Open Source Hardware (OSHW) is a term for tangible artifacts -- machines, devices, or other physical things -- whose design has been released to the public in such a way that anyone can make, modify,
distribute, and use those things. This definition is intended to help
provide guidelines for the development and evaluation of licenses for
Open Source Hardware.
It is important to note that hardware is different from software in that physical resources must always be committed for the creation of physical goods. Accordingly, persons or companies producing items
("products") under an OSHW license have an obligation not to imply that
such products are manufactured, sold, warrantied, or otherwise
sanctioned by the original designer and also not to make use of any
trademarks owned by the original designer.
The distribution terms of Open Source Hardware must comply with the following criteria:
The hardware must be released with documentation including design files, and must allow modification and distribution of the design files. Where documentation is not furnished with the physical product,
there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining this documentation
for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost preferably, downloading
via the Internet without charge. The documentation must include design
files in the preferred form for which a hardware developer would modify
the design. Deliberately obfuscated design files are not allowed.
Intermediate forms analogous to compiled computer code -- such as
printer-ready copper artwork from a CAD program -- are not allowed as
2. Necessary Software
If the hardware requires software, embedded or otherwise, to operate properly and fulfill its essential functions, then the documentation requirement must also include at least one of the
following: The necessary software, released under an OSI-approved open
source license, or other sufficient documentation such that it could
reasonably be considered straightforward to write open source software
that allows the device to operate properly and fulfill its essential
3. Derived Works
The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original hardware. The license must allow for the manufacture, sale,
distribution, and use of products created from the design files or
derivatives of the design files.
4. Free redistribution
The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the project documentation as a component of an aggregate distribution containing designs from several different sources. The
license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale. The
license shall not require any royalty or fee related to the sale of
The license may require derived works to provide attribution to the original designer when distributing design files, manufactured products, and/or derivatives thereof. The license may also require
derived works to carry a different name or version number from the
6. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups
The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.
7. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor
The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the hardware in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the hardware from being used in a business, or from being used
in nuclear research.
8. Distribution of License
The rights attached to the hardware must apply to all to whom the product or documentation is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.
9. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product
The rights attached to the hardware must not depend on the hardware being part of a particular larger product. If the hardware is extracted from that product and used or distributed within the terms of
the hardware license, all parties to whom the hardware is redistributed
should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction
with the original distribution.
10. License Must Not Restrict Other Hardware or Software
The license must not place restrictions on other hardware or software that may be distributed or used with the licensed hardware. For example, the license must not insist that all other hardware sold at
the same time be open source, nor that only open source software be used
in conjunction with the hardware.
11. License Must Be Technology-Neutral
No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual technology or style of interface.
The signatories of this Open Source Hardware definition recognize that the open source movement represents only one way of sharing information. We encourage and support all forms of openness and
collaboration, whether or not they fit this definition.