Machinery Directive are safety guidelines for machines.
They are especially important for the countries in the European union.
- German Wikipedia Richtlinie 2006/42/EG (Maschinenrichtlinie) , videos.
- Italian Wikipedia - Direttiva Macchine
As far as I see it, there are at least three legal issues to be considered: Insurance, Certification and Product Liability
OSE Italy wants to be insured so that their own members can claim with their own health insurance when injured by improper use of the power cube or as a result of a defective power cube. I am not an expert in Italian law, but this mainly seems to be a contractual matter between OSE Italy -or its individual members-, and the insurance company or companies involved. This is, of course, to be resolved by negotiation with the insurance company in question.
You also have to consider the fact that you will probably need some kind of certification for the power cube in each of the different countries you want to export the design to. It may also well be that the insurance companies will only insure people using a certified design though I'm pretty sure there will be insurance companies out there insuring R&D activities. This is a matter that has to be resolved separately for each country in which the power cube is used. Certification is usually an expensive, long and tedious path to follow, especially when it concerns potentially dangerous machinery. It is certainly wise to contact the certifying institutions in an early stage so they can guide you through the process. Sometimes you can find an enthusiast within such an institution who can help you navigate the maze of rules and regulations. Also, sometimes, it is possible to work with uncertified designs. In the Netherlands, for instance, it is legal to build and fly homebuilt airplanes that are not certified for commercial use as long as they have been approved by the Dutch aviation authorities. It may pay off to check if "uncertified" homebuilding is possible for the power cube and other machinery. In the Netherlands for instance we have a long tradition of gliding (soaring) clubs building their own gliding winches http://www.hydrostart.nl/ which are very powerful, complex and potentially dangerous machines.
Product liability is a complex legal field that is regulated via the national laws of the EU countries but is indirectly governed by the European Product Liability Directive http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_Liability_Directive , at least for those countries that have implemented this directive. (I cannot tell you anything about the national laws of countries that have not implemented the directive in their national laws.) Countries that have implemented may still have differing regulations but the "backbone" of the directive will be in place.
In the countries that have implemented the directive, there is an unlimited liability for the producer of a product. There also is a (very) broad scope as to who is considered to be a producer meaning you are deemed to be a producer pretty soon. If you want to distribute the design as an open source product it is very important to have the builder and the end user sign a legally binding agreement exonerating the designers of the open source system for any product liability. However, this still leaves open the issue of third party injury that cannot be exonerated contractually between the (open source) designer, the producer and the end user. The question of whether the open source designer is considered to be a producer remains open to debate. I am willing to look into that if you wish.
Please note that these are general remarks about insurance, certification and product liability and that they are not detailed enough to go on. Once OSE Italy has a clearer question that concerns not only Italy but other European countries as well I may be of assistance to you.
Finally a word of caution: Using open source, uncertified and/or uninsured machinery makes it necessary that every single user of this machinery will sign a document waiving all rights to damage from product liability. Even if such a waiver is signed however, this remains a legal field with all kinds of nooks and crannies and the consequences of injury may differ from case to case and from country to country. The easiest way to avoid these issues is to make sure the machines are only operated by the people who actually built them... The operator should also make sure that all other people - "third parties" - stay well away from the machinery in order to avoid injury. Confining the use of the tools to the builders only is, unfortunately, very impractical given the goals and ideals of OSE so you will have to research and develop the legal tools necessary in each separate country.