[TangerineSDR] Tangerine licensing

John Ackermann N8UR jra at febo.com
Thu Apr 2 11:45:07 EDT 2020

This thought was prompted by my other message...

We should formalize the requirements for licensing Tangerine hardware
and software work product.

For software, I would recommend simply requiring an OSF-approved open
source license.  We should consider a copyright assignment from
contributors, as discussed below.  While I'd personally prefer to use
GPL, that could be an inhibiting factor for some organizations that
might be involved so I'm comfortable with allowing any OSF license.

For hardware, I think we've agreed that the TAPR OHL
(http://tapr.org/OHL) should be used.

But because of the economics of hardware design and manufacture, the
implementation is not quite as straigh-forward as for software.  The
problem is that immediately publishing the full design documentation
with gerbers, etc., could bring on competitors who might undercut the
market while TAPR is left holding inventory that required significant
up-front investment (we had first-hand experience with this problem
several years ago).

The way TAPR has normally dealt with this issue is to ask each design
contributor to sign an agreement that says a few things:

1.  The product will be licensed under OHL.

2.  TAPR has the exclusive right to produce an initial production run of
the Product.  That right ends __ days after first product shipment.

3.  Developer may release descriptions, images, and schematics at any
time, but may not provide Gerbers or other manufacturing documentation
until after the exclusivity period ends.

4.  Once the exclusivity period is over, everyone has the right to
publish full manufacturing documentation.

5.  Developer assigns his/her IP rights in the design to TAPR, and TAPR
gives back a very broad license that pretty much allows the developer to
do whatever they want except outright sell the IP.  This is similar to
what the FSF does with individual contributors to its software projects;
it gets the project rights in one place to make potential negotiations
easier (e.g., offering products under a dual-license structure).

A copy of an agreement to accomplish that is attached.  I'd welcome any
thoughts about this approach, but it is something we should close on
pretty soon.

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