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CERN OHL v.1.2 call for comments

The CERN Open Hardware License version 1.2 is available for comments and feedback. "The main changes were introduced in article 3 of the licence. One point in particular is still under discussion and concerns article 3.3(e) – attempting to send modifications to the Licensors whose design was modified and those who requested it. On the one hand questions of practicalities arise – does every minor modification/debugging need to be sent to everyone? – while on the other it may be perceived as a fair return, for contributors, to be notified of modifications that were made. Your input and suggestions on this point are most welcome!" (Thanks to Paul Wise)
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CERN OHL v.1.2 call for comments

Posted Jan 30, 2012 21:43 UTC (Mon) by jebba (✭ supporter ✭, #4439) [Link]

"[he shall] attempt to send a copy of the modified Documentation to all Licensors that contributed to the parts of the Documentation that were modified, as well as to any other Licensor who has requested to receive a copy of the modified Documentation and has provided a means of contact with the Documentation."

Wow. Most open hardware so far has few licensors, but there is no reason to think it can't grow large like software projects. Can you imagine if these terms applied to the kernel?

CERN OHL v.1.2 call for comments

Posted Jan 30, 2012 22:13 UTC (Mon) by alvieboy (subscriber, #51617) [Link]

I guess a mailing list would suffice :P

Sincerely (as you can read in my post) I think this won't succeed.

Alvie

CERN OHL v.1.2 call for comments

Posted Jan 31, 2012 9:00 UTC (Tue) by philippe.faes (guest, #82660) [Link]

Concerning 3.3.e: Most of the popular open source software licenses do not _require_ people to send patches back to the original authors. In the spirit of open source, this happens naturally. What usually happens is that a project lives on a certain website (like Google Code or Sourceforge) and people send patches and improvements to the maintainer of the project. This works perfectly well.

It seems cumbersome if people have to send dozens of emails for every small improvement. Also, some licensors may no longer be interested in updates of a hardware project that they worked on fifteen years ago.

In conclusion, I would propose that section 3.3.e be removed from the license.

CERN OHL v.1.2 call for comments

Posted Jan 31, 2012 14:52 UTC (Tue) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

Agreed. The FSF doesn't regard licences requiring upstream notification as Free Software licences. Some examples:

The background for that position is in the definition of Free Software, of course. It would be onerous to have to notify everyone who ever had anything to do with a genuinely collaborative project.

CERN OHL v.1.2 call for comments

Posted Jan 30, 2012 22:01 UTC (Mon) by alvieboy (subscriber, #51617) [Link]

This is the first time I read about this license, and as such I might sound like an ignorant, but:

Does this license aim to be to Hardware as GPLv3 is to Software ?

If it does, I don't think it will succeed.

A few notes:

First of all, section 2.3:

"This Licence does not apply to software, firmware, or code loaded into programmable devices [...]. The[ir] use of such software, firmware, or code is subject to the applicable licence terms and conditions"

This license apparently cannot be applied to my designs (which can be ran on an FPGA). Depending on how broad is your definition of "programmable device", you can even state that a FSM design on an FPGA is some sort of "firmware", because it's implemented as a ROM (hence being a firmware, despite being modifiable or not in run time).

Explicitly saying that firmware/software is not at all covered by this license is weird. All digital hardware designs implement some sort of sequencers, at least, which can be seen (and modelled) with "programming" languages.

Section 3.4 is the most "innovative", but it omits patents not held by the licensor. So, a design released under this license might be not as free as one might think.

And then we have 4.2: "The Licensee is invited to inform in writing any Licensor who has indicated its wish to receive this information about the type, quantity and dates of production of Products the Licensee has (had) manufactured". I don't recall the exact meaning of "invited", since I am not a native English speaker, but I can clearly see one of two:

a) You are politely obligated to communicate this information, otherwise
b) there's no reason at all for it to be stated in the license.

Just to wrap up, I also feel calling "Documentation" to an hardware design, and since this term does not apply to Software, is pretty much saying that it somehow follows different rules. It, however, does not.

Is this an "official" CERN thing ?

Alvie

CERN OHL v.1.2 call for comments

Posted Jan 31, 2012 10:08 UTC (Tue) by gioele (subscriber, #61675) [Link]

> 3.3(e) – attempting to send modifications to the Licensors whose design was modified and those who requested it.

Is this kind of request compatible with the DFSG? It would be a shame if Debian could not distribute the source files to open hardware.

> On the one hand questions of practicalities arise – does every minor modification/debugging need to be sent to everyone?

Is there such a thing as a minor modification? The are many critical fixes are in fact one-liners.

CERN OHL v.1.2 call for comments

Posted Feb 1, 2012 0:33 UTC (Wed) by josh (subscriber, #17465) [Link]

Debian does not consider licenses DFSG-compliant if they prohibit private changes or require contacting the original author. The details of how that relates to the letter of the DFSG remain ongoing subjects of periodic vigorous discussion, but in practice you won't get bits into Debian main with such a license.

CERN OHL v.1.2 call for comments

Posted Jan 31, 2012 13:01 UTC (Tue) by tzafrir (subscriber, #11501) [Link]

"2.1. ... By exercising any right granted under this Licence, the Licensee irrevocably accepts these terms and conditions.
...
3.2 The Licensee may use, copy, communicate to the public and distribute verbatim copies of the Documentation ..."

Does this mean that using the documentation requires me to agree to the terms of the license?

CERN OHL v.1.2 call for comments

Posted Feb 2, 2012 22:04 UTC (Thu) by idupree (guest, #71169) [Link]

Is it a copyright license or some other kind of license? (I can't tell from this post.) If it's copyright, then the way the law goes, *copying* the documentation requires you to agree to the terms of the documentation's license. It doesn't have anything to do with what the text of the license says. *Reading* the documentation may or may not constitute copying it (IANAL; I think the answer may vary depending on circumstances, jurisdiction, and whether you have a good lawyer).


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