Software

Checklist list

Checklist

Have you made your project’s software publicly available?

Have you applied an open source license to your software?

About

Any code or firmware connected to your hardware is protected by copyright. You can grant others permission to use and improve your software through open source licenses. These licenses can also impose openness requirements on downstream users. The OSHWA definition requires all software that is necessary for the operation of your hardware to be licensed under an OSI-approved license.

Checklist list

Checklist

Have you made your project’s software publicly available?

Have you applied an open source license to your software?

Spectrum

In almost all cases, software is inherently protected by copyright the moment that it is written. If your project incorporates software it is critical that you pick a license that allows people to make use of and improve it without infringing on your rights. This includes the software in the Shepard Test Stand, which is licensed under an Apache license, one of the licenses recommended by OSHWA.

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Software

In almost all cases, software is automatically protected by copyright the moment it is typed into the editor. That means that if you do not license your software under a permissive license the copyright protecting the software will prevent future users from building upon or improving it. If your project includes software you must select a permissive license in order to comply with the open source hardware definition.

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Checklist list

Checklist

Have you made your project’s software publicly available?

Have you applied an open source license to your software?

Licensing

All Open Source Initiative approved licenses are acceptable for OSHWA-certified projects. OSHWA recommends the following licenses:

Checklist

Have you made your project’s software publicly available?

Have you applied an open source license to your software?

Recommended Licenses for Software

Apache

Apache License 2.0 is permissive license whose main conditions require preservation of copyright and license notices. Contributors provide an express grant of patent rights. Licensed works, modifications, and larger works may be distributed under different terms and without source code.

Other open software licenses may be acceptable under the OSHW definition. We recommend these licenses due to their widespread acceptance, recognition, and ease of use. License description from choosealicense.org, used under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

GPL

GNU General Public License (GPL) version 3 is a strong copyleft license, the permissions of which are conditioned on making available complete source code of licensed works and modifications, which include larger works using a licensed work, under the same license. Copyright and license notices must be preserved. Contributors provide an express grant of patent rights.

Other open software licenses may be acceptable under the OSHW definition. We recommend these licenses due to their widespread acceptance, recognition, and ease of use. License description from choosealicense.org, used under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

LGPL

GNU Library or “Lesser” General Public License (LGPL) is a copyleft license with permissions conditioned on making available complete source code of licensed works and modifications under the same license or the GNU GPLv3. Copyright and license notices must be preserved. Contributors provide an express grant of patent rights. However, a larger work using the licensed work through interfaces provided by the licensed work may be distributed under different terms and without source code for the larger work.

Other open software licenses may be acceptable under the OSHW definition. We recommend these licenses due to their widespread acceptance, recognition, and ease of use. License description from choosealicense.org, used under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

MIT

The MIT license is a short and simple permissive license with conditions only requiring preservation of copyright and license notices. Licensed works, modifications, and larger works may be distributed under different terms and without source code.

Other open software licenses may be acceptable under the OSHW definition. We recommend these licenses due to their widespread acceptance, recognition, and ease of use. License description from choosealicense.org, used under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Mozilla

Mozilla Public License 2.0 is a weak copyleft license with permissions conditioned on making available source code of licensed files and modifications of those files under the same license (or in certain cases, one of the GNU licenses). Copyright and license notices must be preserved. Contributors provide an express grant of patent rights. However, a larger work using the licensed work may be distributed under different terms and without source code for files added in the larger work.

Other open software licenses may be acceptable under the OSHW definition. We recommend these licenses due to their widespread acceptance, recognition, and ease of use. License description from choosealicense.org, used under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Examples of Software Licensing

Checklist list

Checklist

Have you made your project’s software publicly available?

Have you applied an open source license to your software?

Commercialization

Software has strong copyright protections that you may be able to leverage to prevent uses that do not comply with your expectations.

Note that the definition of open-source hardware specifies that you must allow modification and commercial re-use of your product, so you may not use licenses with no-derivatives or non-commercial use clauses.