Why OSE Doesn't Support the Use of Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licenses
Explanation Based on OSE's Revenue Model
NC=Non-Commercial, referring to the Creative Commons licenses that have the NC stipulation.
(more about the Creative Commons Non-commercial License)
Our core goal is to create the open source economy. We do this by developing a viable business model that allows, and encourages, others to 'rip off our business model,' simply because we think it is good for the world. We publish not only our machine blueprints, but also business models - containing critical sourcing and ergonomics information - which if replicated - means that the number of open source hardware companies is increasing. That is a good thing.
The financial critic will claim that such a business model cannot be sustained. OSE believes that it can be sustained - except the business model must be different than the standard models based on proprietary information. The task at hand is to uncover a business model that works - while allowing and encouraging others to replicate an enterprise in an economically-significant way.
The power of open source, libre technology is manifest when others can gain economic benefit from the technology - there is an incentive to develop when the potential developer has a viable path for making a living from producing and developing a given technology.
For this reason, it is indispensible that we allow others to use our information without any restriction - so that people are motivated to contribute to a project not only on ethical grounds, but on economic grounds.
Creative Commons Non-Commerical - and any licenses that do not allow commercial production of hardware - do not follow the Open Source Hardware Definition - (http://www.oshwa.org/definition/) which is a landmark definition for the world of open hardware. The NC license de-incentivises collaboration by those individuals who are interested in producing the goods to make a living - thereby compromising a great opportunity for additional development - because producers typically become involved in development in some way. Most importantly for OSE - it is not consistent with our business model.
OSE is developing an open business model for producing Global Village Construction Set technologies based on assisting others in replicating our enterprise model. The model relies on a combination of production and education - a learning factory of sorts. In 2014, we are developing this Learning Factory model. We create intensive, 3 day immersion learning experiences - where people learn about design, rapid prototyping, documentation, and open enterprise - while producing one of our machines. This is an extreme experience based on our extreme production efficiencies - where we have shown that we can produce heavy machinery on the time scale of a SINGLE DAY. We accomplish this by using our parallel, collaborative production methods.
Using this Learning Factory model involves running paid-for immersion workshops. This model involves a dual revenue stream. First, we charge people for a well-organized, high value learning experience based on unleashing the power of radical collaboration. This means that we are charging people for our hands-on expertise as teachers - as all of our course materials are published openly PRIOR to the workshop. Second, we sell a resulting machine to a client. As a nonprofit organization, we put all the proceeds back into further research and development along with our education and training mission.
At the same time, all course materials are also published openly in the form of Civilization Starter Kit manuals. During each workshop, these documents are edited and upgraded in realtime using innovative application of widely-accessible internet tools - by the workshop participants, based on learnings and activities in the workshop. Part of the workshop involves a study of the open enterprise model for producing machines or for producing ancillary services based on the machines. Thus, we release all of our economically-significant information on an ongoing basis - because we think that this is the deepest way that humans can collaborate. We pride ourselves in releasing all of our information - before we even ship any product.
To succeed in our Learning Factory model, we rely on our own information being open. OSE uses the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license for designs. And we also build upon many other great open-source, libre hardware projects - such as Arduino, RepRap, Lulzbot, Lasersaur, WikiHouse, Farmhack, Velocar, Protei, and many others.
Sharing is a timeless idea, and the information age provides the world with an opportunity to create the sharing economy. If you are a project that currently uses the NC license, we encourage you to switch to a license that follows the Open Source Hardware Definition. Join the open source hardware revolution.
General Explanation of Why It is not Advisable (for OSE) to Work with NC or Proprietary Projects
Typically OSE likes to avoid building upon NC or other proprietary designs beacause working with proprietary knowhow is not as easy as working with open source projects. This is for several reasons:
- Typically NC designs will not include all the information necessary for replication, as the authors are not as likely to help with information requests - because they are fundamentally protecting their design, and specifically, their commercial interests
- Working with NC projects is a conflict of interest, in other words, further collaboration is not likely to happen between the two projects involved beause of different goals around the revenue models
- There is a risk of IP trouble - such as accusation of stealing IP or even litigation - from the NC project, if our eventual designs resemble the ones from the NC design. It is more likely that we inadvertently 'steal' their design, which is why it is safer to start from scratch so no such claims can be made against OSE in the future
- There are typically other designs that are open source OSHWA compliant that meet our needs, and finding those typically leads to better community building and collaboration
- OSE is interested in open collaboration, and collaboration with NC projects is not open. It is a form of competitive waste.
So in general, we like to stay away from NC designs because their downside overweighs the upside - the upside being the opposite of the 4 points above.