[ppc-mobo] GNU License for Hardware

John Metzger john_metzger at worldnet.att.net
Tue Oct 12 03:41:11 UTC 1999

> The attached Licnese is the OpenIP Hardware public license. The license
> covers OpenHardware designes a la GPL.
>                    OpenIP General Hardware Public License
>      Draft Version 0.15-111099 October 1999
>  Copyright (C) 1999  OpenIP Organization.
> Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this
> license document, but changing it is not allowed.
> OpenIP/OpenCore License terms.
> 1. This license applies to hardware designs including the design ideas,

What makes you think you can license an idea? (Licenses have to be backed by
things that are copyrightable, patentable, trademarkable... As I understand
it, (not a lawyer but my IP lawyer buddy said...) to be licensable something
has to be protected under some other from of IP protection such as
copyright, patent, trademark, etc.)

> architectures, microcode instructions source and supporting files (e.g.
> schematics, net-lists, HDLs, PCB layouts, chip & silicon cells layouts,
> Timing diagrams, truth tables, flow charts, state diagrams, block diagrams,
> ....

> 2. You may copy, publish, distribute or/and implement this Hardware Design
> or any portion of it as is. Any time you copy or distribute this design you
> have to provide all of the source files and documentations that came with the

Define distribute. What does provide mean? Provide what? In what manner? To

> 3. Any modifications of this hardware design or any derivative work from it
> should be documented and protected by the same license.

I agree, use should but not must.

> The term Derivative work means any changes, improvements or porting the
> original work to other environments or platforms ...

> 4. There are three types of derivative works.
>    a. The first one is to modify the original design files ( e.g.
> schematics, HDLs, Architectures, chip or PCB Layouts) and get some new
> improvements or features.
>    b. Porting the source files into different EDA or system environments.
> This includes porting HDLs to different simulators, synthesis tools or
> target hardware. Redrawing Schematics on different tools.

That one I believe is not copyright protectable, hence not coverable by a

> Changing the
> format of the design among any of the following formats: HDLs, schematics,
> Chip or PCB layout, net-list extraction. Porting the design to different
> board chip or packaging technologies.
>    c. In case the design introduces a new Hardware Design ideas, algorithm
> or architectures, or even if it is itself one of those, any physical
> implementation or by schematics, HDLs, layouts, net-lists or any other form
> that describes the design except the ordinal is considered as a derived work.

This is so broadly drawn I don't think it's enforceable.

> 4. Works based on the hardware design should be protected also by the same
> Based work can be one or all of the followings:
>  Using the whole or part of the design as is and put (integrate) it in a
> new system or new platform. That includes plugging the HDL code, schematic,
> PCB or chip layout to a chip, board, new set of schematics or even any form
> of description a design (documents, block diagram, flow charts, state
> diagrams tables).

Again, I don't believe given current law you can enforce all of that.

> 5. No one can sell the Hardware Design itself, its derivatives or any work
> based on it.

Why not? That means I can't sell a chip based any of the open hardware
cells. I have to give them away. That will get a lot of them produced.

> Physical implementation of the Hardware design can be sold
> only if all design source files that came with the original work and
> documentation made available for the user.

I'll supply them on paper. (printed in 6 pt type).

Preventing open/free and closed/non-free hardware cells from being mixed is
not what this group should do as it is not in the best interest of producing
lots of advanced hardware.

> 6. You are not required to accept this License, since you have not signed
> it.  However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute
> the hardware design or its derivative works.  These actions are prohibited
> by law if you do not accept this License.

Are you certain? They don't seem entirely legal to me.


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