Ensuring Open Source resources remain Open Source
It is important to us that the material we create through the Open Source Satellite development remains accessible to all, providing a foundation on which others can build. Ensuring that the information can be used freely , without users having to pay royalties, underpins our vision to increase affordable access to space for all.
One of the critical aspects of the development is therefore the open source licensing framework that will be used to make our Open Source Satellite design data available.
Our pledge to the small satellite community
Our aim is to release all data related to the hardware, software and firmware elements of the Open Source Satellite Platform within one year of launch of the first satellite.
We want to make sure that we use appropriate licences that provide our community with the rights to use the intellectual property and any copyrighted data that we release, and that clearly communicate how people can use the designs.
Open Source Hardware Licenses ≠ Open Source Software Licenses
We want to make sure that we use appropriate licences that provide our community with the rights to use the intellectual property and any copyrighted data that we release, and that clearly communicate how people can use the designs. As the TAPR website states, an Open Source Hardware Licence:
“…provides a framework for hardware projects that is similar to [ones] used for Open Source software. This isn't as straight-forward as it seems because legal concepts that work well for software (such as copyright and copyleft) don't neatly fit when dealing with hardware products and the documentation used to create them..”
Therefore it is possible that more than one type of licence may need to be applied to Open Source Satellite Programme information, depending on the type of data product that is being release, or that one may need to be developed for this type of endeavour.
Layers of licensing
Software code is copyrightable, so Open Source Software licenses often rely on the rights and capabilities of copyright. Hardware on the other hand, and especially electronics hardware, has multiple layers that may be licensed.
· Mechanical layer
· Schematic layer
· Parts lists
· Layout layer
· Printed circuit board (PCB) layouts
· Parts lists
· Parts List & datasheets
· FPGA code
· Firmware code
· Software code
LadyAda provides a good overview of the different layers of of data and type of licencing that may be required for each layer.
Common licences for Open Source Software and Open Source Hardware
There are several commonly-used Open Source Software and Open Source Hardware licences available depending on how much freedom providers want to grant to their users, and the type of information being released:
Future articles will feature reviews of these different licences, their similarities and differences and the pros and cons of each; and the justifications for the licences that the Open Source Satellite Programme has selected.
What licences have you used in your Open Source projects, and why? Let us know in the comments section below.
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