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Open Hardware Initiative

Contributor(s): Brita Van Fossen

The Open Hardware Initiative is a CERN project created to promote and support open source hardware development.

Drawing from the open source software movement, the project is intended to foster collaboration and create transparency in the hardware development process and, as a result, produce better and more cost-effective products.

Open source hardware is constructed using design and development-related information that could have been copyrighted but is instead offered freely and made publicly accessible. The information  provided typically includes schematic diagrams, parts lists, construction parameters and documentation.

In March 2011, CERN released the Open Hardware License (OHL) or the CERN-OHL, which specifies terms and conditions for using, copying, modifying and distributing open source hardware. The document establishes a legal framework that will allow for the formal recognition and endorsement of open source hardware, while protecting intellectual property. The Open Hardware Repository (OHR) is the online venue where engineers can collaborate and share information in accordance with the OHL.

CERN, a high-energy particle physics organization headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is  the creator of the Large Hadron Collider. The organization uses open source software extensively and hopes to benefit from the hardware advances they expect as a result of the project.

 

See also: shared source, copyleft, proprietary, OpenNMS (Open Network Management System), GNU General Public License

 

Continue reading about the Open Hardware Initiative:

 > Learn more about open source licensing.

 > CERN announces the Open Hardware Initiative.

> Ars technica reports on the project.

 > The CERN Courier provides more information about their initiative.

This was last updated in December 2011

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