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From Definition of Free Cultural Works
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Definition (work-in-progress)

Open-source hardware is that for which its designer:

  • provides design files (in the preferred format for making modifications to them)
  • allows the modification and redistribution of the design files
  • allows the manufacture, sale, distribution, and use of devices from the design files or modifications of the design files

without discrimination against persons, groups, or fields of endeavor. Additionally, the designer must release under an open-source license any software it has developed that is essential to the proper functioning of the device.

The designer may require others to:

  • provide attribution when distributing design files based on the original designer's
  • provide attribution when manufacturing devices based on the original designer's design files or derivatives thereof
  • release as open-source hardware devices based on the original designer's design files or derivatives thereof

Manufacturers of a derivative device must not:

  • imply that the device is manufactured, tested, warrantied, guaranteed, or otherwise sanctioned by the original designer
  • make use of any trademarks owned by the original designer without explicit permission

We also recognize that open-source is only one way of sharing information about hardware and encourage and support all forms of openness and collaboration, whether or not they fit this definition.


This (draft) definition is the product of discussion between attendees of the Opening Hardware workshop at Eyebeam (New York City), March 17, 2010, in particular:

  • Ayah Bdeir, Eyebeam
  • Benjamin Mako Hill, MIT
  • David A. Mellis, MIT Media Lab and Arduino
  • Gianluca Martino, Arduino
  • Limor Fried, Adafruit Industries
  • Massimo Banzi, Arduino
  • Nathan Seidle, SparkFun
  • Phillip Torrone, Make and Adafruit Industries
  • Thinh Nguyen, Creative Commons
  • Tom Igoe, ITP and Arduino
  • Zach Smith, MakerBot
  • Ken Gilmer, Bug Labs
  • Alicia Gibb, Bug Labs