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Query on GPLv3

Query on GPLv3

(OP)
Dear All,

I am currently planning to start a open source hardware project. I wold like to licence my project under GPLv3 and i have a few query in the GPLv3.

This product i am planning is a solar charger

1) The hardware i am planning is open source (i will upload all the source and design file online in a repository). Does GPL restrict me or any one else from manufacturing and selling this product?

2) This charger will interface to a led light and a battery, though the charger is open source hardware the led light and the battery are not (they are ready made product brought off the shelf). Does GPL restrict this in any way (interfacing with a proprietary products)?

I have read the licence and i believe that GPL does not restrict me in the above two cases but i just need to have a second opinion, why second make that a lot of other peoples opinion :).

If there are any other Open Hardware licence available let me know. (The CERN and TAPR seems to be less evolved in my humble opinion).

Thanks
Regards
Gokkul

RE: Query on GPLv3

Gokkul55,

The GPL is not for Open Source. It is for Free Software. The purpose of the GPL is to remove all restrictions on the use and modification of software. You and everyone else are allowed to sell GPL software, as long as you provide the source code.

The application of this to hardware is interesting. Presumably, you will have to deliver your charger with a complete set of drawings in some Free format. DXF? Forget using 3D parametric CAD. Don't forget to include your design calculations. Open Source could limit rights to manufacture your charger. The whole point of GPL is that we all can manufacture it.

--
JHG

RE: Query on GPLv3

(OP)
drawoh

Thanks for the info, i see there is bit of a confusion going on in the community about Free Software and Open Source (just googled some right now :) ).

My idea here is to create hardware products that can be manufactured in the same way free software are made. (I hope i am clear there). To do so i am willing to release all the source through a repository. The source here would be electronic and mechanical CAD files, and other documentation related to the product design.

I not only am willing to let others manufacture my design, but i too am planning to manufacture the same and sell it.

So the i need to know a suitable license option for this.

Most of the products that i am planning will be some social-economic cause as well as have environmental benefits. I beleive that the free software community's effort can be channeled in this direction too :).

Quote (drawoh)

Open Source could limit rights to manufacture your charger.
Could you please tell me how?

Thanks
Regards
Gokkul

RE: Query on GPLv3

Gokkul55,

Open Source simply means you can see the source code. The software can be proprietary. You can say "Here are my drawings and calculations. Do not manufacture this without my permission.". GPL absolutely removes restrictions to the end user. Read through Richard M. Stallman's stuff on http://www.gnu.org. Keep in mind that this is all about software, not hardware.

--
JHG

RE: Query on GPLv3

(OP)

Quote (drawoh)

Open Source simply means you can see the source code. The software can be proprietary.

I plan to go with GPLv3, free software :).

Thanks
Regards
Gokkul

RE: Query on GPLv3

A few years back I followed the open-hardware discussions, but I'm not up-to-date. A few things come to mind:

* You don't publish hardware, you publish a document. look at GPL or maybe creative commons licenses.
* Copyright licenses tell others what to do or not with the document you publish, but ...
* to activly hinder someone from building and selling something, you'd need to patent it. The reverse holds true: if there's no patent, everyone can build and sell the hardware. Since you are unlikely to invent anything patentable and probably can't afford a patent anyway, that point is moot
* If your charger contains software, then the GPL may be interesting for that also

Now, the further discussion that "anyone can download and build it like OS software", well that's an interesting discussion.
Whoever downloads your design will need the hardware, tools and skills to build it. I would think it'be nice if the CAD files are readable and modifyable on free or OS software, but you could argue that if someone has to buy hardware tools he might as well buy software tools

RE: Query on GPLv3

MartinLe,

You can copyright your documentation. Your copyright can, like the GPL, allow people to follow the documentation. You can provide the original CAD and office suite files.

You can take out a patent, and then again, allow people to build and modify the product. This involves considerably more risk than allowing people to modify software. Some home handymen could himself in a lot of trouble if he does not understand your instructions, or if he does ill considered modifications.

Read up on the flying flea. Apparently, according to sources other than Wikipedia, workmanship was a problem with these things.

Patents are messy. Either you spend the money, time and effort to get your design patented, or someone else will patent it and demand royalties. You will spend money, time and effort proving your prior art.

Linux had problems with their trademark.

--
JHG

RE: Query on GPLv3

(OP)
Thanks for all your inputs. Right now i am planning to go with GPLv3 for all the software and and also for all the CAD files of the hardware.

I am currently working on a design and will upload the files once they are good enough to manufacture. I don't want to include files that are in the prototype stage initially.

Based on all the above discussion i see that licencing a hardware project is difficult, but let me built and share something first. My idea is to create a open hardware design repository which people can use.

Let us see how far it goes. :)

Thanks
Regards
Gokkul

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