From Open Source Software to Open Source Hardware

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The open source software principles progressively give rise to new initiatives for culture (free culture), data (open data) or hardware (open hardware). The open hardware is experiencing a significant growth but the business models and legal aspects are not well known. This paper is dedicated to the economics of open hardware. We define the open hardware concept and determine intellectual property tools we can apply to open hardware, with a strong focus on open source licenses and practices. We next conduct some case studies in order to determine which licenses and business models are used by open hardware companies. We show some strong similarities with open source software and propose new opportunities for future works. See paper for more details.

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  • 1. Facult PolytechniqueOSS 2012From Open Source Software to OpenSource HardwareDr Ir Robert ViseurThe Eighth International Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS 2012).Hammamet (Tunisia), September 10-13, 2012.

2. Summary Context Definitions Intellectual Property and Business Models Methodology Results Discussion Future WorksUniversit de Mons Dr Ir R. Viseur | FPMs: Service dconomie et de Management de lInnovation 2 3. ContextFirst was open source software (OSS)...Next steps:open access, open data and...open source hardware / open hardware (OSH).Some well-known projects such as LEON freeprocessor.With time:growing interest of companies,popular products such as Arduino.Universit de Mons Dr Ir R. Viseur | FPMs: Service dconomie et de Management de lInnovation 3 4. Definitions Recent definition by Open Hardware Summit(summit.oshwa.org): Open Source Hardware Definition. Based on 12 criteria. Clearly drawned on famous Open Source Definition (OSI, opensource.org). Two kinds of projects: Open source IP Electronic components: cores, controllers, processors,... Open source designs. More complex designs: specialized boards, prototyping boards, machines,...Universit de Mons Dr Ir R. Viseur | FPMs: Service dconomie et de Management de lInnovation 4 5. Intellectual Property and Business Models (1/2) Some items to protect: Source code for electronics, source code for associated softwares, hardware design, aesthetic value, documentations and brands. Various IP tools: Protection for the topographies of semiconductors, industrial design rights, patents, copyrights and trademarks. Expected similarities between OSH and OSS.Universit de Mons Dr Ir R. Viseur | FPMs: Service dconomie et de Management de lInnovation 5 6. Intellectual Property and Business Models (2/2) Open source softwares covered by licenses. Based on copyright (sometimes: clauses about patents and trademarks). Copyleft (LGPL, GPL, MPL,...) or not (BSD, MIT,...). Specific open hardware licenses such as TAPR or CERN Open Hardware License. Business models strongly influenced by licenses. In open source software, revenue creation by: Selling services (new developments, training, hosting,...). Selling softwares (dual licensing scheme or sale of addons)Universit de Mons Dr Ir R. Viseur | FPMs: Service dconomie et de Management de lInnovation 6 7. Methodology Objectives: Identify emergent practices (mainly about relations between companies, and between companies and communities). Determine business models and licenses used by companies. Methodology: 11 case studies by analyzing organisations with commercial OSH activities. Sources: Projects websites and articles about projects owners (interviews, presentations). Public documents about projects.Universit de Mons Dr Ir R. Viseur | FPMs: Service dconomie et de Management de lInnovation 7 8. Results (1/2) Business models:Universit de Mons Dr Ir R. Viseur | FPMs: Service dconomie et de Management de lInnovation 8 9. Results (2/2) Licenses: Open source licenses used for source code: BSD, GPL and LGPL. Hardware design also covered by Creative Commons (mainly CC-BY-SA). One project covered by license for OSH (TAPR license). Implementation: License not always clearly noticed. Source code distributed with public tools (Github, Google Code or Sourceforge).Universit de Mons Dr Ir R. Viseur | FPMs: Service dconomie et de Management de lInnovation 9 10. Discussion (1/2) Protection provided by Creative Commons? Written for cultural contents, not for hardware. No clause about patents (as GPL v3). Use of GPL (restrictive license): Less problematic for OSH? The companies sell tangible, manufactured products. Need to control process from source code to out-of-the box products.Kind of barrier to entry.Universit de Mons Dr Ir R. Viseur | FPMs: Service dconomie et de Management de lInnovation 10 11. Discussion (2/2) Forks are possible with hardware, too. Cases: OpenSPARC: simpification of the product (friendly fork). Arduino: trademarks issues and search for lower prices. Similar to forks in Open Source software field. Possible with more complex machines?Universit de Mons Dr Ir R. Viseur | FPMs: Service dconomie et de Management de lInnovation 11 12. Future works Increase the number of studied companies. Establish links with other theoretical frameworks (fablabs, peer-production,...). Study in greater detail the interactions between users communities and companies. How do the companies overcome the barriers to contribute? Proposed methods: questionnaires sent to projects leaders or tracking of activities in collaborative tools.Universit de Mons Dr Ir R. Viseur | FPMs: Service dconomie et de Management de lInnovation 12 13. Q&A Thank you for your attention.Any question? This slideshow is published under CC-BY-ND license.Universit de MonsDr Ir R. Viseur | FPMs: Service dconomie et de Management de lInnovation 13 14. Acknowledgments This research was initiated by the Faculty ofEngineering of UMons (www.umons.ac.be) andbenefited of support from DG06(spw.wallonie.be) with the CELLaVI project conducted by CETIC (www.cetic.be).Universit de Mons Dr Ir R. Viseur | FPMs: Service dconomie et de Management de lInnovation 14 15. Contact Dr Ir Robert Viseur Teaching Assistant @UMONS UMONS, Facult Polytechnique Rue de Houdain, 9 B-7000 Mons Mail: robert.viseur@umons.ac.be WWW: www.umons.ac.be Senior Technology Advisor @CETIC CETIC Rue des Frres Wright, 29/3 B-6041 Charleroi Mail: robert.viseur@cetic.be WWW: www.cetic.be More information: www.robertviseur.beUniversit de Mons Dr Ir R. Viseur | FPMs: Service dconomie et de Management de lInnovation 15