Author Topic: Projects released with no license  (Read 4964 times)

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Online jaromir

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Projects released with no license
« on: March 06, 2014, 01:54:22 pm »
Hello,
There is a lot of electronics projects around the web released with no license at all. Is it public domain? Can one copy/modify/use/sell those projects?
 

Offline mazurov

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Re: Projects released with no license
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2014, 08:25:17 pm »
It depends on the country where you live and the country where the author of the project lives. For example, in the US the work is copyrighted by default, i.e., no notice means you can't use it even if all necessary information is released. However, I'm yet to meet a Chinese who would honor that - any IP is fair game for them, including IP created in China.

This all makes sense only if you are making money out of the design in question. For personal/internal purposes you can use any available information - including patents.



 
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: Projects released with no license
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2014, 09:09:33 pm »
You should also consider that a good bunch of these projects are in turn ripoffs from someone else's project or datasheets. Whole websites try to make a living by publishing circuits they "found" on the net.

Just an example:

This one is clearly ripoff from an Elector publication http://www.eleccircuit.com/regulated-dc-power-supply-variable-output-0-60v-1a/ and that doesn't change just because the ripper added his own watermark.
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Offline danb35

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Re: Projects released with no license
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2014, 09:52:56 pm »
For personal/internal purposes you can use any available information - including patents.
Although this is common practice, it isn't legally correct.  Patents, in particular, are exclusive, and there is no "fair use" exception.  Fair use is an issue in copyright law, but that still doesn't mean that you can copy copyrighted works wholesale as long as you aren't making money on it.
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: Projects released with no license
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2014, 10:07:55 pm »
For personal/internal purposes you can use any available information - including patents.
Although this is common practice, it isn't legally correct.  Patents, in particular, are exclusive, and there is no "fair use" exception.
What? Patents protect the commercial use, and that's it.
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Offline sync

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Re: Projects released with no license
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2014, 10:11:12 pm »
Although this is common practice, it isn't legally correct.  Patents, in particular, are exclusive, and there is no "fair use" exception.
Here in Germany and I think in the whole EU patents doesn't cover private non-commercial use.
 

Offline johansen

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Re: Projects released with no license
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2014, 10:24:16 pm »
so you change one resistor and claim it's new artwork..

a relative of mine wrote some music that Disney used in a major production that is known worldwide.
said relative of mine was 9 or 10 when she wrote the music, iirc.

Disney changed one note at the end of the piece, you almost can't even hear it.
of course they got away with it, that's what lawyers are for.
 

Online jaromir

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Re: Projects released with no license
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2014, 11:43:54 pm »
Thanks,
I'm asking because it seems like one Canadian (not Chinese) company sells project of somebody else, without his agreement. The project was not released under any license, so I'm just curious whether it is his fault or the company behaves unfair.
The author tried to contact the company and they claim the project is their work. Funny is that they claim their support to open-hardware community.

In fact, I don't want to stir this problem any further - I was just curious about opinions.


By the way, most of my projects are released with no license too. I make it boring and useless enough to prevent anybody from copying it  8)
 

Online EEVblog

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Re: Projects released with no license
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2014, 11:55:04 pm »
There is a lot of electronics projects around the web released with no license at all. Is it public domain? Can one copy/modify/use/sell those projects?

Can you use the design and modify it for your own use? yes, mostly likely.
Can you copy it and re-display it publicly? no, that's a violation of their automatic copyright.
 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: Projects released with no license
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2014, 06:09:51 am »
You should also consider that a good bunch of these projects are in turn ripoffs from someone else's project or datasheets. Whole websites try to make a living by publishing circuits they "found" on the net.

Just an example:

This one is clearly ripoff from an Elector publication http://www.eleccircuit.com/regulated-dc-power-supply-variable-output-0-60v-1a/ and that doesn't change just because the ripper added his own watermark.

Of course,component makers don't care whether you rip off the circuits in their datasheets------They are in the business of selling components,not applications,& like to see you use their design,instead of one featuring their competitor's parts.

Stuff in Electronics mags is often "free game",too,as again,they don't really have any interest in actually making the gadget for sale---they want to sell magazines!

Back in the day,Electronics manufacturers tried very hard to enforce their "IP",with some success,as witness the "ARTS & TP" stickers on Australian manufactured Radios of the 40's,& '50s,but it pretty much died out with the influx of Japanese equipment in the 1960s.
 

Offline danb35

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Re: Projects released with no license
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2014, 11:04:37 am »
What? Patents protect the commercial use, and that's it.
Under U.S. law, which I was referring to (and I assume mazurov was referring to, as he indicates his location as being in the US as well), patents protect all use, not only commercial use.  See 35 USC sec. 271(a):
Quote
Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.
There are some exceptions relating to genetic engineering, but I don't see an exception for noncommercial use.  Laws in other countries may vary, of course.
 

Online T3sl4co1l

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Re: Projects released with no license
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2014, 12:26:09 pm »
Of course, enforcing those rights almost always requires the owner's action.  Infringing a patent means the owner has a right to defend that patent; if they don't care to -- or don't exist anymore -- you're as good as clear, at least for that limited use case.  (Of course, if you go producing and selling things, you might gain the attention not only of the rightsholders (if any), but of public attorneys or patent trolls as well. ;) )

This is especially notable in software (abandonware), where many works may still be under copyright, but their owners having disappeared for whatever reason, there's no one to defend the rights of those works; they're as good as free. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphan_works

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Offline schwarz-brot

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Re: Projects released with no license
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2014, 12:39:17 pm »
danb35, not sure how it is handled in the US. Your quote points to some exceptions which you did not quote, so this is not clear. In general a patent is always free to reproduce for everyone. Even a company is allowed to do so. The limitation is to do this only for scientific use. So as a company you are allowed to copy a patented work to study how it all works in real life and maybe improve on it or start fighting the patent if you wish. The problem is that you are not allowed to use it in any commercial way: If you copy a machine or process you are not allowed to sell anything that was produced with it, not even rubbish. You are not even allowed to use these products in your own developments if this leads to sales. ONLY for scientific use... Which is especially a problem if a process is protected.
The next thing is private use. You are allowed to copy a patented work and use it. But you are not allowed to give away products (not even for free!) made that way or making use of anything patented in the producing process. You may even get problems if you give away a machine for free to a friend if it is based on a patented work...

So in conclusion: non-commercial use is still prohibited by patents, but research and copying is NOT.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2014, 12:41:26 pm by schwarz-brot »
 


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