Open Source Hardware and Design Alliance

Jürgen Neumann

OHANDA is an initiative to foster sustainable copyleft-style sharing of open hardware and design. Since its emergence from the GOSH!-Grounding Open Source Hardware summit at the Banff Centre in July 2009, one of the goals of the project has been to build a service for sharing open hardware designs which includes a certification model and a form of registration. OHANDA is in process, and the process is open.

Why can’t we just use any copyleft license?

In short: copyleft  ACTIVISM derives its legal basis from copyright, which cannot be effectively enforced in the physical world. The equivalent would be patents, but the process of patenting hardware to make it open would be slow and expensive. The proposed solution with OHANDA is a label in the sense of a trademark. The label will allow the developer to associate a copyleft licence with any kind of physical device through OHANDA, which would act as a registration authority. The label could be compared to other common certificates, such as organic food, fair trade or CE certificates shown on products.

How does it work?

The designer  DESIGNERS applies the copyleft license to the product designs and documentation. This makes it possible to licence the work under his name without restricting its use to the point that it could no longer be considered open.

First, the designer signs up for a registered account (as a person or as an organization) and receives a unique producer ID. When the designer registers at OHANDA, he accepts the terms and conditions of using the OHANDA label. This means that the designer grants the Four Freedoms to the user (see below) and publishes the work under a copyleft licence. The designer then registers the product and receives a unique product ID. After doing so, the designer may apply the OHANDA label to the product. The OHANDA label and the unique OHANDA registration key (OKEY) are printed/engraved on each copy of the device. This ensures that the link to the documentation and to the contributors always travels with the physical device itself, providing visible proof that it is open source hardware. The OHANDA registration key on the product helps the user link the product back to the designer, the product description, design artefacts and the copyleft licence through the web-based service offered by OHANDA. Empowered by the Four Freedoms, the user may develop the product further,  BLUEPRINTS register as a producer in his own right, share his design artefacts under a copyleft licence, and be associated with the derivatives of the product.

Four Freedoms

The four freedoms from Free Software Definition lay the foundation for sharing hardware through OHANDA. The adaptations below are made by just replacing the term ‘program’ with the term(s) ‘device /& design’. This may not be the most understandable way of describing freedoms of sharing open hardware, but it describes the degree of openness that OHANDA stands for. By granting these four freedoms for all documentation attached to a product, sharing takes place on a sustainable basis.

Freedom 0. The freedom to use the device and/or design for any purpose, including making items based on it.  REMIX

Freedom 1. The freedom to study how the device works and change it to make it to do what you wish. Access to the complete design is a precondition for this.  WYS ≠ WYG

Freedom 2. The freedom to redistribute copies of the device and/or design.  SHARE

Freedom 3. The freedom to improve the device and/or design, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits. Access to the complete design  HACKING DESIGN is a precondition for this.

Who owns it?

Ideally? Nobody… and everybody. A legal entity is needed to register a trademark. This legal entity should either be a credible, pre-existing, not-for-profit organization, or a new non-profit organization with enough transparency in its operational management that the ownership of this common asset does not become an issue. Distributing the ownership gradually among all those who share their hardware feels like the right thing to do, but it may turn out too complex to manage in the long run. OHANDA is still a work in progress; existing certification models are being studied in order to adopt best practices. In the meantime, the community  COMMUNITY gathering around OHANDA will simply proceed without any legal entity or definitive registered trademark.


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