Copyleft for File Formats

Suggestion for new hardware-specific copyleft licenses:

“the material may only be distributed in the same or compatible file formats”

  • …so I can make sure that derivatives of my material can be practically used by others of the same community (incl. the original licensor)
    • which is obviously trivial for software as source code is plain text; not so for hardware
  • the interesting twist may be, what we define as “compatible file formats” (or if we leave that for licencors to define)

We may want to suggest this for CERN OHL v3.0 :slight_smile:

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Interesting observation, can you add a reference link @moedn ?

I would still argue that this might hold much power for a good argument of a good #toolchain-research to see what Open Source Tools inter-compatibility is currently at place !

Our tool research database might hold great value to that but can be extended improved for that matter I guess @robfech @MartinSchott @julianstirling

this point may be included in the next interfacer paper; but yet I cannot share any reference; it just occurred in a conversation I had with JC

Defining compatibility is hard. Can I update your design from once FreeCAD version to another one. What about convert it to OpenSCAD so I can better combine it with another project? I like the spirit of the suggestion, but you would have to be careful for it not to accidentally limit freedoms

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A good suggestion for CERN OHL v3.0, but a very difficult one to define indeed. This issue will be briefly mentioned in the interfacer paper, for future discussion. Should a derivative work under current license terms be allowed to re-release sources in a proprietary format? is that against users’ freedoms? perhaps something for CERN OHL-S and a recommendation for CERN OHL-P?

What about convert it to OpenSCAD so I can better combine it with another project?

This should be fine as OpenSCAD sources are not platform locked-in, controlled by one big proprietary party. I even think that we should encourage, re-distributing derivative work in compatible open formats ^^

jepp, the issue might boil down to a case-sensitive matter. hence, such as for NC licenses, it should be specified by the licensor. in case of doubt → call the licensor

I don’t like the call a licensor solution. Licensors can be hard to track down. I once heard on a podcast a great description of “open”. Which was “the right to proceed without having to ask permission”.

NC licenses are not open because they limit freedoms too much. It would be be nice to think of a way to encourage open CAD use without limiting the freedom to use an open design.

I totally agree with you on this point, maybe we can get someone from CERN to join this discussion? Or we find a good place to discuss this at their site?

Either way I like the intercompatibility aspect to be included, as the copyleft defines the conditions to be open “forever” it is kind of interesting to connect, though I would not limit the file format but its openess in terms of at least STEP or other exportability aspects.

And then again, a license is to my view point at first a declaration of intent to the community and partners not in first place a waterproof legal agreement for the publisher (as one would need the resources and paperwork to proof it). → to be debated on as well :smile:

yea, agree, this would be quite an ugly solution.

Maybe we could come up with some basic schemes and make these variants of the license; e.g.

  • equal only: only the same file format (same version of it) ← e.g. when the original file is from Catia V5 :smiley:
  • equal only, any version: only the same file format (any versions of it)
  • permissive to open: only the same file format or any open alternative
  • fully permissive: = status quo; any file format is ok

These are possible solutions, but I worry I think increasing variants of licenses. What I hope open hardware can learn from open source software is that excessive license proliferation is a headache down the line.

I do think that the permissive to open idea could be added into licenses with few downsides I can see. It ensures that the original author can access anything build upon their files, without too many restrictions for use. Also encourages the use of open formats. It would just need to be clear that “export” formats such as STEP don’t count, even if they were open.

yes, I assume “permissive to open” would be the most common use case. right now it’s “fully permissive”

this could be a useful addition to CERN OHL -S /-W

and yea, it should be specified somewhere that we’re talking native file formats