes Federal issues such as defeating SOPA/PIPA, patent reform and net neutrality. At the state level, I was appointed to terms on the E-Government Advisory Council by the Speaker of the Minnesota House and to the Advisory Commission to the Minnesota Science and Technology Authority by the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Mainstreaming open hardware is an initiative for businesses. I have a twenty-year track record of building successful businesses using — and having those businesses contributing to — Open Source Software. I’m a business guy that shares your values.

What’s more, I’ve given back to my communities as a mentor and advisor; by teaching a tech-startup class that I authored at the University of Minnesota; and by co-founding what’s become a thousand member strong community of developers and entrepreneurs with Minnesota’s BarCamp and DemoCamp.

Plus, I sent a balloon with my kids picture to the edge of space and retrieved it. A selfie in space! How cool is that? Picture or it didn’t happen: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3jcdyvdn3x8h1qh/IMG_3731.jpg?dl=0

I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota High Tech Association.

I will you be able to commit at least 10 hours a month to being on the board.

Tim Shepherd

To make sure that Open Source hardware gets the recognition that it deserves. I’m passionate about hardware development and feel lucky to be able to try and be apart of the Open Source Hardware community.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

 

Years of hardware development experience, both in industry and at home. This will be a key issue in making sure we all can access open source hardware.

I do not serve on any other boards at this time.

I will you be able to commit at least 10 hours a month to being on the board.

Alex (acme) D’Elia

To provide support for discussions, organisation, proposals and development of new Open Standards regarding Hardware.
Specially in relation to Future Internet Technologies and IoT arguments,
and in particular related to the layers of Network and Energy Infrastructures. We have started a Technical Table on IoT and we are open to suggestions and exchange of knowledge and work: http://www.cetri-tires.org/press/technical-tables/r-i-o-t-rifkins-internet-of-things/?lang=en

What qualifies you to be a board member?

The work I am doing every day, the projects I’ve started and the partners I am working with and which are involved in the projects are also really operative in the Open Hardware and Open Source Initiatives, in some cases, the groups are already actively working since decades for FLOSS. We are all actively involved in promoting an Open IoT Infrastructure to protect freedom and knowledge sharing, specially in respect to our future generation taking the burden of developing a more open society. For a short BIO consider http://root.acme.com

Regarding the commitment I believe I can devote 10+ hours from January 2016, while at the moment I don’t know how much time I have, depending on the tasks requested I can get organized, but now I select NO to the following box.

I am “Smart Grid director” for the CETRI-TIRES No-Profit Organisation and member of the IoT Council.

No, I will not be able to commit 10 hours a month to being on the board.

Michael Knowles

In my personal life I’m a “maker” and sculptor and frequently making use of open hardware to create new works, many of which simply wouldn’t be possible without some of the great open source works I’ve been able to leverage.

Professionally, I’m the IT Director of Fulcrum Technologies, an enterprise software company based in Seattle. I continue to see the IT industry being transformed by the advances of open source, both hardware and software, and find it genuinely exciting to be a part of.

Joining the board of OSHWA is an opportunity to take my twenty years of IT experience and use it to give back to an organization that is poised to advance an underutilized piece of the larger open source movement.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I feel specifically qualified to be a successful board member of OSHWA for three main reasons:

* Having served on non-profit boards in the past, I understand the varied responsibilities that board membership requires in addition to having experience organizing, advocating and fund-raising.

* Working in the IT industry with both open and closed source products for more than 20 years, I understand the business impact that open source platforms can provide.

* I have personally benefitted from open source hardware in my art and feel I can appreciate the difference in advocating benefits between what works well for a business and what works well for non-business work. Being able to work with both of those audiences is a strength.

I served two years on the board of the Seattle Fringe Theater Festival, and participated on both their outreach and volunteer organizing committees.

Later I served two years on the board of Circus Contraption, and worked with their fund-raising committee though I am not participating on the boards of any organizations currently.

I will you be able to commit at least 10 hours a month to being on the board.

 

Jeffrey Warren

I’ve involved in many discussions at OSHWA about the open hardware community and open hardware intellectual property and legal matters — most recently in the discussions around an Open Hardware Certification model. I feel that my perspective on open source hardware strikes a balance between the functional argument that open hardware is a better way to create hardware, and the ethical position that we should have the right to examine/copy/modify/distribute designs — that open collaboration is a better model for our society. I believe deeply in community-driven processes, while also believing that for-profit organizations can — and stand to benefit greatly from — being “good open hardware citizens.”

Most of all, I believe strongly that the key to a healthy open source hardware movement is culture. We must continue and improve upon our open, discursive approach to open hardware, and to build strong norms to guide our work, so that we can continue to invent, collaborate, and benefit from one anothers’ work. This spans from good documentation to standards of design file publication, to refining the pace and practices of the actual collaboration in online forums, publication platforms, and even in-person meetings.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I’ve served on the OSHWA board for 2 years, and have been deeply interested in open hardware both through my work at Public Lab, and as part of the broader free/libre/open source movement. Public Lab, a community of thousands of people engaged in collaboratively developing affordable and accessible environmental testing techniques and equipment, has been using the CERN Open Hardware License for several years, and I participated in the discussions and comment period which led to version 1.2 of that license. I am a producer and consumer of open source hardware and free/libre/open source software, notably as a lead developer of Public Lab’s DIY Spectrometer and associated SpectralWorkbench.org software suite (http://publiclab.org/wiki/spectrometer), as well as the Infragram multispectral camera (http://publiclab.org/wiki/infragram) and associated Infragram.org image compositing system. Since 2011, using our published designs and kits, over six thousand people have constructed their own spectrometers, and many have contributed back their refinements and additions. The size and scope of this project gives me key insight into how a diverse community of contributors can collaboratively tackle complex hardware design, and into the challenges of scaling such a model.

I’ve also served as the secretary of OSHWA, taking minutes on board meetings, and have missed almost none of the meetings over the past two years — making mine one of the best attendance records among current board members. I would be excited to continue to represent the interests of community-based open hardware contributors everywhere during an additional two years of service.

I am on the board of Parts & Crafts, a makerspace for kids in Somerville, MA, and on the advisory board of Personal Democracy Media’s WeGov project.

I will you be able to commit at least 10 hours a month to being on the board.

 

Members, please be on the lookout for the link to vote in your inbox today!