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Topic: Licenses and copyrights (Read 8524 times) previous topic - next topic


Thanks everybody for your input. Very useful information.



I'm in a similar position, just getting ready to launch a product and here is my take on it:

I've read the biography on Steve Jobs and found it very puzzling that such an intelligent fellow got so hung up on people copying his innovations. I know that are a million arguments for the other side, but every true innovator knows they are doing something to benefit humanity at large. It might sound over-the-top, but when you work to make the world a better place, the work you do is meant for everyone to benefit from. The lingering fear is that someone will take advantage of your idea and make money and exploit something that they really did not work for. But I think open hardware (and software) offers a solution. It's a new model, a new paradigm, and that means we, who know the old system have the duty to make the transition work. I'm serious. I believe that in 50 years or so, everything will be open, because the model is simply better. Open hardware sounds pretty futuristic to me.

The open hardware movement basically keeps all the greedy investors very far away. It's too risky, for them. But for those willing to work things out, get their hands dirty, and create, open hardware means uncapped potential to create new things, using the resource of combined knowledge and expertise. The old economic systems are falling apart because the people with the money are not the actual people who make things. Open hardware, for me means that I add my knowledge to a community of creators who keep multiplying the energy and innovation.

There is probably a license that will keep copycat projects from springing up while at the same time encouraging people to innovate. For me, It's not so much about preventing people from making money from it, as it is about keeping someone from just ripping it off. If someone wants to add their bag of tricks to what I made and sell it, how is that any different from what I have done? I mean, without the prototyping boards, it would have taken at least another year of research to get to market.

I think we are in a new position, because the underlying models of business and innovation are shifting, and yes, it's a big hairy mess of a thing to figure out, but that is why we love it.
I think when you really innovate, you create something in your own way, and that's what attracts people. It's not actually about the mechanics, but the sale is made based on your unique angle  or approach. Another perspective is that a copy only opens  public to the awareness of your product. If you can prove that your's is the best, you have made the sale and used the copier as a marketing tool.



As a graphic artist (photographer) I can tell you that you live a fantasy.

When produced content (be it written words, music, images, whatever the media) is copied, the person who made it doesn't benefit.  Your selfish and foolish "Artists should create for free" and "Engineers should create for free"  justification for theft makes it obvious that you've never actually had to make a living.


Ironically enough, this post:


was directly above yours in the forum.  That post, someone was asking for advice on a project from an illegal pdf copy of an Arduino book written by a frequent forum poster here.

If he makes his livelihood writing books, how is ever going to be paid?  How can he support himself?



While I agree that creative artists, engineers, etc. can benefit significantly from copyright laws and other forms of intellectual property protection, I still come back to the issue of enforcement. How to do it cost-effectively, etc.

I have found multiple sites on the internet hosting stuff that was ripped off my site and simply have to accept that these things can and will continue to happen, as long as one puts the information out there for people to browse. Given that the content is freely available, the high uptime of my site, and the good bandwidth, the only motivation I could think of is lazy bums who wanted to supplement their crummy site with content for higher SEO rankings.

That said, I doubt that the current trend towards ever-longer copyrights (i.e. Disney clauses), content restrictions, or other attempts by content providers to whine, cajole, and otherwise bother consumers into buying over-priced content will ultimately be successful. One obvious example is the incredibly successful Disney model, where content is strategically made available and removed again in order to keep prices high.

IMO, the best way forward is an a-la-carte menu where users repay convenient and affordable access to content by sticking to legal sources, such as iTunes for music.


I am currently looking for a lawyer to help me figure some of this out.  There is a flip side to this problem.  If you become successful with your project, and did not do cretin legal filings, some one with bigger pockets can screw you.  It happened with some model railroading software.  An open source project got S&D letters and taken to court by a very large player that started using the opensource projects IP.  The project won the lawsuit but it cost them several hundred thousand dollars to fight it.  Had they filed the right paper work it would have been a rubber stamp with for MUCH less cost.


Jul 23, 2012, 08:21 am Last Edit: Jul 23, 2012, 08:24 am by Constantin Reason: 1
I'm not sure I agree that filing the paperwork in advance necessarily stops the bad guys. For those with deep pockets, such obstacles are typically mere speed bumps if the patent is valuable enough. Your only hope under the circumstances is to either sell the patent or right to an entity with even deeper pockets to to find a bloodthirsty law firm that is willing to lawyer on a contingency basis.

Patents and copyrights make excellent barriers to entry, hence the proliferation. Not only are they great means to control market entry by potential competitors but they also make great bargaining chips between companies. See the latest Apple/Moto agreement among others.

So. by all means file for protection and so on. But recognize that you can be sued for anything in the US, a process that has been used by the government, corporations, the wealthy, and cults alike (ie SLAPP) to attempt to silence critics. The only remedy I can think of would be to require loser pays rules as in Europe. That also has benefits as far as reigning in frivolous law suits. However, what do you think the chances of such radical change are passing in congress where over 95% of all members are lawyers? They like the system as it is because it assures a steady stream of work.


I did not say it would stop the bad guys but it DOES help with your defense.  It is simple insurance that may or may not help, depending on the circumstances.  But if it helps it will help BIG time.  If it does not help the original cost will just be a drop in the legal fee bucket any way.  To me it is just due diligence if your trying to commercialize any thing.

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