Open Design - Need a Philosophy and Legal standpoint #2

cefn opened this Issue May 21, 2012 · 2 comments


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The Open Design Working Group member

I don't understand what the Open Design Definition might do from a legal standpoint, and how it relates to Creative Commons or GPL licenses, which both take advantage of their relation to the way Copyright can restrict freedoms and are very specific about this relationship.

For example, I've already been working on making inventions open by public domain disclosure, ( ) and making copyrightable designs open by CC licensing ( ), so I wonder why I shouldn't be doing this, and why I need an Open Design license at all.

[Incidentally, I applaud your use of Github as a versioning tool, used also by the Tacticalendar for a similarly unconventional purpose - product design ... ]

The intent of having an Open Design definition doesn't seem at all clear from the document at

This can be detailed from a philosophical point of view, for example the GNU project is able to detail the freedoms and intent of their creation and analysis of software licenses with respect to a clear philosophy without actual license terms.

On the other side of the fence, from a strict legal point of view, the Debian Legal team offer a detailed analysis at to indicate why CC licenses (apart from CC0) are not considered to be compatible with Free software licences.

I think with these extra forms of guidance, from a philosophical and legal standpoint, comparing with existing instruments, people would know how and whether to contribute to your project. Otherwise they won't.

The Open Design Working Group member

Hi @cefn, thanks for the issue! :)
I'll try to reply to the many topics addressed:

The first important thing (that has also appeared in a workshop that we did in Manchester after launching this repository) is that we need to further clarify the difference between a definition and a license. A definition is not a legal tool like a license, it is a shared document that tries to define what is Open Design, hopefully including all the different possible types of Open Design, all the perspectives, the critical point, and what can be achieved with it and how it can be improved and further promoted and adopted. It is, basically, the result of a collaborative discussion, and it is a community standard, not a legal standard.
About the license / legal side: Design is really a broad world, and for example an Open Design chair and an Open Design fashion wear are different "entities" regarding IP protection and law, so at the moment it seems very difficult to have one general license for all the Open Design projects. But, starting from a good definition of Open Design, we can then start discussing more about the legal aspects.

"The intent of having an Open Design definition doesn't seem at all clear from the document at"
Yes, this is not our definition, it's an old one that is really incomplete and, above all, not open. We included it in the repository as an example for discussing what's already out and how we can improve it (and which mistakes we want to avoid). We still don't have a draft of our definition.

Good points about the philosophical point of view, I think we need to consider more this topic!! There might be space for a folder / document about it, starting from mapping briefly the existing points of views... what do you think about it?
Personally, I think it is very important to consider up to which extent we can "import" any element from Open Source (including the philosophy) Software to Design, as they are very different worlds. So, starting from looking at the different views could be a good way.

By the way, great job and use of Github and Instructables for the Tacticalendar!

The Open Design Working Group member

I've renamed that old Open Design Definition as "", I hope now it will be clearer that's an old document and not ours!

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