Author Topic: Publicly posting schematics with non-distributable dependencies  (Read 2706 times)

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Offline dkonigs

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So I've been working on a project for a while, and I think its finally time to start organizing my "private" Git repositories for it and start posting the content somewhere public (e.g. GitHub). The majority of the content consists of KiCad project files and component libraries, which I have no problem redistributing. However, the same is not true for many of the components' 3D models.

Nearly every manufacturer has publicly available 3D models for their components (for items not already in KiCad's own libraries). However, most of these manufacturers also slap some sort of "do not redistribute" legalese on top of these CAD files. (They seem to do it almost by default, whether or not it makes any sense.)

Once you start using 3D visualization of your PCB, its kinda addictive to add 3D models for everything on the board. As such, I have a directory full of them in my project. Some I created myself. However, most of them are the manufacturer's model (STEP file) that I ran through some FreeCAD scripts to get in the right format for KiCad.

If I collect my project as-is, I'd have to remove 75% of the content in my "3d models" directory before I could redistribute it.

One option would be to add a document to the project with instructions on how to download/convert manufacturer models into the files the project expects. I'd then keep my own private repo of these files, and copy from there into my own local checkouts. Cumbersome, and unlikely that anyone else would realistically populate the 3D models into their checkout, but I suppose its better than nothing.

Has anyone else ever dealt with a similar situation? Does anyone know of examples of other projects that have dealt with similar issues?
 

Online T3sl4co1l

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Re: Publicly posting schematics with non-distributable dependencies
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2018, 06:11:46 pm »
Meh?

If one of them sees it, worst is you get a C&D (possibly including GitHub automatically removing the project, mind; check their terms), so you remove the model from the design and find a substitute at their closest competitor.

Clearly they don't want business; why get between them and their refusal of money?

Strictly speaking, yes, you should scrub those from the design, or if you care, build a near-enough copy from scratch.

I suspect the potential legal consequences are so small it's not even worth doing.  But interested to hear others' opinions on the matter.

Tim
Seven Transistor Labs, LLC
Electronic design, from concept to prototype.
Bringing a project to life?  Send me a message!
 

Offline station240

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Re: Publicly posting schematics with non-distributable dependencies
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2018, 09:20:11 pm »
You could argue it's a derivative work, it's not their STEP file, it's your KiCad file.
I suspect the usage restriction is so they can take people to court for selling their files.
 

Offline dkonigs

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Re: Publicly posting schematics with non-distributable dependencies
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2018, 03:47:54 am »
I'm not sure anyone who has commented on this thread so far has actually run into the issue of license squabbles before. Its a well-worn topic in the open source software world, but perhaps one that far fewer care about (yet) in the hardware world.

In any case, I just did a review of the few 3D models I've pulled into my project, and have come to the following assessments (per manufacturer):

JST (various connectors)
- do not redistribute, confidential and for internal use, yadda, yadda...
(Some of their connectors have models in the KiCad repos, but not the ones I'm using.)

Hirose Electric (microSD slot)
- do not distribute, for your own personal use, yadda, yadda...

CUI (power connectors)
- No legalese around download

Memory Protection Devices (CR2032 connector)
- No legalese around download

The official models I've pulled in from these sources are STEP files. The FreeCad/KiCad conversion step turns them into WRL files. I have both in my project, since they both have different uses (at least with KiCad 4.x). As of KiCad 5.x, its likely I'll actually wind up using just the STEP files for everything.

My current temptation is to just include everything, except in cases where there's a specific note from the Manufacturer telling me not to. In those cases, its unclear whether its actually okay to include a generated WRL if I've been told to not distribute/modify the STEP. Probably safer not to, on the off chance someone decides to care.
 

Offline NorthGuy

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Re: Publicly posting schematics with non-distributable dependencies
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2018, 07:48:12 am »
Other than cool looks, 3-D models are not essential for PCB design. It wouldn't be a big deal to drop them.
 

Offline dkonigs

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Re: Publicly posting schematics with non-distributable dependencies
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2018, 08:57:31 am »
Other than cool looks, 3-D models are not essential for PCB design. It wouldn't be a big deal to drop them.

For the most part, this is true. However, they are useful (well, some of them) when you want to export the complete PCB as a 3D model to test form/fit in a CAD model of the enclosure. Of course they're also technically just eye candy to that CAD model, once its finished. (And I'm going to struggle with similar issues, in a more awkward manner, when it comes time to publish the models for the enclosure. Worst case, I can always just post a "stripped" version.)
 

Offline donotdespisethesnake

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Re: Publicly posting schematics with non-distributable dependencies
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2018, 06:02:22 pm »
I have been distributing manufacturer sourced models with my projects for years, never had a problem. I would venture to say that no manufacturer will really care or that any action has ever been taken against an "infringer", it is just legal CYA.

Bob
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Offline dmills

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Re: Publicly posting schematics with non-distributable dependencies
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2018, 08:19:03 am »
While I generally agree on step models and things derived from them this is not true for other similar things.
One place to be a little careful is accidentally distributing FPGA IP cores, the files used to configure them are generally fine, but the generated intermediate files can be the sort of thing surrounded by lawyers on all sides.

Regards, Dan.
 

Offline Richard Crowley

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Re: Publicly posting schematics with non-distributable dependencies
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2018, 01:20:06 am »
...However, they are useful (well, some of them) when you want to export the complete PCB as a 3D model to test form/fit in a CAD model of the enclosure.
But you could simply substitute a generic rectangle or cylinder if that is important?
 

Offline Siwastaja

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Re: Publicly posting schematics with non-distributable dependencies
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2018, 06:33:37 am »
I'm with Teslacoil in this; it's extremely improbable that it's going to cause any real issues, and in the worst case, you need to say "sorry" - and even this seems quite remote. We tend to be totally hysteric about copyright infringements today. Sure, don't torrent a movie if you don't want to take the miniscule risk of totally out-of-place consequences. But this is very different.

Sometimes, you need to think about:
1) your moral,
2) practical life

instead of going too theoretical about what could happen in a totally fucked-up world.

This being said, if you do want to get all theoretical, you are doing it very very wrong already:
It's clear from your text that you are under an assumption/impression that the manufacturers need to add those "do not redistribute" clauses, and these clauses are your problem. This is not the case, not at all. The "do not redistribute" is the default, almost everywhere, by law, through international copyright law harmonization agreements. The text is mostly a reminder (and may be required in some jurisdictions).

On the other hand, there are countless of exceptions which allows you to do that. The lack of "do not redistribute" clause is not one of them.

If you are working under this assumption, you have possibly already included stuff that lacked these babbles and thought it was OK. Guess what? It wasn't OK, from the purely law's viewpoint. So if this is the case and you have already done it, it's equally OK to keep doing this, even when there is this "babble", since it doesn't change anything. Be practical, moral and sensible, and everything will be well. No one has been ever sued for distributing a simple 3D model of a 0603 resistor, and I'm ready to eat my hat if this happens to you.

TLDR: just do it.


As a generic side note, our mechanical designer doesn't like 100-megabyte models of complex PCBs that include detailed models of every 0402 resistor and every via. It eats up all his CPU, for no real reason whatsoever.

Sure, the nice step models look so fancy and great, but I have downgraded and went back to simplified primitive 3D shapes, which look good enough if not totally fancy-pancy, and are way more practical. Also, there's a chance to draw them correctly: the step models off the 'net are most likely done wrong (for example, using "typical" measurements even though you should be using maximum values to guarantee clearance!)

The best "render" ever will be the actual photograph of the finished product.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2018, 06:40:58 am by Siwastaja »
 


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