OSHWA released this nice set of pictures which to easily explain when you can name your product OPEN SOURCE.
Arduino made Open Source more than movement, it’s huge community of people who share and learn together.
Now Open Source is buzz word and many want to ride the wave and use for marketing without complying with the requirements.
If you look on the web there are tons of articles naming Raspberry Pi, Cubieboard, Wanda board and all other thousands of closed source hardware “open source something” boards. Playing with the words like: open source community board, open source Linux board etc. etc.
Most of the articles are made this way non intentionally but just due to ignorance, as the authors just re-produce what they have read on the vendor web sites without making efforts to read OSHW definition and to learn what is necessary to be opened to call one board (hardware) open.
Some sites plain mislead their visitors that offer Open Source Hardware like:
Other remove the Open Source Hardware text from their web but still keep it in the meta description cheating Google when one look for real opensource boards :)
No, it’s not enough for one hardware to run Open Source software to name it Open Source as well, nor it’s enough to have schematic in JPEG, PDF, Gerbers etc derivative files from the sources.
For one board (hardware) the sources are the CAD files, no matter with what product they are made. From these CAD files you can study, modify, learn, make. From the schematic in PDF you are missing essential information – how the PCB is layout, nor you can MODIFY the design. From the Gerbers you can make particular version of the board, but you still can’t modify it, it’s like to release compiled binary from the sources – you can use them but hard to modify.
To name your product OPEN SOURCE you should allow people to: Study, Modify, Distribute, Make and Sell. Some designs release even the CAD files but do not allow derivative work or commercial use, they also are not OPEN SOURCE no matter that release the CAD files, because they cut your rights to Modify, Make and Sell.
All these games with the fake “open source” hardware projects must have pissed Massimo Banzi (one of Arduino co-founders) too, who recently spoke about this: