Open Source Hardware Licence to use for Electronic Projects?

Well,

I have been an Open Source Software user for close to 15 years now and I firmly support the idea of Open Source.

Why? Well it is simple: Few people have the spine and drive to become technically competent to master highly technical fields, so your work is only available to those who want to. :slight_smile:

I have invested hard in the past 8 months on electronics and enjoy it immensely. There is not enough waking hours to do what I want to.

So, I have already put together a few very nice boards and I am going to sell it, but I first of all want to make it available and secondly, I would like to use a license where I am relieved from liability from the use of the product.

I know this is well established for software, but what can I look at for Hardware?

but what can I look at for Hardware?

The Arduino model? The ATMEL model? Both advise that if you do something stupid with the product, and get hurt, it is your fault.

PaulS:
The Arduino model? The ATMEL model? Both advise that if you do something stupid with the product, and get hurt, it is your fault.

Any model for that matter but yes my things will be Arduino based or perhaps Raspberry Pi.

But you know mos how quick people is to sue these days. No-one is prepared to take some responsibility any more.

I just want to fall in with established frameworks on the topic.

koosjr:
I would like to use a license where I am relieved from liability from the use of the product.

I doubt if such a thing exists.
Do you imagine you would have no liability if someone died because they used a product made by you? It's not going to happen!

If you are licensing the design for someone else to manufacture and sell things may be better. I still think there would be an obligation on you to have created a "safe" design - especially if it is accessible by people who may not be qualified to assess its safety.

Maybe you should set up a limited liability company and transfer the intellectual rights to it.

I don't know if any of the liability opt-outs in Open Source software licences has been tested in the Courts. Mostly Open Source software licenses are intended to deal with the intellectual property rather than the performance.

...R

Robin,

There are millions of products that are sold where it could probably be argued one way or the other that the one who had it in his hands was not "qualified" to assess it's safety.

Think for example power tools. The warnings inside that manuals cannot possibly cover all the possibilities of how one can hurt yourself or others and no one who buys is needs to provide any form of proof that he is qualified to work with it.

In short, in the everyday world the models does exist to limit the liability of a supplier basically to performance associated with the intended use of the product.

Take Arduino for example. I can built what ever I want, qualified or not. If whatever I build hurts me - surely I cannot blame the makers of Arduino for it.

koosjr:
Think for example power tools. The warnings inside that manuals cannot possibly cover all the possibilities of how one can hurt yourself or others and no one who buys is needs to provide any form of proof that he is qualified to work with it.

In short, in the everyday world the models does exist to limit the liability of a supplier basically to performance associated with the intended use of the product.

Take Arduino for example. I can built what ever I want, qualified or not. If whatever I build hurts me - surely I cannot blame the makers of Arduino for it.

There are endless stories about successful lawsuits against manufacturers even when the user did something really stupid. In one case, IIRC, someone tried to dry their dog in a microwave. There was another case where someone started their automatic car (Audi, I think) in reverse and it crawled out of the garage and did some damage. Now there is a lock-out on all cars to prevent starting in gear. And think of the silly message on rear view mirrors warning that things are closer than you think.

The legal point is that the manufacturer cannot limit his own liability. Only the Courts can do that - at least in the Irish, UK and US legal systems.

...R

I have read a little more and there are some interesting arguments:

It is clear that the liability regarding Open Source Hardware projects still is a grey are.

One of the arguments though is that if you properly publish your information - that is your designs, drawings, BOQ etc then the user has what he needs to make an evaluation, which makes it much more difficult to blame the designer.

And I think that is the direction these things should go.

Establish some standards to publish and Open Source Project. If you as the original designer complied with that then the end user has the responsibility to evaluate your design before using it.

I am a great believer in collaboration unless of course for criminal purposes. :slight_smile:

koosjr:
One of the arguments though is that if you properly publish your information - that is your designs, drawings, BOQ etc then the user has what he needs to make an evaluation, which makes it much more difficult to blame the designer.

I think that is the best you can do. You also need a big sign telling everyone that anything they build with your design is entirely their responsibility - with no guarantee (for you) that the Courts would take any notice of it.

However from this part of your Original Post I had the distinct impression you proposed to sell hardware (finished, or part finished) products. In that case I believe your responsibilities will be much more direct.

So, I have already put together a few very nice boards and I am going to sell it,

I know it costs money but if you have real concerns you should get proper legal advice from a specialist lawyer.

...R