The Open Hardware Repository ohwr.org is a place
on the web for electronics designers at experimental physics facilities
to collaborate on open hardware designs, much in the philosophy of the
free software movement.
the ohr-support project wiki
page explains the
numerous advantages to working in a completely open environment, while
on these same ohr-support wiki
pages you can find how
you can set up your own project. Note that all information on this site
is accessible to anyone; you will not be able to access more material by
The CERN Open Hardware Licence (CERN
OHL) governs the use,
copying, modification and distribution of hardware design documentation,
and the manufacture and distribution of products. Other open licence
types may be used for projects on the OHR site.
Open Hardware can be commercial
Winning combination. Best of both worlds.
Whole support burden falls on developers. Not scalable.
There are eleven instititutes leading the different projects: CERN,
Soleil, GSI, Brazillian Light Source, University of Bristol, Warsaw
University of Technology, University of Zurich, University of Pavia,
Rockefeller University, University of Cape Town, Heidelberg
And there are 16 commercial companies are
involved who develop, produce and/or
test open hardware products.
In December 2012 sixteen companies from eleven countries were actively
using the OHR site to develop or produce open hardware, software and
drivers. These companies may be paid for the open developments. Actually
in July 2014 the number is the same.
For each project, there may be reasons to lean towards a permissive, weakly reciprocal or strongly reciprocal licence. These can include the wishes of collaborators, CERN guidelines and legal constraints imposed by components used in a given design. These are some informal guidelines for CERN designers wishing to release their work as Open Hardware:
CERN Open Hardware Licence - CERN
OHL Version 2 includes three variants: P (permissive), W (weakly reciprocal) and S (strongly reciprocal). Notice that S assumes your component libraries are also released under S or a compatible licence. For designs in which this is not the case (e.g. designs using the CERN Altium library), S cannot be used. W is then a good compromise. We recommend you use W with the "or later" suffix, i.e. license your designs as "CERN-OHL-W-2.0+" (see SPDX codes). The '+' at the end stands for "or later". It means that a licensee can take your design as being licensed under CERN-OHL-W-2.0 or any later version CERN publishes of the same W variant. This will allow your design to benefit from future improvements in the licence.
Please consider using "GPL version 3 or later" if looking for a good strongly-reciprocal licence for your software. The SPDX identifiers for the "or later" versions of the GNU licences are special. They do not use the "+" suffix but prefer the more explicit "-or-later". Therefore, "GPL-3.0-or-later" is the correct SPDX identifier in this case.
Used in projects where a strong copyleft license will result in
reduced adoption, such as the masterFIP
For new projects in which a weakly reciprocal sharing regime makes sense, we recommend licensing under "LGPL-3.0-or-later". Version 2.1 of LGPL is also OK. We have several projects licensed under "LGPL-2.1-or-later" and the benefits brought about by 3.0 do not offset the hassle/risk to change licence, so we are leaving them as 2.1.
Permissive: a modern option for this licensing regime, including a patent licensing clause, is the Apache v2 licence.
The CERN Open Hardware Licence v2 now works very nicely for gateware (HDL/FPGA/ASIC). Pick one of the three variants (S, W or P) depending on your preferences and constraints. W is a good compromise by default. It specifies that all improvements to your design (e.g. a core) must be shared back, but it can be used in a larger work and the licensee does not need to release the source of that larger design (beyond your code). As for the case of hardware, we recommend you use the "or later" suffix: CERN-OHL-S-2.0+, CERN-OHL-W-2.0+ or CERN-OHL-P-2.0+.