Restrictions on SparkFun Open Source Hardware Components?

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WP22
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Restrictions on SparkFun Open Source Hardware Components?

Post by WP22 » Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:32 pm

I've been working on a motorsports telemetry device that currently uses a few SparkFun-created components, notably SerLCD and OpenLog, and I'm a bit confused with the restrictions and requirements, being that they involve Open Source schematics and firmware. I've never dealt with hardware licensing before, so this all seems a bit odd to me. I see that SerLCD's description page says "Please do not use our code or schematics for commercial use", and OpenLog's "design files" (including firmware) are released under CC-SA v3. I'm assuming that means you simply don't want people ripping off the designs and making copycat products, which is completely understandable and fair on your part. But what if someone just wants to buy these items from SparkFun for use as a component in another product? I'm not modifying them or their code in any way (and would gladly release the source if I did), so I only wish to know what the guidelines are for including them without modification as components in my device, which has the possibility of being sold commercially. Am I in the clear? Do I need to provide the source code even if I don't change anything? Could you please clarify what the restrictions are? I just want to make sure I'm not going against your wishes or otherwise doing something offensive here. Thanks.

I may just choose to open source everything, and even use that as part of my marketing strategy, but I need to be very clear on what my options are here... I'm seeing some immediate demand for what I'm building, which comes before I have that decision made or other loose-ends tied up, so I need to at least know what I'm allowed to do (or not allowed to do) for the time being, or if I need to switch to unrestricted components.

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sparky
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Re: Restrictions on SparkFun Open Source Hardware Components?

Post by sparky » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:09 pm

Hi - sounds like an awesome project!

Sorry for the confusing directions! Our thoughts on the various licenses and boards have changed over the years.

The Eagle footprints are good to use. There should not be any more limits or notes on them.

The OpenLog is totally open. Go crazy with it. All we require is to maintain the license and attribution. So in the case of your own product, we would ask that you keep the attribution in there somewhere. Such as 'originally based on OpenLog from SparkFun'. And that the CC-SA-v30 for that portion of the schematic/product be kept open under the CC-SA-v30 license. You are welcome to make money on your product. We would just like people who dig into the schematic/pcb to know that a bit of it originated from SparkFun. Kind of for timeline purposes. It will be neat some day to take a look at a product and see what a mashup of other open products it is.

The SerLCD is REALLY old so it comes from a time when we were a bit more paranoid. I'll try to spend some time pushing it more open. For now, I've removed the 'not for commercial use' language and linked to the CC license.

So in general, yes, go crazy. But please give credit and attribution where possible. We encourage you to keep your product as open as possible.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Cheers,
-Nathan
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Re: Restrictions on SparkFun Open Source Hardware Components?

Post by SFE-Pearce » Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:04 pm

Second on that awesome project, I'd like to hear more about it if it's at all possible (I have a need for such a product)
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dontz125
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Re: Restrictions on SparkFun Open Source Hardware Components

Post by dontz125 » Tue Aug 04, 2015 8:15 pm

Wow - serious necro-thread! Sorry for activating the Way-back machine, but I didn't see another thread on this topic.

My situation is similar to the OPs, but I want to tear it down further. Instead of installing complete OpenLog units in my product, I want to take just the processor and add it to a board that will provide the card socket, crystal, etc, since 1) there will be a 3.3v power-supply (a sub-system of a fairly robust 12v automotive PS) already in place for the HC05 BT module, and 2) I want to be able to keep the components a little closer to the mainboard (clearance might be an issue, depending on which model logger etc is being considered. Given my current skill set at programming SMD chips, I will likely be purchasing OpenLog assemblies and using a hot-air nozzle and ChipQuik rework solder to remove the (programmed) processor, and add it to my device. If this takes off as I hope, I may be pestering you folks for (small) lots of bare programmed chips! 8)

This is going to be a commercial product, and I will very likely have no particular interest in releasing the schematic. I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, and I'm more than a little confused by the license. What sort of grief am I setting myself up for with this mad scheme? Is the simple comment in the manual of "Based on the SparkFun OpenLog" sufficient? A colleague expressed concern that if the OpenLog design / schematic was incorporated into mine, that under the "ShareAlike" term of the CC-3.0 licence my entire mainboard might be subject to the license, and subject to a demand that the schematic be made public - not something I find particularly amusing.

My apologies for the Wall o' Text for a first post; I hope someone can shed some light on this.

cheers,

Don

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Re: Restrictions on SparkFun Open Source Hardware Components

Post by sparky » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:33 am

Hi Don - Great question that requires some thought into the definition of open source hardware.

From my perspective as long as your intentions are to keep the OpenLog part of the mainboard open, and to share that part of the project with others than you should have no problems building a mainboard and selling it. I envision a mention either in the included materials as a footnote ("This product uses OpenLog, an open source hardware device. For more information see https://github.com/sparkfun/OpenLog"). I encourage you to open as much of your product as possible (it's good for you in the long run, I promise) but if you need to keep some bits in a black box and some in a glass box (OpenLog), that's acceptable to me.

You shouldn't need to buy pre-programmed chips from us! Just drop an ATmega328 on the board with 16MHz oscillator and program the IC with the latest OpenLog firmware (https://github.com/sparkfun/OpenLog). Another option would be to just put a 6-pin SIP on your mainboard and solder in OpenLogs for the first few production units. Once you need more than a half dozen it will be worth it to bring the ATmega onto the mainboard.

Thanks for the way-back dust off :)
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Re: Restrictions on SparkFun Open Source Hardware Components

Post by dontz125 » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:09 am

Hi, Sparky.

Thanks for the reply. There will be both online propaganda on my site, as well as a user's manual. I could easily include the disclaimer and link as part of the documentation.

The idea of buying programmed chips was contemplated as a way of answering the question of "What's in it for me?" from SparkFun. "Here's the schematic, go nuts" works for personal use, but I thought that a commercial product should include a benefit to the designer.

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