Week 20: Invention. IP and Income
- Develop a plan for dissemination of your final project. Complete
- Prepare a summary slide and video clip in your root directory. Complete
Week 20 Contents:
I've been a Linux user for a number of years and I'm well aware of the open source concept. Just by being on the planet for a number of years I have come across various licenses - watching DVDs with warnings about broadcasting, installing software, downloading music, etc. I had, however, never really looked in detail at the licenses or idealogies beyond vaguely identifying with open source. The first thing I did this week was read about licensing.
Licensing refers to what an end user is allowed to do with intellectual property once they posess it. Licensing for films or music may restrict the distribution or broadcasting of the work, licensing for code may restrict where code is used and some licenses put very few restrictions on what is permitted.
The ease of copying and distributing digital files over the internet, something that copyright laws did not predict or react quickly to has led to a proliferation of licensing models to fill the void. A broad overview of the three main schools of thought on software licenses is included below (free, open and proprietary). The software development community has driven a lot of the thought around licenses, but the models they have created have been adapted and utilised by various other communities, not limited to academic writing and open hardware proponents.
Like almost everything that humans create, this is a complex area with subtle differences between licenses, motivations and principles.
Free software is defined by four essential freedoms and software licenses that meet these statements are regarded as free:
- The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
- The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others (freedom 2).
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
Free Software traces its origins to Richard Stallman in the 1980s and the GNU project. Stallman believes that software should be free by the above definitions and any software that limits any of the freedoms above is not Free Software. Some confusion over the use of the word 'free' is challenged on the GNU project website. Free is not used in a monetary sense, and refers to 'free as in freedom' rather than 'free as in beer'. This distinction has also been shortened to the latin-derived 'libre' and 'gratis'. The Free Software movement is not against selling software or support, but the freedoms must be maintained. In this sense free software is more of a moral or philosophical position.
Open Source Software
The Open Source Software model holds many of the same values as the Free Software movement, but does not go as far as to want proprietary software banned. OSS proponents are happy to co-exist with proprietary stakeholders - this is the status quo. The open source movement does not place the same value on absolute freedom and is more compatible with corporate interests.
Proprietary software developers retain the copyright to the code they create and do not allow end users to modify, share or study the code, they also have limited rights to run the software. Companies like Apple and Microsoft from the early days of computing have become hugely rich and powerful by using this software licensing model, providing an End User License Agreement (EULA). Fun fact: The iTunes EULA includes a line about not using the software to create nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, which in fairness seems like a good clause, however unlikely the usefulness of iTunes proves to be in that scenario.
Freeware is an interesting subsection of proprietary software. The software is free in the 'gratis' sense, but not in the 'libre' sense and the author usually retains all rights to modification, redistribution, etc.
The Creative Commons provide free copyright licenses that provide a lot more nuance than the blanket copyright protection of the UK. Users are able to dictate exactly what is permissable and what is not using a core of six copyright licenses. Attribution is a key concept within CC licenses and all licenses ask for neutral attribution to the original author of a work, whether the work is used for commercial purposes or not.
The Six Core Licenses
The following definitions are taken from the Creative Commons website:
This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.
This license lets others reuse the work for any purpose, including commercially; however, it cannot be shared with others in adapted form, and credit must be provided to you.
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.
Free Cultural Works
The different CC licenses offer various levels of 'freedom'. All offer more than the previously ubiquitous 'all rights reserved', but the most permissive licenses are marked with 'Approved for Free Cultural Works'.
A permissive free software license from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with very limited restrictions - as long as the copyright information is included, then the software can be used without restriction, but no warranty is provided.
MIT License Copyright (c) [year] [fullname] Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions: The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software. THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.
Dissemination of my project
The idea behind my project was to add some exciting physical computing to GCSE level Computer Science. I am not financially motivated and not interested in developing a business. My interest is in the shared development of human knowledge and to that end I will release my project under a permissive license, allowing schools or anyone with an interest to use and modify the project without restriction. I think the
To actually distribute the project there are a number of options available to me. The main disseminator of teaching resources in the UK is TES (Times Educational Supplement). The rocket project would fit in to a number of categories: Physics, Design, Engineering and Technology, Electronics or Computer Science.
Another huge site that allows free uploading of projects is Instructables. I already have a very basic published Instructable with 336,887 views (5th of June, 2019), so I know this site can generate a lot of traffic.
Youtube and Vimeo are other ways that I might disseminate the project, with links to the files through a git repository.
Future of my project
The current rocket is a product of spiral development, the available time and pressures of working quickly created a final prototype which fell below what I initially conceived. The rocket has a 3-axis accellerometer and outputs data from that sensor to an SD card. This puts it somewhere between the first and second spirals. The other development goals are laid out here: