3. Licensing Open Source Hardware

Michael Weinberg

“Gu’s shoulders slumped, and Juan got a closer look at the component boxes. Every one had physical signage: NO USER–SERVICEABLE PARTS WITHIN.”

—Vernor Vinge, Rainbows End

For many people, a key component of open source is the license that is attached to the project. But what is a license, and what role does licensing play in open source hardware? This chapter covers the different types of intellectual property (IP) and the basics of IP licensing with respect to open source hardware. The good news is that most hardware is born open. Unless it is explicitly covered by a patent, most hardware is available to be copied, improved, and built upon by default. This chapter is written from the perspective ...

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