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Open hardware license draft invites comment

Feb 5, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

An international ham radio club that originated in Tucson, Ariz. is inviting public comment on a draft license governing open hardware designs. The Tucson Amateur Packet Radio (TAPR) club's Open Hardware License (OHL) version 0.9 is available online for comment and discussion through March 7.

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TAPR says its OHL was designed to help hardware designers engage in collaborative development, “just as open source programmers do today.” Although described as a hardware license, the OHL actually outlines the use, copying, modification, and distribution of hardware documentation, including schematics, circuit board layouts, mechanical drawings, flow charts, descriptive text, and “other explanatory material.”

The license was written by long-time TAPR member John Ackermann (N8UR), with input from Bruce Perens (K6BP). Perens, a long-time amateur radio operator and TAPR club member, says the license resembles the Open Source Definition he created in 1998 as part of the Debian Free Software Guidelines.

The OHL diverges from typical open source software definitions in two key areas, however. The first is an immunity provision that makes documentation users promise not to sue one other over patents. The second actually requires users to pro-actively email any modifications to upstream developers, in order to facilitate the sharing of “fixes for safety issues,” TAPR says.

Additional details, including the full text of version 0.9 of the OHL license, can be found here. A discussion forum for the license, located at Perens's website, can be found here.

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