“So you’ve worked hard into the night on your solution and keen to share it with the masses. Remember the reason why we ask you to do this is two fold:

  1. To help others who either don’t have the design, coding whatever skills that you have put in - whether they are a developing country or in a large private healthcare organisation you are aiding others by reducing the time to get an assistive technology solution to people who need it

  2. To get help from others to improve your solution. This is often overlooked but its an essential part of the process.

So in short, open source is really really important, goodandimportant for business. (Remember: Open source doesn’t really mean free). So that others know how to use your project its really important to choose a licence or at least your intentions for the project are. So others can properly benefit from your work, please choose a license for your project.

Now this can be a mine field. If you go searching the internet there are a myriad of decisions and choices you can make. Largely for software you can use http://choosealicense.com/ which guides you through some simple questions - but granted it can be quite confusing.

If you want to skip all this we recommend you use the CommonsAttribution-ShareAlike 3.0 licence. So what does this mean? Well in plain english terms:

  • It provides basic liability protections. Requires that the attribution is given on any derived works and that derived works remain open source. (i.e. others have to keep it available to others)
  • Others can re-create and modify your design - but must credit you.
  • All sorts of aspects can be altered if they ask you.

Thats very simplistic and dumbed down. Please have a read of the full-text here.

If you don’t want to require that derived works are kept open source, then you can use Creative Commons - Attribution 3.0.


It’s worth noting that a lot of these “licences” exist really for the software world. The reason why we suggest the Creative Commons licence is because others (e.g. here) do suggest it and we feel they are quite, well, excuse the irony - but open and flexible. However there is an issue, particularly around the issue of copyright:

“The basic premise of a Creative Commons license is based on U.S. copyright law, meaning the license really only applies to works that can be copyrighted. The Open Source Hardware Association states, “Copyright (on which most licenses are based) doesn’¬ít apply to hardware itself, only to the design files for it and, then, only to the elements which constitute original works of authorship (in U.S. law) and not the underlying functionality or ideas.””

(from https://opensource.com/law/15/2/intro-open-hardware-licensing). So what’s the alternative? (read that link for the long-text on this..)

  1. TAPR Open Hardware Licence.
  2. CERN Open Hardware Licence

Have a read and don’t get too scared. Its important stuff but its also important to pick something and get it out there!

For more information have a read of the following: