• EEVblog #333 – Unwritten Rules of OSHW

    Dave lists the 5 unwritten rules of Open Source Hardware (OSHW), that have essentially been around since the very early electronics magazine project days.
    These are over an above the legal obligations under whatever license is used.

    #1 Don’t clone. Innovate.
    #2 If you sell it, you support it.
    #3 Give the original author a cut
    #4 Respect the wishes of the original author
    #5 Don’t use the original authors name or project name

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      • David

        Go see the TangiBot that looks like an exact clone of the Makerbot Replicator now on Kickstarter for $700 less per unit than the original Makerbot. Looks like TangiBot breaks ALL your OSHW rules.


        Personally, I would have not duplicated the Makerbot Replicator (Rule #1), there are so many things wrong with it IMO. But maybe TangiBot is trying to make a point – that the Makerbot Replicator is hugely over priced(?)

      • allan

        What is “open source hardware”?
        How is it different from the schematics, BOM, and source lists published in electronics magazines, for instance ?

      • Zizzle

        Didn’t Makerbot Industries or whoever is behind the replicator get a massive pile of vulture capital recently?

        I actually hope this Kickstarter eats their lunch – or at least inspires their investor pleasing profit margins.

        This guy is innovating – on price.

        I think this whole episode shows that the OSHW emporer has no clothes. It “Open” only until you treat it that way, then you get lynched by a mob of angry geeks for using their “Open” design.

        • All they ask is that you contribute to the design in some way. Is that too much to ask?

      • tomroberts

        What happens when the open source community takes IP from a commercial product. This has happened with the makerbot and more importantly the leader of the open source reprap movement when the lifted the design of the new hotend from the UP! 3d printer.

      • “Unwritten Rules of OSHW”

        You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

        • What do you think my words mean then?

          • Unwritten rules are not unwritten if you write down a list of them and post them on your blog and in a video.

            I make and sell open source hardware and software, and I don’t expect other people to follow any of these rules you’ve listed. If I did want them to do those things I would use a license that clearly states it. Each of the things you’ve listed, save #2, are easy to include in a license.

            If these are rules that you and some subset of others like to follow, I think that’s great, but saying it’s a unspoken set of rules for the community at large is, I think, stretching it a bit.

            • It’s a social norm. Like, not cheating on your girlfriend or boyfriend. You are not legally obligated not to cheat and few would want to be legally obligated in that way.

              Some folks go for something outside of the social norm with an open relationship or whatever. No problem and no lawyers required.

              The key is that its not a legal arrangement, its a social one. I for one am glad to see a business community engaging one another without suing the pants off of each other at every turn.

              All that said, I agree that the words unwritten/unspoken are not the greatest. OSHW Etiquette might be better.

      • Justin

        Pololu’s president hsf made quite the interesting blog post about OSHW awhile back:


        Think he points out quite the few issues with OSHW, most poinyently from the comercial side. I particularly like this tidbit:

        “If the product is popular enough, others will want to produce it without contributing to the design, and they might be better at manufacturing than the original designer. If the original creator wants to stay involved, he has to invest even more in manufacturing to get an edge there or try to gain some kind of control over the design.”

        I don’t fully agree with him on his views, such as those in ‘Barriers to meaningful participation’, but I think he makes quite the few valid points throughout that seem relevant towards this video.

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