What Is Open Source?opensourcelogo

The term “open source” refers to some­thing that can be mod­i­fied because its design is pub­licly acces­si­ble. While the term was orig­i­nal­ly coined in the con­text of com­put­er soft­ware, it has come to des­ig­nates a set of val­ues. Open source ini­tia­tives embrace and cel­e­brate open exchange of ideas, col­lab­o­ra­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion, rapid pro­to­typ­ing, trans­paren­cy, mer­i­toc­ra­cy, and com­mu­ni­ty devel­op­ment. The hapi project was found­ed on these values.

Bal­anc­ing Ben­e­fit and Business

Open Source is often mis­in­ter­pret­ed as “free”. The hard­ware designs for  Arduino prod­ucts are open source but you will be hard pressed to find any­one giv­ing away these sys­tems. How­ev­er, any­one is free to access the designs, mod­i­fy them at will, build their own sys­tems and sell them.

But why would a busi­ness “give away” its intel­lec­tu­al property?

If the sole mis­sion of the busi­ness is to gen­er­ate prof­it, it prob­a­bly would not. How­ev­er, if the mis­sion of the busi­ness includes aspects of social ben­e­fit, the deci­sion becomes more clear. By shar­ing intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty, a com­pa­ny can:

  • Inspire col­lab­o­ra­tion around its prod­uct lines
  • Accel­er­ate inno­va­tion around its products
  • Increase its rate of adop­tion in the Marketplace
  • Low­er the risk to its customers

But How Is The IP Protected?

Open Source is some­times mis­tak­en as “pub­lic domain”. This is not the case. Intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty that is in the pub­lic domain does not have prop­er­ty rights asso­ci­at­ed with it. The prop­er­ty rights of pub­lic domain IP have either expired or have been for­feit­ed by the authors and any per­son or com­pa­ny can use it how­ev­er they wish.

In con­trast, Open Source IP is copy­right­ed by a legal enti­ty and then released under an open source license. There are sev­er­al stan­dard licens­es for open source IP but the gist of them is this: any­one is free to access, dis­trib­ute and use the IP in what­ev­er way they see fit, but if they mod­i­fy the IP in any way, those mod­i­fi­ca­tions must be released under the same open source license that the orig­i­nal IP was released under. In oth­er words, if some­one improves an open source prod­uct, the improve­ments must also be released as open source property.

So Who Owns The IP Cre­at­ed With­in The HAPI Project?

In the case of HAPI intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty rights are retained by the Open Com­mu­ni­ty Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and dis­trib­uted under appro­pri­ate open source licenses.

HAPI (Hydro­ponic Automa­tion Plat­form Ini­tia­tive) is an open-source project of Maya Cul­pa, LLC

Leave a Reply