← Back to team overview

kicad-developers team mailing list archive

Re: Library License


On 03/22/2012 06:38 AM, Opendous Support wrote:
>>>> Footprints are not subject to copyright either.
>>>> They are not creative: ... they are simple data
>>>> gathered from JEDEC, IPC and manufacturer sources.
>   Copyright is designed to protect the "original expression of ideas,
> and not the ideas themselves".  For example, if you take a photograph
> of the insides of your computer you are automatically the Copyright
> owner of the photograph.  Your original expression is the overexposed
> and blurry image.  In the same way that JEDEC/IPC/manufacturers own
> the Copyrights on the datasheets/specifications they produce, you own
> the specification (schematic and layout files) you produce of your
> design.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright#Idea-expression_dichotomy_and_the_merger_doctrine
>   Everything but the actual circuit connection ideas can be
> Copyrighted since "copy[right] covers only the expression of the
> definition, not the circuit itself".  In other words, someone can redo
> your work and create something nearly identical and they will be the
> Copyright owners of that work.
> http://features.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=1999-06-22-005-05-NW-LF
> http://www.armisteadtechnologies.com/copy-pcb.shtml
> http://freedomdefined.org/OSHW
>>> I can be wrong, but, anything that's been designed
>>> by an author, has authorship, and it makes it have copyright.
>   That is the most sensible attitude.
>> It's not worth worrying about: really.
>   Why risk it.  Anything that can lead to FUD from others and dissuade
> use of KiCad should be avoided.  I would be willing to donate all my
> library work into the Public Domain under, for example, the Creative
> Commons Public Domain Dedication:
> http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
>   If the original authors of library elements cannot be contacted
> simply ask users of the KiCad mailing list to recreate schematic
> symbols and module footprints.  I'm sure many users would be willing
> to help out and contribute.  As noted earlier, it is the expression of
> an idea that is Copyrightable so it is mostly a simple matter of
> redoing the work.
> -Matt

Great posting Matt.

We do have pending opportunities to formulate a strategy.  So I think a plodding dialog is
harmless and good.   For example, we will be moving to s-expressions for schematic and
board stuff (parts, footprints, schematics and boards).

Some interesting questions that I hope will stimulate some thinking, and eventually some

1) What are we to conclude when a "conversion program" changes the expression of an idea
(to s-expressions)?   Sounds not to be a copyright violation during the conversion, but an
opportunity to re-establish a specific license or posture on the converted work.

2) Do we want the work invested in KiCad project schematic parts and footprints to add
value to KiCad expressly, and not be available for *easy* use in other software packages? 
How important is this on a scale of 1-10?

3) What are the incentives for anyone to share their work in parts and footprints?  Are
they sufficient?

Follow ups