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Re: Library License


On Mar 22, 2012, at 3:30 PM, Dick Hollenbeck wrote:

> 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
> responses:
> 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.
Normally translation (language-wise) are covered under copyright. So I think that means that GPL remains GPL, if the GPL can be asserted on symbol/footprint libraries.
From reading the opinions in this thread it seems it can be licensed with the GPL. Whether or not a schema using a symbol then has to be GPL-ed is something which is unclear to me, and I wonder if the answer will be the same for each country where KiCad is used.

> 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?
0. I think we should allow other programs to import/convert KiCad libraries. I have already seen people switching to Eagle because they feel it has the most complete library, even though they could import them.
In my opinion, having a "neutral" license for parts and footprints is adding value to KiCad.

> 3) What are the incentives for anyone to share their work in parts and footprints?  Are
> they sufficient?
I think a "upload part/footprint" to KiCad button or the ability to share your libraries with (something like git/bzr) would be an incentive.
This would allow a reseller (adafruit, rs, farnell, etc) to publish the parts/footprint in their libraries and you would add their "repo" as a library resource (or clone it).

I think what is stopping people (guilty) from sharing parts and footprints is in the ease of submission.