For Approval: Open Source Hardware License

Brendan Scott (lists) lists at
Fri Jul 6 01:33:30 UTC 2007

Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M. wrote:
> "open hardware" license sounds like a matter for serious
> discussion.  Two questions come to mind immediately: (1) what kind of


> copyrightable work does "hardware" refer to, and (2) if the subject of
> the license  is a "literary work," why wouldn't an existing open source
> software license be sufficient?
> Even if one could argue that an open hardware license would protect a
> machine design, the question remains whether such is subject to copyright.

On the generic issue (not the specific licence proposed):

"Subject to copyright" is an issue with all open source licences.  Some choose to specifically limit themselves to copyright, others express their permissions in terms of activities.  

I would assume open source hardware would raise different issues in different jurisdictions because of different sui generis legislation.  Eg. here in AU we have circuit layouts and designs legislation, each of which could conceivably apply.  Prima facie copyright could also apply depending on some not-entirely-simple provisions covering the applicability of copyright when the work is also eligible for design/circuit layout protection.  

I would guess therefore that a licence for open source hardware would be better expressed in terms of activites.   


More information about the License-discuss mailing list