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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 8:18 pm
by anton.tagunov
Disclaimer: I'm not a lower. All this is just my understanding.

I guess the goal of the project is (among other things?) to produce specifications, circuit diagrams, printed boards designs, images and textual how-to-s, software.

All these are going to be copyrighted materials. Open source software projects handle copyright as far as I know in two ways. The copyright may stay with contributors. Or the copyright may be transferred to a trusted central legal entity (Apache and Eclipse software foundations for example).

In either case the copyright holder (individuals or legal entities) license the software for use by general public. Here comes the license. I know about BSD-style software licenses - use however you like but we're not responsible for any damage and never sue us and GPL - if you make a derived product not just for your own use make the sources public under the same license. And yes, never sue us and we're not responsible for any damage. That's a briefing of course, please refer to full license texts for details: I know that other creative works like images and texts are often covered by various kinds of licenses.

I guess that the founders of this project should make their choice under what license the contributors shall be contributing their works. Without an appropriate license reasonable people may and perhaps should abstain from using creative works.

I thought I replied to this

PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 1:48 am
by Thonord
Anyway, I agree Anton.


PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 3:34 am
by seaton
Yes we definately need to decide on the licensing early on, I'm leaning towards GPL, however I want to research some of the other open source hardware projects and see what they use and if there are any pros and cons.


PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 5:32 am
by seaton

Any issues with patents?

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 9:20 pm
by anton.tagunov
I'm not a lower. I'm naive. I have noticed mentions patents

Code: Select all
You ... grant to the Foundation and to recipients of software ... patent license to make ... use ... otherwise transfer the Work

Apparently whenever an inventor who has signed this paper contributes code based on his patents to ASF he also grants a patent license.
However I'm not sure what happens if an inventor contributes code first and obtains a patent later (and if that is at all possible)

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 10:40 pm
by TwoLeftFeet
Good idea about deciding what the software/hardware will be licensed under... I think we should decide basically between GPL and BSD. I am leaning towards the GPL myself.

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 5:58 pm
by anton.tagunov
TwoLeftFeet wrote:I think we should decide basically between GPL and BSD. I am leaning towards the GPL myself.

"Whoever writes the code chooses the license and nobody has to complain". In my understanding:

GPL is designed to prevent commercial guys from having a "free ride". If you do business you must reciprocate.
BSD is designed to maximize adoption. If you do business you're encouraged to reciprocate but not required to.

If your target is to secure reciprocity you may choose GPL.
If your target is a world with lots of cheap quality remotes you may consider BSD.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 1:25 am
by sesh
I personally would prefer the BSD-style licence over the GPL. A major drawback of hardware released under the GPL is releasing schematics, wiring diagrams, parts lists, etc. with anything that is given out/sold. I would much prefer the goal to be wide adoption, and forcing companies to release those things is not going to help that.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 3:12 am
by strogg
sesh wrote:I personally would prefer the BSD-style licence over the GPL. A major drawback of hardware released under the GPL is releasing schematics, wiring diagrams, parts lists, etc. with anything that is given out/sold. I would much prefer the goal to be wide adoption, and forcing companies to release those things is not going to help that.

How is that a drawback? How can you modify or improve it if you don't know how it was made? The way I see it, you would want to use GPL so that you will get the schematics, partlist, etc included when you buy it.

We're doing this for the strobist community. We're doing this because the flash trigger business world let us down and hasn't made a reliable trigger that we can afford.

Personally, my goal here isn't to make a lot of money, or hell, to even make any money. I'm just another angry photographer that doesn't want to have to choose between $1000 in triggers to use on his flashes, or a 50% fire rate. And I want to help make this thing and set it free to the world.

If Company A doesn't want to sell our trigger because they'd have to make the source available, that's their problem. We'll get Company B to sell it to use instead. And if not B, then C.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 4:25 am
by sesh
I'm just not sure that I want the Strobist community to miss out on getting these things for cheap because some Chinese manufacturer refuses to distribute the parts list, schematics, etc. I'll take you point that if one passes then you can just move along to the next one, but what if there is no next one? Or what if the next one quotes $10 more per unit?

I would favour the GPL if you think that the manufacturer, etc, is going to be able to significantly improve the design - if that's the case then it would force them to provide details back to the community (which under the BSD licence is only encouraged). Personally, I feel that the developer base is large enough that any changes by a manufacturer are going to simply be to reduce costs - and that the ideal design for the units will be created by the community. Not to mention that people in the development community will simply reverse engineer any changes to see if there is improvements anyway.

Just my 2 cents.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 4:43 am
by strogg
sesh wrote:I'm just not sure that I want the Strobist community to miss out on getting these things for cheap because some Chinese manufacturer refuses to distribute the parts list, schematics, etc.

I think we're looking at this from two different angles.

To me, we're going to make a design, make a prototype or two using components of larger form factor (DIP, etc), and once we have a layout we like, we'll get the PCBs made and the parts put on.

I think to you, we're going to make a design, and then hope that a manufacturer will buy/use the design and make that trigger so we can go to a store and buy it.

I'm not a marketting guy, so I don't really know what's better from a sales perspective. That said, the WRT54G was GPL and it's one of the most popular routers around.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 5:12 am
by sesh
Only the firmware of the WRT54G was GPL'd, they don't distribute any information about the hardware contained within the router itself to people who purchase them. I presume that they distribute the source code of the firmware on installation CDs that gets completely ignored by most users.

I seemingly am looking at it from a different angle to you, but I don't think they are mutually exclusive. I hope that we are able to build some sort of kit or list of parts that people can buy and build themselves, and I'll be one of the first to purchase such a kit. But I think we need to be careful now to make sure that if someone wants to build and distribute these things on a larger scale, that there are minimal roadblocks to them doing that. I personally consider having to distribute schematics, source code, list of parts, etc, with the device a road block that will make distribute more expensive and more difficult.

I'm not expecting to be able to go to a store and buy them, but it would be nice if the people manufacturing the eBay triggers would use the design that we come up with and distribute them in the same way.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 7:28 am
by MQ
Both scenarios are okay for me.

One is a finished design with maybe a kit available or
community members soldering units for others in small

The other is a company picking up our design and producing
a finished device from that.

Needing to publish the diagrams may not only be a roadblock
for them, but can also be a chance.

Remember the C64? That was successful because every
single bit was documented, and BASIC was available on it.

For the more skilled users you could peek and poke every
register, the thorough documentation made it manageable.

Now this here project focuses on a design that will have
basically a transceiver set with interfaces that allow modular
use and ideally reprogramming by the user.

Why shouldn't a commercial company sell a product that
can be modified by the user and sell this as a feature?

Of course the design would be FCC/CE tested as delivered,
and the user would have to be responsible for modifications.

But hey - ebay triggers have no FCC ID also.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 7:40 am
by philtulju
Agree with MQ.

Make a design and kit available, with everything documented.

Regardless of GPL, BSD or even closed source, if it is a good, cost effective design and is popular, some company in China will put in the money to tool it up and sell copies. They don't care about the GPL. And this is fine - one of the benefits of wholesale plagiarism is that they will not change much, and the design will still be well documented!

Much like authors writing books and making pdf versions available for free, I think that hardware documented this way is also a viable business model, both for kits and commercial use. I hope this is an increasing trend.


PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 4:51 am
by seaton
I would like to see the the design open, both hardware and the software under an open license, GPL, The idea of this as being an open project were a number of thing.

1) A reliable trigger available to the stobist community at a resonable cost. We are not in this to make money, but to save it. Why the PW sells for what it does, is not the cost of the parts plus a profit margin. I bet it costs the same as ours in parts (in quantity) as really when we decide on a design, it will probably boil down to CPU, PCB, LCD, switch and Case. why the PW cost what they do is to do with support and R&D cost recovery, so what we will save on is the R&D and assembly costs. (Open Letter to the Manufacturers of PW: How about releasing your PW design to Open source ?)

2) Open - being open allows for the design to evolve without the IP/Copyright hindering the evolution. Because both the hardware and the software is open it will be very flexible, as mention before I see our role to come up with a reference design, then it will progress form there, already in less than a week since I posted the original message we have this community of some pretty smart cookies, and a great discussion happening with design, if I had put up sayinfg I wanted to design a trigger for the stobist community that I woudl own the IP for and being a clsed design, then I don't think we would be where we are now.

If the hardware is closed then there is more pressure on the "design team" to bugfix, feature implementation etc, being open allows anyong to make theire own fixes and features release back to the community. It is a proven model that works successfully on many other opensource projects

3) I know many of us could have done this by ourselves, however it all takes time, of which is a rare commodity for me these days lol, hence a community pool of resources is by far the way to go.

4) If people are in this to make money, well sorry to dissapoint you, but there will probably be not alot of money to be made in the having a closed design, it will probably cost you in the end. However, I do see spinoffs once we have a design then individuals/companies can make some money out of it if they so wish. Such as Parts, kits in various stages of assembley, Support, Custom Personalities etc, If you have an inside knowledge of the API etc then this will be easier for you, but thats up to you if you want.

AFAIK under GPL the copyright still remains with the author/project, so whatever we develop the project will be able to enforce copyright breach issues (if we so wish). Some very big companies have been forced to release portions of there code that GPL has be used in so the License does work, plus no matter what we do there are plenty of shifty characters out there looking for a quick buck that will probably use the design and put their mark on it as their own.

What we can do is possibly have a modified GPL that states that the use of this project in their design must be acknowledged, with the relevant portions available on their website and acknowledged in their product documentation etc....