[License-review] For Approval – CERN Open Hardware Licence Version 2– Strongly Reciprocal (SPDX: CERN-OHL-S-2.0); CERN Open Hardware Licence Version 2– Weakly Reciprocal (SPDX: CERN-OHL-W-2.0); CERN Open Hardware Licence Version 2– Permissive (SPDX: CERN-OHL-P-2.0)

Pamela Chestek pamela at chesteklegal.com
Mon Dec 14 01:52:19 UTC 2020

Hi all,

I am inclined towards approving this license. I thank Andrew for his 
explanation of "Complete Source" that allayed my concerns about the 
scope. I was misreading the definition of "Complete Source," which says 
"the set of all Source necessary to Make a Product," as "the Source for 
everything used to Make a Product."

As to Josh's concerns, I read the license for the case where it was used 
solely for software and could find no flaws. It's not a license that I 
think anyone would suggest should be used for a pure software, but it's 
not the only special purpose license we have (CAL comes immediately to 
mind). So while it's a bit of a brain teaser for software, it works as 
far as I can see and there will be no unintended (or anti-open source) 
effects. Josh's criticisms also seem more directed at the explanatory 
materials rather than the license terms per se.

What do others think?


Pamela S. Chestek
Chestek Legal
PO Box 2492
Raleigh, NC 27602
pamela at chesteklegal.com
(919) 800-8033

On 11/25/2020 12:51 PM, Javier Serrano wrote:
> On 11/21/20 12:36 AM, Josh Berkus wrote:
>> On 11/19/20 11:36 AM, Javier Serrano wrote:
>>> The gateware use case is a central one for us. The lack of adequate
>>> weakly and strongly reciprocal options for HDL was one of the main
>>> reasons to draft v2 of the licence. I may have been a bit sloppy 
>>> with my
>>> wording in the FAQ. What I meant by software was non-gateware software.
>>> To the extent that gateware is software, as explained above, I think
>>> CERN OHL v2 is not only applicable, but a licence I would very much
>>> recommend.
>> The FAQ doesn't address gateware either, at least not by name.
>> Presumably that's what it's addressing when it talks about "design
>> software"?
> This is the FAQ URL: https://ohwr.org/project/cernohl/wikis/faq
> As you can see, there is an explanation in it of our use of the term 
> "gateware", and no reference to "design software". Maybe you are 
> looking at a different document? In any case, no, "design software" 
> and "gateware" are two different things. We reserve the term 
> "gateware" for files typically written in Hardware Description 
> Languages (HDL) such as VHDL or Verilog. These files describe hardware 
> and are input to simulation or synthesis depending on whether you are 
> verifying your design or using it as a basis to make or configure 
> hardware.
>> That actually is fairly well spelled-out in the FAQ, if so.  And it's
>> really not fundamentally different from the compiler case in copyleft
>> software.
>> But ... the FAQ doesn't address non-gateware software at all. If we're
>> evaluating that use-case on this list, it think it's critical to
>> identify how you see the various "kinds" of source playing out with a
>> standard software + 3rd-party library situation.
> We write about non-gateware software in this FAQ entry:
> https://ohwr.org/project/cernohl/wikis/faq#q-my-project-includes-hardware-and-software-how-do-i-make-sure-the-whole-product-is-distributed-together-and-stays-open-source 
> My contention in the previous message I sent is that gateware can be 
> considered software and is actually the type of software we care about 
> most in the context of CERN OHL v2, since we don't actively recommend, 
> in principle, its use for non-gateware software.
> Anyway, to answer your question directly: you will find if you read 
> the license texts that applying the P variant to software will have an 
> effect similar to that of Apache 2. In an analogous way, W will behave 
> roughly like LGPL3 and S will behave as GPL3. This is of course 
> approximate, but quite accurate in particular regarding the "standard 
> software + 3rd-party library" scenario you mention. You cannot 
> distribute a binary made of a combination of proprietary and 
> CERN-OHL-S sources, but you can if you use the W variant instead of 
> the S variant.
> I hope this answers your questions. I am preparing a presentation on 
> the CERN OHL for next Tuesday [1] and I will make sure I include 
> details on using the three variants of the license for software and 
> hardware, with a dedicated chapter on the particular case of gateware.
> Cheers,
> Javier
> [1] 
> https://www.ch-open.ch/en/online-presentation-cern-open-hardware-licence/ 
> (tricky time if you are in the US)
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