[cc-community] The Question of Manufacturing Copyleft
zotz at 100jamz.com
Wed Oct 31 00:02:36 EDT 2007
On Tuesday 30 October 2007 19:33:53 Terry Hancock wrote:
> Hi All,
> I don't know if this is the appropriate forum, but I'm hoping to find
> some fresh perspectives on a problem that exists with Open Hardware
> licensing. This is not really a question about Creative Commons
> licenses, since none of them carry a "source code" requirement, but it
> is about free culture in general.
> The problem occurs when trying to emulate the free software model of
> copyleft with regard to hardware products.
> In this view, the "compilation" step for hardware is the physical
> *manufacturing* of individual objects from a copylefted design. From
> this PoV, a "copyleft" would need to apply to the manufacturing step,
> not just steps which copy the design.
> In general, though, manufactured objects are not covered by copyright
> (there may be a few exceptions, but most products aren't).
> So, for example, it is not generally the case (or so I believe) that
> building circuit boards based on a copyrighted design constitutes
> "copying" the design (or "deriving" from it, either).
> I believe that for the purposes of copyright, such practices are simply
> "use", which is generally unregulated.
Just off the top of my head... I would explore something along these lines...
No right to make copies or derivatives or distribute unless the license is
agreed to. The state what you want.
OK, with this, they would not be able to make internal copies unless they
Copyright gives you exclusive rights in a few areas, no need to restrict
yourself to using only one of those rights in crafting the license you want.
It is late however and IANAL, so if this sounds whacked, run it by me again.
> This means that the copyleft on a license like the GPL breaks down at
> the manufacturing step. Unless a manufacturer has a compelling reason to
> distribute their derived plans for an object, they have no obligation to
> share their improvements under the GPL (or so I believe).
> However, for a strong hardware copyleft, we would ideally like the
> manufacturing and distribution of products from an original or derived
> Open Hardware design to impose a copyleft requirement -- i.e. that the
> end user would be entitled to receive a copy of the design from which
> the product was made. Or put the other way, the manufacturer would be
> obliged to provide access to such data.
> Can a license on the design documents require such a thing in an
> enforceable way?
> I have heard claims that copyleft cannot enforce anything beyond the
> limits of copyright. I've also heard claims that it can.
> Even if it can, there must be limits on how broad such a copyleft can be.
> Unfortunately, most of the people doing the claiming have no legal
> background, and neither do I. So I don't know what to believe.
> I wish for the present not to discuss the *ethics* of this kind of
> copyleft -- that's a whole other can of worms, so to speak. But for the
> present, I'd just like to know if such a license is a legal possibility.
all the best,
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