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Re: Library License


  As an example of how lawyered-up EDA companies treat libraries,
refer to section 3.1 and 3.2 of the Altium EULA:

  Their EULA restricts use of libraries to their products.  You cannot
restrict the use of something you do not own so I assume Altium's
lawyers believe they own the copyright to their libraries.  In section
1.14 they seem to be stating that anything a user designs with their
software is licensed to that user, not owned by them, as that would
imply transfer of ownership of Altium's materials.

  None of us are lawyers so let us tread carefully.  I vote for Public
Domain'ing anything KiCad users need to move outside of KiCad.

>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.

  Exactly.  It is unclear so why risk it?  From personal experience
there are really only about 50 standard symbols and footprints that
must be included for basic functionality.  This isn't a massive amount
of work to redo if necessary.

>having a "neutral" license for parts and footprints is adding value to KiCad.

  Is that another vote for CC0 (Public Domain)?

>1) What are we to conclude when a "conversion program"
>changes the expression of an idea (to s-expressions)?

  I assume copyright is maintained through a format conversion.  If
you copy a movie from VHS to DVD you do not gain copyright of the

>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?

  I say extend the ideals of the GPL throughout KiCad.   No use restrictions.

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

  I have no objection to readily sharing my symbols and footprints
under as loose a licence as possible, such as CC0 (Public Domain).  I
regularly create my own symbols as most parts I use are not standard
and I have a schematic style I try to follow.  I also create my own
footprints to tweak things for either minimal board area or easier
DIY'ability.  However, the symbols and footprints have no value
outside of the design process as far as I can tell.  It is work that
needs to be done but has no value on its own.  Contributing such work
to KiCad at least gets me a shout-out.  I don't see any significant
competitive advantage to not sharing.  In fact, having someone check
my work is an advantage.

  There isn't really much of an incentive to share.  There also isn't
any real incentive not to share.  In an ideal world all IC
manufacturers would create simple text pinout files such as those the
FPGA companies (Xilinx, Altera, Lattice) create for their components.
Users could run such files through custom symbol generators to create
libraries that fit their own style.

>a policy statement is needed ...
>clarify or change the license ...
>[due to above] some procedural changes regarding the contribution of
>parts and footprints come about.  If new parts coming in are under copyright,
>(and I believe all new work is), some standing procedure may need to be
>in place to deal with that copyright on parts, footprints, demos boards.
>Such as signing a contributor agreement

  How about a new KiCad mailing list for symbols and footprints?
There could be a simple procedure for posting and a template for how
to assign the work.  This would simplify library contributions vs. the
hassle of Launchpad.

  The Subject line could be "LibraryType - License - Name -
Description", e.g., (Footprint - CC0 - SOT223 - SMT 3-Pin) or (Symbol
- GPL - 1117 - 1A LDO).  The library element could be an attachment.
The submitter would have to state in the body of the message that they
are the copyright owner and are licensing accordingly.

>I don't think we are any where near optimum on sharing parts and
>footprints.  This is a far bigger problem and more important than
>scaring folks away with a vague licensing issue ...
>if you solve my concern, you will bring in more folks that way than
>making them "comfortable" with the parts/footprints licensing.

  One of the most useful principles of the GPL is that you do not need
anyone's permission to use or create GPL-licensed content.  Does there
exist a simple multi-user, no registration version control system that
would be better than the above mailing list proposal?  Launchpad is
too much of a hassle for the casual user and there needs to be search
facilities.  Unless someone can fund and develop a website such as
Thingiverse.com for KiCad libraries we are stuck piggy-backing on
other services.

>Market share seems to be what we are after?

  I'm after usability.  Market share will come naturally.

>More people using KiCad, means more free people,
>since they won't be tied to proprietary closed formats.


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