Revoking Certification for ES000001: MOTEDIS XYZ

Today, for the first time in the history in the Open Source Hardware Certification Program, OSHWA is revoking the certification for hardware.  OSHWA is revoking the certification for the MOTEDIS XYZ 3D printer, with the UID ES000001, because the documentation is no longer publicly available.  We have attempted to contact Motedis with a request to re-post the documentation but they have not been responsive.

Since this is the first time OSHWA has revoked a certification, we want to explain what happened, as well as what we will do in order to help prevent this type of situation in the future.

What happened

A few weeks ago, a community member wrote in and noted that the documentation link for the XYZ was no longer live.  After reaching out to the contact person listed in the certification application, we have been unable to obtain a copy of the documentation to post publicly.   Without the documentation, the XYZ is no longer in compliance with the program. Therefore OSWHA revoked the certification.

What it means

Revoking the certification means that going forward the XYZ can no longer be advertised as being certified open source hardware.  It does not mean that Motedis’ failure to provide documentation today makes them retroactively in violation of the certification rules.  The certification requires that the documentation be available at the time of certification. It does not require the certifying party to commit to making a copy of that documentation available in perpetuity.  This is a burden that is unreasonable to expect of a party applying for certification.

What now

When the Certification program was being developed, there was a debate over whether or not OSHWA should try and host a repository of all of the certified hardware.  One advantage of such a centralized repository would have been to allow OSHWA itself to maintain archive copies of documentation.

However, that approach also comes with costs.  Developing and maintaining a feature-complete documentation hosting solution is beyond OSHWA’s core competency.  Many good solutions for developing and maintaining software and documentation already exist online. Requiring certifiers to update and maintain yet another repository of documentation in order to certify was determined to be unnecessarily burdensome.  Instead, the certification directory supports links which point to the place where the developers already host and maintain their documentation.

OSHWA continues to believe that this decentralized approach is correct.  Nonetheless, the first revocation of certification provides us with an opportunity to consider improvements.  OSHWA has started to investigate a process that would allow us to archive a version of all documentation. This archive would not be used at the primary documentation storage location.  Instead, it would only be used in the event that the original documentation was no longer available. That would allow users of hardware to access documentation even after the responsible party stops supporting it as open.

If you have thoughts about this, please let us know in the forums.

OSHWA Certification Logo is Official

We at OSHWA are excited to announce that the OSHWA Certification process has an officially registered trademark. This registration will make it easier for OSHWA to prevent people from using the OSHWA Open Source Hardware Certification logo if they have not actually gone through the certification process. We hope this will give the community more confidence when they see the OSHWA certification logo on hardware out in the world.

While there are many good faith ways to describe something as “open source hardware,” OSHWA considers certified projects to have met the gold standard of open source hardware by formally committing to comply with all of the elements of the community definition.

Are Trademarks Compatible with Open Source Hardware?

Trademarks are not in conflict with open source hardware. Trademarks are designed to indicate the origins of goods, not to control their reproduction. Knowing who produced something is especially important with hardware, because who actually manufactured hardware can be just as important to its reliability as who designed it.

Trademarks also do not prevent someone else from building on or using hardware that is protected by the mark. Companies like Lulzbot, Evil Mad Scientist, Adafruit, and Sparkfun all make open source hardware that anyone can copy, improve, or build upon. What people cannot do is pretend that their version of the hardware came from one of those companies by selling their version under the brand name of the original creator. That makes sense, because the original creator is no longer responsible for the new versions.

When creators have invited the world to make use of their open hardware, trademarks are how we know which pieces of hardware still come from the original designer. OSHWA believe that strong brand identities are compatible with a vibrant open source hardware ecosystem.

What OSHWA’s Trademark Means

The OSHWA Open Source Hardware Certification process is designed to make it easy for end users to quickly tell if their hardware meets the community definition of Open Source Hardware.  When you see the OSHWA certification logo, you know what “open source hardware” really means.

example mark

The trademark will allow us to control how people use the certification logo out in the world. In concrete terms, it means that someone who fraudulently uses the OSHWA certification logo on hardware that does not meet the community definition is infringing on the OSHWA trademark.  That means that OSHWA could bring a trademark infringement action against that person. This will allow OSHWA to protect the integrity of the certification mark.

What  OSHWA’s Trademark Doesn’t Mean

As we noted in a post at the outset of the certification development process, OSHWA has no interest in controlling, nor ability to control, who gets to use the term “open source hardware.”  Similarly, OSHWA does not have, nor desire, any control over who gets to use the Gear Logo and when they get to use it. Open Source Hardware is a concept that was developed by the community and continues to evolve as the community evolves.

Instead, OSHWA’s trademark will allow OSHWA to control the OSHWA-specific certification process.  If the community definition of open source hardware is important to you, the OSHWA certification logo will be an easy way to know that the hardware you are holding matches that definition.

What is Next?

We are getting excited to launch version 2.0 of the certification process at the Summit this September.  One of the big goals of 2.0 is to make it even easier to understand how licensing works with open source hardware, and make it easy to explore hardware that has already been certified.  If you are at the Summit you will be able to see that launch in person. If you can’t make it, keep an eye on this space for updates.

Also, a huge thank you to the students of the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic at Stanford University Law School for guiding OSHWA through the registration process.

Thoughts?  Questions? You can always find OSHWA on Twitter, Facebook, and in the forums.

 

OSHWA Certification 2.0

After almost a year and a half of community discussion, OSHWA unveiled the Open Source Hardware Certification Program at the 2016 Open Hardware Summit.  Today, with the help of a major grant from the Sloan Foundation, we are excited to announce that we are taking major steps towards Certification 2.0.

The original certification program has some fairly straightforward goals.  It is designed to make it easy for creators to identify their hardware as compliant with the community definition of open source hardware, as well as make it easy for users to know that hardware that is advertised as “open source” meets  their expectations.  The certification process gives a creator confidence that they have done everything required to call their hardware open source.  The certification logo gives users confidence that they will be able to access, build upon, and hack any hardware that they receive.

We didn’t know what to expect when we launched the certification program and have been blown away by the results.  There are currently 170 certified hardware projects from 18 countries on 5 continents participating in the program.

While we are excited about the certification program, shortly after it launched we started thinking of ways to improve it.  The current interface built on a combination of google forms and wordpress is functional, but not necessarily elegant.  Once the process was live, we also started getting feedback from users on ways to make it better.  One major concern was that the registration process exists in a bit of a vacuum.  It asks the creator to verify that she has complied with all of the requirements but does not provide very much guidance on the best ways to comply or the various choices that can be made and still comply.

For the past year we have been working with the Technology Law and Policy Clinic at the New York University School of Law to create more robust guidance to help creators navigate the licensing, documentation, and other decisions that creators must make when they are working towards certification.  We have also been working with the team at Objectively to turn that guidance into an interactive process that draws on examples from the community.

The grant from the Sloan Foundation allows us to take that work and turn the certification into a much more robust and useful resource.  We are hoping to have the new site ready to launch by the 2018 Summit.  Until then, please let us know if you have thoughts, ideas, or concerns.  We are very excited about the next chapter of the Certification Program and hope you will be too.

2017-2019 Board Nominees

Become an OSHWA member today to vote on nominees!

This year, we have 3 open seats on the OSHWA board. Board members will hold a 2-year position. Once board members have been chosen by the community, the board will appoint a President, VP, and Secretary. As every nominee answered “Yes” to having 5 hours a month to give to the board, we did not include that question in each nominee’s data. Board responsibilities include fundraising, advising on goals and direction, and carrying out compliance of the organization’s purposes and bylaws. The vote will be open on Oct. 14th through Oct 21st. Members will be emailed a link to vote. Here are the nominees in alphabetical order:

Akiba

Why do you want to be on the board?

I’ve been involved and worked with many nonprofits and NGOs doing projects like monitoring illegal waste dumping, monitoring water quality in the Himalayas, radiation monitoring in Japan, etc. All of those projects have used open source hardware in some form because the designs could be rapidly put together, deployed, and assessed. Crises are becoming the norm and I believe open source hardware will play a crucial role to prevent, mitigate, or assist aid workers and victims during those times. I’d like to give back to the open source hardware community for all the benefits I’ve received as well as help guide OSHW and OSHWA towards more cooperation with nonprofit humanitarian and aid agencies.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I’ve been designing open source hardware for the past ten years and have run an open source hardware company for the same amount of time. I think it’s important for OSHWA board members to understand the value of OSHW and how that translates into commercial value for their companies. I’ve put together or have been involved putting together four hackerspaces (Tokyo Hackerspace, Mothership Hackermoms, Knowledge Garden Dharamsala, and HackerFarm) and understand the importance of building, maintaining, and growing community. I’ve also worked with, consulted, and put together open hardware projects for groups like UNESCO, World Bank, and IAEA and believe that it’s important to reach out and educate NGOs doing important work to the benefits of open source hardware.

Will Caruana

Why do you want to be on the board?

I want to be part of something bigger then my self. I feel that I will add an outside perspective. I don’t work in any industry that produces goods but I live in that maker space of the communitte.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I served as president of a non profit for 5 years it’s the Friends of Wilbraham Public Access. I was the chairmen if the Board Band Committee which was able to set up a municipal corporation that sell fiber optic services to ISP’s. I also love make things currently I like making high voltage projects like my demo fusion reactor which currently produces a ball of plasma in a vacuum. I am also running the fun with high voltage workshop at the Hackaday Superconference because I like helping people learn and work with high voltage.

 

Arielle Hein

Why do you want to be on the board?

I work and engage with a vastly diverse range of different communities, but one of the primary overlaps between these groups is that they all rely heavily on open source tools, hardware in particular. I am extremely passionate about building bridges between the arts and engineering, and making this cross-disciplinary work more accessible to a broad range of makers – to artists and women especially. I love to create, hack, and teach all things open source – but as much as I’m excited about exploring emerging technologies, the thing that drives me most is the way that sharing knowledge is an opportunity to build connections between people. I am excited about the prospect of more direct engagement within the Open Source Hardware community, and eager to assist in continuing to extend the mission of this organization.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

Since my time as a graduate student at ITP NYU, I have worked extensively with Open Source Hardware and have engaged with the community consistently since then. In my current role as an Instructor at the University of Colorado, I teach interaction design and physical computing courses that rely heavily on open source tools. Beyond skill acquisition, my philosophy as an educator focuses on the importance of knowledge sharing, documentation, and collaboration – notions that I will bring to my contributions on the board of OSHWA. I also have extensive community organizing experience through my ongoing work as the Coordinator of ITP Camp. I am a strong communicator (and listener!) and very organized and responsive in all correspondence. I am extremely excited about the opportunity to serve not he OSHWA board and am hopeful to deepen my contributions within this community. I am glad to answer any questions via email from anyone in the community regarding my qualifications or interest in this role!

David Li

Why do you want to be on the board?

I am currently the executive director of Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab which is a government supported platform to promote and facilitate the collaboration between the Shenzhen open hardware ecosystem and the global makers and open source hardware groups. Prior to SZOIL, I also started the research hub Hacked Matter with two collaborators to study global maker movement and open hardware ecosystem in Shenzhen and publish our findings. Shenzhen open hardware ecosystem is currently a 100 billion industry and the insight into how this ecosystem was developed and structured could contribute the future growth of the global open source hardware development.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I have been an open source and free software contributor since 1990 on various of projects. Ardublock I developed in 2012 is one of the most popular graphical development environments for Arduino. I have been doing research in the area of open hardware ecosystem in China since 2011. In my previous role as the director of ObjectWeb an European based open source software consortium in 2003-2006, I contributed to the joint effort between ObjectWeb and major Chinese open source software projects. I can bring new insights to the board and help bridge the global open hardware and the open ecosystem in China.

Narcisse Mbunzama

Why do you want to be on the board?

I want to bring my experience and knowledge on open hardware and related issues with a special view on technical and organizations development. As a citizen of the democratic republic of Congo, I wish to represent the global south in the board, to bring valuable contribution and inputs finally to help achieve the open hardware association mission.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I hold a master degree in computer science and technology innovation and I am a fellow of the international telecommunication union and member of several technology innovation organizations around the world. I’m a serial award winning tech innovator and I conduct researches on standards for open hardware, design of system and related issues. With my background and experience, I personally believe that I am a qualified candidate to join the board and i will bring valuable inputs and contribution in the board.

Joel Murphy

Why do you want to be on the board?
I’ve been a board member of OSHWA since 2015, and now that my two year stint has ended I am once again throwing my hat in the ring to continue serving this great organization. In the last two years, I am proud to have helped steer the creation of the OSHWA Certification. We also made our first formal staff hires, for which I worked on the compensation committee. It has been amazing to watch our community grow. I hope to continue as a board member to ensure that our certification is strong and widely used. It has been a great pleasure to work with the other dedicated board members and it would be an honor to receive your vote to continue giving back to our community at this level.
What qualifies you to be a board member?
I have been a user, maker, and teacher of open-source hardware since 2006. I have co-founded two open-source hardware start-ups, and I’m working on my fourth. I have been to every OSH Summit since 2010 and I have personal and professional relationships with many community members. I taught Physical Computing at Parsons in NYC from 2006 to 2014. During that time I watched the open-source hardware movement explode around me.  Working with students in 2011, I saw an opportunity, and with a friend started World Famous Electronics, maker of the Pulse Sensor, an optical heart rate monitor for makers and researchers. That foray into bio-sensing lead me to co-found OpenBCI, makers of low cost, open-source EEG amplifiers for neuroscience research and education. In addition to these endeavors, I’m am also working with a team to create and commercialize open-source hearing aids and hearing aid development tools. 5 of my projects are now OSHWA certified. I’m committed to increasing the awareness of OSHWA, growing our organization and continuing to support our mission.

Chris Osterwood

Why do you want to be on the board?

I am a longtime user of Open Source Hardware and have benefited from it greatly. I want to return that favor and help others benefit from OSHW. I’m a mechanical engineer by training and I chose that educational path because I was fascinated and captivated by the mechanical world. I gained tremendous design insight and experience by taking apart my toys as a child — in fact my favorite store sold broken junk by the pound. Being able to see how my toys worked gave me interest in designing new products. Since college, I’ve learned electrical design through study of open source hardware schematics, bills of materials, and design journals. I now see that I’m repeating my childhood but in digital circuit design — learning new skills and design strategies by interrogating what others have made. And without OSHW, without published schematics, this kind of interrogation and subsequent learning is much more difficult. What I’ve learned has allowed me to start my own company, Capable Robot Components, which will be releasing a line of OSHW products aimed at changing the make vs buy decisions that makers of unmanned ground robots currently face. I want to be on the OSHWA board to further its mission and to help others benefit from OSHW as I have.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I’m not sure quite how to answer this question. But, I understand and am interested in organization building — for example I’m on the steering committee of the Pittsburgh Robotics Network, which is becoming a 501c6 organization. I am embracing OSHW with the products I’m designing at my company. I have functional knowledge in hardware design, embedded software, web software, marketing, and law. I enjoy teaching and speaking — I’ve given talks on law & robots (Practicing Law Institute) and how we tested 3D sensors at my previous company (Embedded Vision Summit and ROSCON). I listen. I try to make well reasoned decisions.

Jeff Paranich

Why do you want to be on the board?

My low-level coding interests for the past 20 years have led me to hardware design, and the colossal reward of holding a tangible, physical item, in your hands that can be shared with others to extend upon and use in their designs. While programming low-level in itself is still fulfilling, the thought that everyday consumers can build their own commercial grade products with all the distributor resources available today is truly phenomenal. Curiously, the knowledge that such a movement exist is not known by the general population. One simply envisions big factories, assembly lines, and blue-chip organizations being the sole innovator and originator; when in reality there are compelling and pioneering designs being done by small organizations and private individuals in their own homes. I believe this is a tragic mindset; the homebrew and maker community was strong in the eighties, there was a general knowledge it existed by all and anticipation of an upcoming wave to pave the future to new technology. I can attest that today open hardware has, and will continue to gain, a lot of momentum – and is strongest it has been in two decades – but may continue to be eclipsed by large organizations that keep much of their business proprietary. Canada, my home country, has a very strong post-secondary system; world-class Computer Science and Engineering schools, however outside of BioWare and BlackBerry there has not been much traction in STEM corporations, small business’, nor makers in the nation, I believe due in part to organizations such as OSHWA not having a strong enough presence to inform and encourage innovation and open source/hardware from early on and to general masses. Thus, I desire to be on the board to expand awareness of the Open Source Hardware Association and inform and educate those who are not aware of what it represents. I pledge to attend fairs or events, fundraise well beyond the expected $300 as it is not enough, and provide meaningful input on the Board of Director meetings. I also believe the best protection for OSHWA’s future is committing resources to youth at early ages, expanding their mind into hardware before they move onto post-secondary or private studies – even presenting hardware as a valid field of self-study that can merit much personal success with all the open source resources available today. OSHWA is the strongest association and best bet right now to incite change, grow the movement further, and ensure the hardware community story remains a rich and colorful one. It would be an absolute honor to be part of the team and ensure its continued success.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I hold dual degrees from the University of Alberta- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science & Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Mathematics, with a minor in Business. I have been a projects controls manager for over two billion dollars in heavy oil projects; managing revenue, cost, margins, scheduling and progress completion. When I am not managing projects, I am designing hardware in my workshop. My most common projects typically involve power supplies, FPGA boards, video processing ADC/DAC boards, and audio amplifiers. Furthermore, I have coded a multitude of company software programs – software as simple as employee in/out of office interfaces, to estimating software for piping fabrication, to invoicing software which neared that of a full ERP system. I have a thorough knowledge of C++, C and the Unix tool set (Awk, Sed, etc), and believe in the Unix philosophy of building simple, short, clear, modular, and extensible code that can be easily maintained and repurposed by developer’s other than its creators. I can operate under tight deadlines and sometimes unrealistic deliverables, accepting the challenge and looking forward to the feeling of reward once finished. Lastly, I am co-founder of a successful videography company in Alberta (J&C Media Corporation), managing employees and finances and scheduling – also doing occasional filming myself in the field for corporate and private events. All said my past is very multi-faceted, I have a multitude of exposure to many elements at various business levels and have been successful to date with a clear, structured framework to how I approach things and would apply all my techniques to ensure the continued success of the Open Source Hardware Association.

Nick Poole

Why do you want to be on the board?

I’ve always been a proponent of OSHW and other Free and Open initiatives and I believe I finally have the free time and bandwidth to get involved with steering the ship. I’m also interested in talking to other board members and learning from their perspectives.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I’ve worked for SparkFun Electronics for almost 7 years where I’ve had the opportunity to see open hardware from a number of perspectives: as a marketing professional, a community discussion leader, and a designer and maintainer of open hardware projects. I believe that my work experience combined with my unique personal perspective and affinity for facilitating and mediating discussions could make me a valuable member of the board.

OSHWA 2017-2019 Board Nominations Open!

OSHWA is looking for 3 new faces to join the board of directors for the Open Source Hardware Association. The nominee form is for self-nominations only. Please fill out the nominee form (deactivated October 14) to become a nominee or forward the link to someone you want to nominate. Do not fill out the form for someone else. The purpose of this form is to tell voting members why you want to serve on the OSHWA board. We will be publish the nominees and their answers on Oct. 14th. Board members hold a 2-year position. Once board members have been chosen by the community, the board will appoint a President, VP, and Secretary. Board responsibilities include fundraising, advising on goals and direction, and carry out compliance with the organizations purposes and bylaws. See the board member agreement to get a sense of the responsibilities. Board members are expected to adhere to the board attendance policy and come prepared having read the board packet. Board members are expected to spend 5-10 hours of time per month on OSHWA. Nominees can meet current board members who are present at the Summit on Oct. 5th to ask questions or submit questions to info@oshwa.org. Nominations will be open until Oct. 12th.

Member voting will take place Oct. 14-21. Want to vote in the election? Become a member! Please note that only individuals can vote, corporate members cannot.

 

Open Source Hardware Certification IDs Are Live!

Last month at the Open Hardware Summit we announced the start of the OSHWA open source hardware certification program.  Part of that program involved issuing unique IDs (UIDs) for each piece of registered hardware.  Since we knew that low numbers would be hot properties, we decided to wait until the end of October to assign them.  That allowed us to give every piece of hardware registered in the month of October a chance for the lowest possible number.

Today, thanks to the good people at random.org, we have assigned those UIDs to all pieces of hardware registered before the end of October.  We have also started assigning numbers sequentially for all pieces of hardware registered since November started.  You can see all of the registered hardware  here.

There were 60 different projects registered from 9 different countries.  Want to get your own UID?  Register here!

Announcing the OSHWA Open Source Hardware Certification Program

oshwacert

Today the Open Source Hardware Association is excited to announce the OSHWA Open Source Hardware Certification program.  The program allows hardware that complies with the community definition of open source hardware to display a certified open source hardware logo.  It will also make it easier for users of open source hardware to track down documentation and more information.  You can check out the program here, and keep on reading for some information about how it will work.

 

launchpartners3

These companies and organizations have agreed to certify at least one piece of hardware by the end of this year.

Background and Purpose

Almost a year and a half ago, OSHWA announced its intention to explore the creation of an Open Source Hardware certification.  At that point, the open source hardware community had created a community definition of open source hardware and the open source hardware open gear logo.  Both of these were significant contributions to the growth in awareness around open source hardware.

By design, no one owns the term “open source hardware” or the open gear logo.  This allowed both the term and the logo to be widely adopted by the community.  However, it also created a challenge.  In many cases, creators would label their hardware as being open source and use the open gear logo without complying with the community definition.  This created confusion in the community where users were unsure what it really meant when something was labeled “open source hardware”.

The certification is designed to complement the existing open gear logo by bringing clarity to how the creator is using the term “open source hardware”.  Unlike the open gear logo, the certification logo is controlled by OSHWA.  In order to use the certification logo, a hardware creator must make a legally binding promise that their hardware complies with the community definition of open source hardware. That means that when users see the certificated open source hardware logo they know the hardware complies with the community definition of open source hardware.

In the summer of 2015, OSHWA asked the community a number of questions about how a certification might work and what kind of value it might bring.  By the 2015 Open Hardware Summit, those discussions had coalesced around version 1 of the Open Source Hardware Certification Specification.  In the year since, OSHWA has worked with the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic at Stanford University Law School to turn that specification into a fully functional registration system.

The System

Starting today, you can register your hardware for free by certifying that it complies with the community definition of open source hardware.  The registration site – certificate.oshwa.org – has an overview of the process, the text of the license agreement for use of the certification logo, guidelines for how the logo can be used, a history of the certification process, an FAQ related to the certification, a form that allows you to register your hardware, and a directory of registered hardware that includes links to relevant documentation and information.

Upon registration, you will receive the right to use the certification logo and a unique identifier for the registered version of your hardware.

oshwacert

That unique ID has two components.  The first two characters represent a country code.  Open source hardware is a worldwide community, and the country code is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate that fact.  The remaining characters are numbers assigned sequentially based on when the hardware was registered.

The Importance of Your Contribution

One of the critical elements of the certification process is the idea of the creator contribution.  Hardware often involves many third party components outside of the control of the designer.  Therefore, it is unreasonable to require every component of a piece of hardware to be fully open before becoming certified.

The creator contribution rule is an attempt to address this issue. In order to certify a piece of hardware, the creator must fully open any elements of the hardware that is within their control.  If they have the legal ability to license it, it must be licensed openly.  If they created documentation, that documentation must be freely distributed.

If components were created by third parties, the creator does not have the ability to license them or distribute the documentation.  In those cases, the creator merely has to disclose the parts in the bill of materials and certify that they are available without an NDA.  This system allow creators to distribute legitimately open source hardware without creating a (currently) unrealistic burden to find fully open components.

Assistance

OSHWA has designed this process to be as user friendly and straightforward as possible.  However, it does require users of the certification to make a legally binding promise that they will only use the certification logo on hardware that complies with the community definition.  We recognize that this sort of legal promise can raise concerns or cause uncertainty for some community members.  Therefore, we encourage users to write in to certification@oshwa.org with questions.

While OSHWA will work hard to answer as many questions as possible, some questions may require legal advice.  That is why we have partnered with the Cardozo Law School Tech Startup Clinic.  The clinic has agreed to receive referrals from OSHWA for free and low-cost legal advice regarding the certification process.  We hope to add additional clinics and resources to this program in the future.  (If you are a lawyer who would like to be involved with the referral program, please contact us at certification@oshwa.org).

About Those Unique IDs

Ever since we started discussing unique IDs that were sequential, we’ve gotten variations of a single question: “how can I get a low number?”  In order to give as many community members as possible the opportunity to obtain a coveted low unique ID number, we have decided not to start issuing numbers until the end of October.  All hardware registered before the end of October will be combined into a single pool, from which we will issue IDs starting November 1.  That means that all pieces of hardware registered before the end of the month have an equal opportunity at low registration numbers.  Starting November 1, we will start issuing IDs as hardware is registered.

Version 1

This is the first version of the OSHWA Open Source Hardware Certification program.  It was designed with a great deal of community input and is intended to complement existing pillars of the community.  We hope that you take a look, try it out, and find it useful.  At the same time, we know that as the certification program grows we will find things that can be improved and applications that we failed to anticipate.  That’s why we welcome your thoughts and ideas in the comments of this post, in the forums, in the certification@oshwa.org inbox, and online @OSHWassociation.

In order to provide that feedback, you first need to check out the certification. So stop reading this blog post, click on over to certificate.oshwa.org, and register something!

Don’t have anything documented enough to register?  Bring a project to one of the Documentation Days around the world (or host your own) as part of Open Hardware Month so you can make it easier for people to build on your stuff.

Open Source Hardware Certification Launching at the Summit

Come for the great speakers and community, stay to find out about the brand new open source hardware certification program (tickets are still available).

After lots of work by lots of people stretching back . . . lots of time, OSHWA is finally ready to unveil our open source hardware certification program.  The certification will be a way for the open source hardware community to know that when a project or product calls itself “open source hardware” they mean the version of “open source hardware” that complies with the community definition of open source hardware.

At the summit we’ll explain how you can get your stuff certified, how you can use the certification to learn more about stuff you get from other people, and other things that you might want to know about the certification.  There’s no substitute for getting that information in person (trust me), so if you don’t already have tickets click here!

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.

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!