[Open-graphics] Someone cited us, thinks they can do it cheaper
Timothy Normand Miller
theosib at gmail.com
Sun Nov 11 19:34:05 EST 2007
On 11/11/07, Michael Meeuwisse <mickeymeeuw at gmail.com> wrote:
> > OGD1 isn't in any better position. In fact, our more expensive design
> > (in terms of development costs and production costs) puts us at
> > greater risk. However, we've put a GPL license on it, for what it's
> > worth. Frankly, with the exception of a wholesale identical copy, any
> > of us would have some trouble proving in court that someone had nicked
> > our design.
> What you really have is a dual-license, with one end being GPL, if I
> understood correctly. If you want to contribute to the project, you
> have to agree with both licenses. Right? In any case, I want to go
> with something like that as well but as I said, IANAL, so I can't
> just write up a second license like that. That's why I went for the
> CC right now, it makes it possible to give all this info without me
> having to worry about the legal nitty details first.
You might want to consider adapting the Traversal license to your
needs. Note that ours wasn't (officially) reviewed by an attorney
either. I'm honestly not sure how important that always is.
So you're going to have some IP you develop yourself, such as your PCB
design. If you have an organization of your own, you might consider
some kind of dual-licensing scheme of your own. Or not. Mostly I'm
interested in dealing with what goes inside of the FPGA and the
friendly cooperation we can engage in.
Things get a little muddy when you consider how you might combine code
you've developed with ours. Naturally, any _combined_ work should
either be GPL or some other license arrangement that we agree upon.
But when it comes to your own Verilog code (or anything else), well,
it's yours. You may choose to commit to the OGP or not. Use your
judgement and your own sense of ethics. You are not _required_ to
commit your work to us under the dual license, but you should consider
honoring our _request_ that you do so. You should weigh your benefit
from our work and decide if that's great enough that we should benefit
from yours. Because we're asking to be able to commercialize what you
contribute, it may seem a little one-sided, but this is designed in to
our grand plan to be able to actually build and sell real hardware and
get it into many people's hands. Besides, 90% of the code you need is
> > Also, to be honest, the company most likely to want to clone your
> > design would be Traversal, and we wouldn't "just take it." Even if
> > you had put GPL on it, we are acutely aware of the personal and
> > ethical aspects of doing a design like this. We would negotiate a
> > mutually-beneficial arrangement, or failing that, drop the idea
> > entirely.
> Call me cynical, but the world isn't that pretty. Still, good to know ;)
Well, we're not really part of the real world, now are we? I mean, we
hold ethical concerns up unusually high. Plus, Traversal, the OHF,
and the OGP exist only because the community wants them to. If we
were to pull something, we'd be destroying ourselves. Political
> >> Another point what I'd like to make is that my recent 'interest' in
> >> how OGP is going to tackle VGA is largely also self-interest. If I'll
> >> be able to load (at least parts) of the design into my card, I'll be
> >> saving buckets of time. And hopefully vice versa.
> > We're definitely on the same page here. Do take note of our SVN
> > commit policy so that you can make informed choices about what parts
> > of your work become available to Traversal for commercial licensing.
> This is all a bit future talk, but now that you bring this up I might
> as well continue on it;
> Right now what isn't clear for me is whether or not I could use any
> code from the SVN with 'just' the GPL license above it. I believe
> that's not the case, and if my card would at some point be mass
> produced, that would cause troubles because I wouldn't be able to
> flash this code on it. The second clause of the license doesn't
> exactly cover this titbit. If it's left out, do the other clauses
> still matter (clause 4 for example won't make sense).
It's a dual license that explicitly states that you can use the work
under the terms of the GPL. You may or may not be allowed to use
OGP-related trademarks, depending on various circumstances, but the
code is out there to be used under GPL. That means that you can do
whatever you want with it and build commercial products from it, as
long as you release the source code (in some way) along with your
product. That is, if you use our PCI controller under GPL, then your
only requirement (from the GPL) is that you make it possible for the
user of your device to acquire the source code to that and anything
it's linked to.
The only unusual bit is that if you want to participate in the OGP and
be considered a "contributing member," then you should commit
additions to our SVN repository (well, that's one of the ways). That
does not in any way change YOUR rights. But it does allow Traversal
to commercialize your work in a way that does not bind it under the
Traversal was created for two purposes. One is to productize OGP
developments. Since they're hardware, they require expendatures, and
to make those expendatures, we need to be able to make profit. The
second is as an interface to the "old school" corporate world. For
the latter, we do things like use licensing deals in order to make
more profit that we can invest into developing more open hardware.
When you work with us, consider how you want your work to be turned
into hardware. None of this is about PERSONAL profit. It's about
bootstrapping a community to build hardware, which is expensive.
(Although in fairness, others have pointed out that Andy, Howard, and
I should be able to get something back from the money we've spent and
the stress this has put on our families.)
> Long story short, will I be able to use stuff from SVN with just a
> GPL license slapped on it instead of the dual license?
> All code I'm writing myself will be put under any licenses at my
> discretion, so I can put it in license X* for my own project and the
> 'traversal license' for OGP.
Yes, absolutely. It's YOUR WORK, so you own it and can do whatever
you want with it. If you license it to us, that gives us extra
rights, but it doesn't take away from yours.
> Which I will, if that piece is useful
> for OGP. But the moment other people start adding to project VGA
> there's a change the above story occurs, but then that OGP has to
> work it's way around license X.
You and those who contribute specifically to your project are the ones
who must decide what to contribute to the OGP.
Now, let's talk again about specifics here. You want to develop a
VGA-only graphics board and sell it. I'm not worried about your board
license. I think it would be just dandy if you were to use our code
to make your board work. You sell your board, you make your profit,
and you decide if you want to donate some of that money to the OHF.
In exchange, the OGP will get bug fixes and other important additions
that we can incorporate into our open graphics products. Everybody's
> In all cases we want to avoid a whole linux-steals-from-bsd story
> there was recently.
Yeah, that was ugly and unnecessary. This is why we try to be very
clear up-front about our licensing terms.
Timothy Normand Miller
Open Graphics Project
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