Open-Source Design Licenses

I feel that education and development on the way that drawings and design work is made publicly available and licensed is important. I address this in an article I am working on entitled Open-Source Heater Building which is currently in pre-view mode. As we embark shortly on the Cookstove + Masonry Heater Hybrid project, we would like to understand this better.

What happens when we put drawings out into the public space? Should we have a license in place that properly lays the groundwork for protecting our intellectual property? What is intellectual property? Are watermarks on drawings sufficient?

I think there is a difference between drawings we put out in the public space for free and a body of work that we ask a monetary contribution for. With the latter, it is nice to have some assurance that the work will not be re-published without the monetary contribution for the work in order to support its development to that date and future development.

Open-Source does not necessarily equal Free. There is a lot of work that goes into providing support for open-source design that needs to receive support.

So far, the Creative Commons group of licenses is the only one I personally know about. I am not a lawyer and not interested in developing in that field but I think that education on the subject would benefit aspiring designers and contributors.

If you have experience or opinions, including specific references, please add your voice to this thread.

Hey Max, Thanks for opening this topic.
I have long been an advocate for open source projects having run Linux on all of my PC/Servers/Laptops since the mid 1990’s. I’ve also produced media related to the production and building of masonry heaters. I built my first furnace in 1987 using designs given to me by a county extension service in Montana. My first reaction was to copyright my personally created furnace topic media. I did a series of animations illustrating the design and function of a series of masonry furnaces that included “hybrids”. I’ve since place all of my personal work under a certain Creative Commons License and freely disseminate the information.
There are several types of licenses that allow for the free distribution of information that simultaneously protect various levels of “ownership”. Rather than being redundant I would prefer to point you toward two websites related to the topic.
First is Get a CC License. Put it on your website. - Creative Commons Here you will learn the ins and outs of the spectrum of licenses available for utilization.
Second is Copyleft (In contradistinction to copyright). What is Copyleft? - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation
If these two websites are reviewed you will get a clear picture of open source and the free sharing of information.
Of primary interest is often remuneration for services. For example. There are many masonry heater designs in the public domain. Often they can be found is building codes associated with various government institutions that regulate manufacturing or building. There can be various restrictions on how, where and if a masonry stove can be built on the basis of government policy. The use of these designs is required in various locations depending on the domain. Likewise they can be used anywhere else even if restrictions are not applicable. Their free use is one thing. The product of their free use is another. I can charge for building a masonry furnace but I can not charge for the designs that are in the public domain. I can custom design a furnace and charge for the design work and building even if the fundamental principles of the design are public domain. Nevertheless you can not patent or copyright a design that has long been in the public domain. The open source model builds on these ideas.
Why do it? There are several reasons.
First is the hope of the free distribution of information for the promotion of a given technology. I want everyone to learn of the fantastic efficiency and value of masonry furnaces. I want them to freely learn the principles of their function. If I was a mason/advocate of the technology I would hope that folks less confident in their building skills would hire me to build for them.
Secondly, the collective input of others interested in the technology will improve it. For example. There are advantages and disadvantages of various materials, utilization of those materials and design modifications. I’ve seen folks bury coiled copper pipe in sand in compartments adjacent to their furnace to preheat water. By this means heat can be controlled for various desired objectives. The design allowed for some heat (when desired) to be used for water warming instead of house warming.
Third: The free distribution of information allows for the utilization of technologies for those unable to afford its use if payment is required. The same principles of masonry furnaces apply to a greater or lesser degree whether they are made of clay, brick or soap stone. Depending on the capacity of an individual it will determine what the furnace is made of and who builds the furnace.
Fourth: To compensate for the cultural promulgation of knowledge. In ages past skill sets and trade secrets where passed down for one generation to the next. By this means a steady progression of value was imbued to individuals making them experts at a given task like boat building or grain milling. Our culture has long since breeched this ancestral mechanism. That’s why our surnames often do not match our vocations in life. I think one of the most tragic examples of this breech is in the realm of Traditional Ecological Knowledge. We’ve lost more than we know because of a forced transition from one culture to another. Open source allows for the recovery of some of that information and skill.
Just some thoughts to stimulate some discussion.