Comment on the Coercive Nature of the OSE Open IP Clause

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As founder of OSE, I am committed to voluntary interaction as the basis of the social contract. This means that I don't believe in coercion of any type. Yet, I am choosing the Creative Commons Share Alike License - which in blunt terms - forces (coerces) any user to share derivative work - whether they want to or not - if they use OSE's intellectual property. I believe that while it is not good that someone should not share their work, I believe that it is even worse to coerce - by taking away one's choice regarding sharing or not sharing.

I was against such coercion prior to certain recent events. I was recently disappointed to find out that a certain trusted collaborator was unwilling to engage in development on a particular project with us because a part of the design was copyrighted as proprietary. This made me rethink what happens to our work in the future - if someone copyrights/patents a certain improvement. I was not concerned much about such an issue - because:

  • My experience shows me that there are many ways that patents can be sidestepped by human ingenuity - and patents would not effect the core direction of our work.
  • Patents are moot when one is producing for themselves - which is going to be the increasing case as consumer society increases its skills and transitions to community-based solutions of relocalized production
  • There is a sufficiency criterion that is essential in our work. If we have the highest performance machine, do we need even higher performance, if it comes at a cost? For example, we have developed a brick press that was demonstrated to produce a max of 16 bricks per minute. Do we really need a machine that produces 17 bricks per minute if we use even more power and finetune the speed even further? It's a moot point to do so, since there are systems considerations which indicate that 16 bricks is not only enough, but excessive in all but rare situations. -MJ 5/5/12

Thus, I am still not concerned personally that copyrights/patents will ever stand in our way - but the same IS a concern for some of our collaborators. Therefore, to ensure involvement of such valuable contributors, I am choosing the Share Alike license. This is relevant in a case where someone copyrights/patents an improvement on our work, and we lose contributors who are intimidated from further participation because of potential legal consequences.


Comment here:

I think our Open source car collaborator Wikispeed is struggling with how open they want to be: Wikispeed asks its collaborators to sign a non-compete agreement and be subject to non-disclosure rules. This could become awkward if OSE share-alike contributions get incorporated in that project. I hope this doesn't interfere with our cooperation because there is huge value in Wikispeed's experience. ChuckH 06:29, 8 May 2012 (CEST)

It is a common misconception that it is legal to build something for personal use if it is patented. It is in fact illegal to build it even for personal/non-commercial use. However, companies are unlikely to spend the legal fees unless they think its worth the money. Which might be the case in the future with open-source and internet visibility, because you are encouraging people to build their own instead of buy from them. But still not likely for a while, however I have heard of DIY'ers getting a cease & desist letter. This might be what you meant by "moot". But i wanted to clarify and call-out this further negative fact of the patent system.