FLOK: Policy Paper on Free Hardware

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Jenny Torres ([email protected])

IAEN-Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales, Quito, Ecuador


draft version [1] (April 2014)

Executive Summary

The goal of this document is to create and promote a sustainable society in Ecuador based upon open source technologies. This document describes the importance of basing sustainable technology development on Open Source Hardware (OSHW). The development of technology, hand in hand with the adjustment of individual lifestyles, for instance recycling or energy saving, would increase the conservation of natural resources, thus achieving a technological sustainability. Open hardware is a practice where designs are shared through open licenses in a community. Those designs can be used by manufacturers, who can make and sell the product, eventually making a profit, but without any rent deriving from intellectual property.

For sustainable technology, openness is the focus of value. Innovation, collaboration and community are key features of this implementation in the context of common resources and open knowledge. The acceleration of knowledge is one of the main goals of achieving a free and sustainable hardware, which means sharing it and educating various communities. One of the motivation for basing sustainable development on OSHW is to enable and accelerate innovation and production (Bauwens 2011). Innovation should not be privatized. Shared licenses for hardware designs insure that any innovation that is collaboratively produced can benefit all members of a shared and open ecosystem.

In the case of production, open design communities do not only think differently about the product or service they are working on, but they also think differently about the production process. This is because designers are inherently interested in “designing-for-making”, and therefore they are interested in lowering the threshold of participation, minimizing the capital requirements and level of centralization that is required. In other words, open hardware design is linked with open and distributed manufacturing. Localized production holds the promise of many savings in transportation costs, while losing none of the benefits of scale, as they can count on open and global innovation and research communities.

Introduction and Focus: General Background

The Statement of principles for OSHW is a high level overview done by freedomdefined.org[1] and endorsed by different persons and organizations.In this document, we have referred to version 1.0, nevertheless, there is already a draft of a new version. _ “Open source hardware is hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design. The hardware’s source, the design from which it is made, is available in the preferred format for making modifications to it. Ideally, open source hardware uses readily-available components and materials, standard processes, open infrastructure, unrestricted content, and open-source design tools to maximize the ability of individuals to make and use hardware. Open source hardware gives people the freedom to control their technology while sharing knowledge and encouraging commerce through the open exchange of designs”._

The historical antecedents to Open Source Hardware (OSHW) include the open source and free software movements, from which OSHW derives its principles. Despite the deep roots of this legacy, OSHW only became known in the last decade. This was mostly due to the rise of the Internet, which made sharing hardware designs possible, the commercial success of open source software, which gave it public visibility, and the decrease in cost of production tools, which made it feasible (OSHWA 2013). OSHW offers an opportunity to contribute to bridging the technological, educational and cultural gaps between developing and developed countries. Indeed, despite being a recent phenomenon, there are about 84 research groups in 17 countries[2], which aim to contribute to the open source “ideal”, and about 71 countries commercializing it, including Ecuador (Making Society 2013).

Technological sustainability

Sustainability is the capacity to persist. Moving towards sustainability is a social challenge that involves international and national policies, as well as the change of individual lifestyles focusing on reducing the impact in terms of human resources, rather than thinking in terms of ecological footprint. Much of the poverty and environmental pollution around the globe could be prevented by known technologies, nevertheless, there is a lack of access to critical information for sustainable development. Achieving technological sustainability is a challenge where industries must ensure world’s needs for energy, transport, water and healthcare, being aware of the limits of the environment.

An appropriate technology (Pearce 2012a), supported by the “open source” definition is focused on creating a technological model for sustainable development with special consideration to the environmental, ethical, cultural, social, political, and economical aspects of local communities it is intended for. An appropriate technology is made up of technologies from readily available components and materials as well as standard processes. The main goals of the use of this technology is to create a paradigm, in which anyone can learn how to make and use needed technologies free of intellectual property concerns; to add the collective open source knowledge ecosystem by contributing ideas, designs, observations; and to share technology plans and experiences, for a new technological revolution built on a dispersed network of innovators working together to create a sustainable world.

The Appropedia foundation, a site for collaborative solutions in sustainability, poverty reduction, and international development on the Internet, offers one of the best examples of this Open Source Appropriate Technology (OSAT) since it take advantage of the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The open source paradigm is gaining relevance in hardware, with devices such as open source electronic prototyping platforms (Arduino) which can be used to build a self-replicating 3D printer (RepRap), capable of manufacturing solid complex pieces without the need for expensive industrial infrastructure. For instance, RepRap’s software and the printer designs are open and available free of charge, while the printer can also make most of its own components.

“The bottom line is not that we’re going to run out... but it’s an issue on which we need focus, to build the supply base and to improve those technologies which use and reuse these materials. It needs to be a focus of research and development” - Randolph E. Kirchain - Principal Research Scientist at MIT.

Problems and Challenges

In the current environment, there are a lot of problems concerning the adaptation of a sustainable hardware. One of the main problems is the high production costs commonly associated with foreign technological dependence. The problems associated with costs, implies that not everyone can have access to the right technology, and thus, the consumer of the product must take the product offering the market, which usually does not meet the specific requirements of a particular consumer. In proprietary hardware there is a lot of redundant design (reinventing the wheel). Instead of using the previous knowledge and innovating in new areas of research and production, there is a waste of time, avoiding researchers to advance more substantially.

Finally, hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders, and individuals use Digital Rights Management (DRM) in order to control the use of digital content and devices. This action retains the knowledge, privatizing it, in large manufacturing industries, thus creating economic inefficiencies. With the reduction of costs for computing and networking, the enhancement of innovation is implicit as well as the freedom to chose. For a sustainable design, some key areas should be considered; for instance, a renewable energy research and production, higher-bandwidth services, recycling and specially the technological sovereignty through the use of open hardware. This will break the technological dependence and gets the freedom that open source hardware provides.

There are different reasons for focusing research in different frameworks and contexts in OSHW. Firstly, it is relatively cheap and deeply embedded with high-technology. Also, OSHW can be easily studied and modified to serve certain educational purposes, motivating human cooperation and knowledge sharing. Cooperation emerges as a distinctly human combination of innate and learned behaviors, thus the open source philosophy is aligned with our natural tendency toward cooperation (Pearce 2014). OSHW could bring back manufacturing to the countries that have lost it, which means that it becomes imperative to develop public policies for 3D printing even if manufacturing jobs are starting to come back.

Projects and Initiatives

Among the organizations and initiatives that have helped to establish OSHW, there are OHANDA[3], OSHW[4], OSHWA[5]. Within these OSHW communities, there is already information published regarding designs and commercialization of parts in order to build an OSHW prototype. Mathilde M., member of Makingsociety.com, presented during the Open Hardware Summit 2013 a report entitled “The state of open hardware entrepreneurshipin 2013” (Revilla 2013). From 100 companies surveyed, EEUU leads the industry of OSHW startups with 68 enterprises, then Europe with 19 and finally, Asia with only 7. In 2007, only 5 enterprises were funded. Nowadays, there are around 22 composed by engineers (83%), designers (17%), professors (14%) and entrepreneurs (7%). Of these, 63% come from the electronic industry, 15% from manufacturing and less than 5% come from transportation, architecture and energy. The open hardware platforms become the platform where people start to develop their own products. From 4000 professional engineers and over 4000 students and hobbyists surveyed, about 56% of the professional engineers said they were more likely to use open-source hardware while 80% of the students and hobbyists are interested in using it (Hare 2013).


New hardware licenses are often explained as the "hardware equivalent" of a well-known Open Source Software (OSS) license, such as the GPL, LGPL, or BSD license. Despite the similarities to software licenses, most hardware licenses are fundamentally different, since they rely on patent law than on copyright law. While a copyright license may control the distribution of the source code or design documents, a patent license may control the use and manufacturing of the physical device built from the design documents. The concept of “open-source hardware” or “open hardware” is not yet as well known or widespread as the free software or open-source software concept. Nevertheless, it shares the same principle, which says that anyone should be able to see the source (the design documentation in case of hardware), study it, modify it and share it. Open Hardware licenses govern the use, copying, modification and distribution of hardware design documentation, and the manufacture and distribution of products. Among the new licenses that have been proposed for OSHW we have:

  • The TAPR Open Hardware License[6]: drafted by attorney John Ackermann, reviewed by OSS community leaders Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond, and discussed by hundreds of volunteers in an open community discussion.
  • Balloon Open Hardware License[7]: used by all projects in the Balloon Project
  • Hardware Design Public License: written by Graham Seaman, administrator of Opencollector.org
  • The Solderpad License[8]: is a version of the Apache License version 2.0, amended by lawyer Andrew Katz to render it more appropriate for hardware use.
  • CERN Open Hardware License (OHL)[9]: intended for use with the Open Hardware Repository and other projects.

In the case of the last one, if modifications are made and distributed, it must be under the same license conditions. This is the “persistent” nature of the license, which ensures that the whole community will continue benefiting from improvements, in the sense that everyone will in turn be able to make modifications to these improvements. There are also some other OSHW projects using the existing, free and open-source software licenses such as:

  • Opencores [10]: LGPL or a Modified BSD License
  • FreeCores[11]: GPL
  • Open Hardware Foundation[12]: promotes "copyleft" or other permissive licenses
  • Open Graphics Project: MIT license, GPL, and a proprietary license


The temporary working spaces had led to increase coworking possibilities (P2P foundation 2012). Coworkingis a different type of organizational work that involves the creation of mutualized collaborative workspaces and regroup a network of professionals from different working areas, independent workers, nomad workers, entrepreneurs and freelancers. At the beginning of 2013, more than 1.200 coworking spaces are operatingin Europe[13]. In less than 5 years, the total of coworking spaces has overtaken, for instance, the total of incubators and innovation centers operating in Europe. Among this coworking movement we can mention specifically two: hackerspaces and FabLabs.

A hackerspace is a nonprofit organization owned and run by it’s members in a spirit of equality, also referred to as a hacklab, maker space, or hackspace. In a hackerspace, people with common interests in science, technology, digital or electronic art can meet, socialize and collaborate sharing tools, equipment and ideas without discrimination even to outsiders (P2P foundation 2012). The number of hackerspaces has reached over 660 locales in early 2012, according to one hackerspace directory[14]. A FabLab is a fabrication laboratory with modern computer controlled equipment that aim to develop personal fabricators. This network is expanding in different cities planning to implement more than one FabLab, in order to see their local impact and their interactions. Among the successful implementations of FabLabs we have (Menichinelli 2013a):

  • Barcelona FabCity project, consists of expanding the number of the FabLabs within the city of Barcelona, enabling each area of the city to be self-sustainable in the production and manufacturing (Menichinelli 2013a). Nowadays, Barcelona has two FabLabs, one is in the east of the city and another in the old town. Nevertheless, they plan to implement another one in the disadvantaged neighborhood of Ciutat Meridiana and a Green FabLab in the northern outskirts of Barcelona, over the mountains around the city, which will be centered around sustainable digital fabrication technologies for the green environment. It’s main objective is to show that this model can transform production methods, as well as social bonds.
  • FabLab Manchester plans to open a network of 30 Labs across the UK over the next eight years, and some of them could be in the same city. However, this project seems not to be part of any public policy. The FabLab Manchester is owned and run by The Manufacturing Institute, a charity funded by manufacturers and universities that works with companies to help improve skills and productivity.
  • [email protected], was the first FabLab opened by Stanford University in Moscow. Nowadays, the Russian Ministry of Economic Development will be financing a network of more than 20 labs in Moscow and its surroundings, with more than 100 others expected across Russia.

The Ecuadorian Political Framework

“Ecuador has the historic opportunity to exercise its economic, industrial and scientific governance of strategic sectors with sovereignty. This will generate wealth and raise our people’s overall standard of living” (Buen Vivir 2013).

The Ecuadorian National plan policies associated with the “Open Technical Infrastructures” stream corresponds to: Objective 11: To ensure the sovereignty and efficiency of strategic sectors for industrial and technological transformation. 11.3 To democratize public telecommunications service provision and information and communication technologies (ICTs), including radio and television broadcasting and the radio electric spectrum, enhancing universal usage and access.After an extended analysis of the actual situation of Ecuador referring Objective 11, the National Plan states policies and strategic guidelines in order to achieve the following goals:

  • Achieve a digitizing rate of 41.7 (digitizing rate in 2011: 32.8)
  • Achieve an e-government rate of 0.55 (e government rate in 2012: 0,49)
  • Decrease digital illiteracy to 17.9% (digital illiteracy from 15 to 49 years old in 2012: 21.4)
  • Increase the percentage of people using ICTs to 50.0% (people older than 5 in 2012: 41.4)

The diagnosis shown in the National Plan shows a more democratic access to information in the last years, as well as the improvement of the services. The main goal of Objective 11 of the Good Living Plan is focused on expanding the use of ICTs in Ecuador in order to eliminate the digital divide. Based on Open Technical Infrastructure stream, this research will be focused on policies for innovation and production of open architectures, since they play a key role for achieving sustainability. License sharing for software and hardware designs ensure that any innovation benefits all humanity and all members of a particular open ecosystem. In the case of production, open design communities not only think differently about the product or service they are working on, but also think differently about the production process. Innovation is a catalyst of progress towards a knowledge society while information technology is its backbone.

Over the last six years the Ecuadorian government has invested in the technology and telecommunication sector, looking to restructure computer systems and to take advantage of information and communications technology in order to create knowledge. On the other hand, since all fields and all industries tend to open source development (agriculture, construction, electronics, infrastructure biotechnology, among others) it is necessary to facilitate more effective, collaborative and economic efforts through the use of social knowledge production. The sum of an open source approach and a sustainable society offers us the best of both worlds for the development of the country.

In Ecuador, most of the population encouraged to develop OSHW projects are students. In the Campus Party event held in Quito last year, students from the Polytechnic University of Chimborazo, Technical University of Loja and Salesian University of Quito have developed electronic devices based on Arduino, an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple microcontroller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board.Perhaps the most important application of Arduino so far is the 3D printer (Pearce 2012b). Indeed, several projects and companies are making efforts to develop affordable 3D printers for home desktop use. Esteban Armendáriz, a 23 year old ecuadorian student, is one of the pioneers working with this technology in Ecuador. He manufactures two types of printers, a semi-professional and professional 3D printer, with costs ranging from $1,299 to $2,199. Another example related with OSHW is drone aircraft, a non-tripulated airplane, currently manufactured in Ecuador. The prototype drone, called the UAV-2 Gavilán, has been designed by the Ecuadorian Air Force (FAE) to monitor borders and hard-to-reach areas, like the Amazon rainforest, as well as for assisting investigations. Gavilán’s cost is about $500,000, meaning significant savings for Ecuador, that in 2007 had to pay $20 million to Israel for six drones, which means 7 times less than its Israeli equivalent.

Critique to capitalist models

In recent years, user-centered innovation is a new term that has been materialized. The term surfaced in the late 1990s and was first stated by Professor Eric Von Hippel, from MIT, who defined the concept as “innovation created by the user to obtain a higher user value as opposed to commercial innovations taking place within companies” (Rosted 2005). User-centered innovation processes are very different from the traditional, manufacturer-centric model, in which products and services are developed by manufacturers in a closed way, with the manufacturers using patents, copyrights, and other protections to prevent imitators from free riding on their innovation investments. The trend toward democratization of innovation applies to software and hardware, and is being driven by the continuous improving design capabilities, innovation toolkits and the ability of individual users to combine and coordinate their innovation-related efforts via new communication media such as the Internet.

The monetization strategy for OSHW is manufacturing (Cicero 2013). The natural model for open-source hardware would seem to be distributed manufacturing, which involves a number of smaller groups independently producing the same design for local distribution. Through this distributed manufacturing, the product would be available in many places, avoiding the cost associated with a separate manufacture and distributor (P2P foundation 2012). The centralized manufacturing model is a simplified form of the process followed by most corporations. Here a manufacturer produces the product and sells it to multiple distributors. Each distributor marks-up the product and resells it to consumers, which makes the product available in many places, but at a higher price to the consumer, as the manufacturer and distributor both accept a deduction (Arduino). Many other open-source hardware manufacturers use a model similar form an artisan, which means to produce and distribute products themselves. This model reduces the costs since there's only one party profiting from a product. Nevertheless, it can limit the product's availability to those places easily reached by the producer.

The Ecuadorian government guides the change of its productive matrix to a common and open knowledge management. Nowadays, knowledge has evolved from being a resource to be a “primary” resource focused on a fundamental change of the structure of society. Unlike other assets that are rare and exclusive, as raw materials, soil or oil, knowledge is created once and can benefit everyone forever. This new "knowledge society", will lead the economic and social development of Ecuador towards a sustainable society, which means a society that guarantees the life of its citizens and ecosystems through generations.

Alternative Models

Nowadays there is a lot of innovation happening in the maker community, which implies the democratization of hardware. This research focus mainly on the open source hardware related with computer and components. For instance, Arduino describes itself as a tool for making computers, and the basis for an increasing number of more specialized open source hardware projects. In this section, we present also projects related with open source laptops.

Case Study 1: Arduino

Among the most representative OSHW implementations there is Arduino (Pearce 2014), an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple microcontroller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. This microcontroller, based on a simple I/O board, can run a number of associated instruments such as, Arduino Geiger (radiation detector) pHduino (pH meter) Xoscillo (oscilloscope) and OpenPCR (DNA analysis). Essentially the board is composed of:

  1. a series of digital and analog ports for inputs (inputs can come from a variety of switches or sensors like motion, light, proximity sensors, etc.)
  2. a series of output ports connected with whatever actuator is used (motor, lights, computerized devices)
  3. a central processor (a microcontroller chip) with a flash memory where the user writes and flashes specific instructions (via USB) on how to process inputs into outputs.

Arduino[15] [16] can be used to develop interactive objects, taking inputs from a variety of switches or sensors, and controlling a variety of lights, motors, and other physical outputs. Arduino projects can be stand-alone, or can be communicate with software running on a computer. The boards can be assembled by hand or purchased preassembled and the open-source IDE can be downloaded for free. The board schematics and design files are released under the ‘‘Attribution ShareAlike 3.0’’ Creative Commons (2010) license, which means that:

  • Anyone can produce copies, redesign it, or even sell boards that copy the design, being unnecessary to pay a fee to the Arduino team or even ask their permission.
  • There is an “attribution” part of the license which means that anyone who republish the reference design, has to credit the original Arduino group.
  • If someone tweaks or changes the board, the new design must use the same or a similar Creative Commons license to ensure that new versions of the board’s schematic will be equally without fees and open to future modification and redesign.
  • The language used to program the microcontroller (Processing) is a FOSS language re adapted by the Arduino team to deal with microcontroller-enabled tangible computing.

Arduino's most important application is the 3D printer. Based in 3D printing, many other initiatives were created. In Greece, Ioannina, open source 3D printing was considered as a means of learning in an educational experiment in two high schools (Kostakis 2013). This research project attempts to examine to what extent the technological capabilities of open source 3D printing could serve as a means of learning and communication. In this three-month project, 33 students were tasked to design and produce creative artifacts, in a collaboratively way, with the aid of an open source 3D printer and a 3D design platform; most of these artifacts carry messages in the Braille language.

An initiative with more positive impact in community is the sustainable farming community in EEUU, where Marcin Jakubowski founded the Open Source Ecology (OSE). In the project, a network of farmers, engineers and supporters, have as main goal the manufacturing of the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS). This project consist on developing and publishing a complete set of machines (50) needed to build a small community cheaply and efficiently (Goodier 2011). Compared with the market price, it has reduced the cost eight times and has increased the durability of its products five times on average.


A description...

Similar developments in open agriculture, farmer to farmer cooperation and open agriculture machining designs are the Slow Tools project, Farm Hack and ADABio Autoconstructio, open designs for appropriate agricultural machines that can benefit small farmers.

Case Study 2: Open Source Computer

MobiStation (UNICEF Stories 2013), is an open source prototype developed by UNICEF Uganda in 2013 in order to enhance universal primary education. Mobistation is a solar-powered multimedia kit complete with a laptop, projector, scanner, and speakers, all contained in a portable suitcase. It works by projecting e-books, teaching videos, and other multimedia content in rural schools and health centers. The educational content for MobiStation is developed and recorded by the country’s top teachers in subjects like english, math, social studies, and science (UNICEF Stories 2014).


The main goal of this open source kit is to address challenges of the education system like teacher absenteeism, poor-quality instruction, and lack of textbooks. In the other hand, it can be also used specifically for emergency situations where affected areas could setup a temporary school or communication center, even in places lacking electricity and Internet connection. According with UNICEF’s innovation principles, MobiStation is an open source technology where technical specifications and testing results will be available for individuals or enterprises to use or adapt according to their needs. The main idea is that public and private sectors work together on open source technology, to ensure that children have access to quality education anytime, anywhere.

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is a project focused on the distribution of a PC built with the purpose of providing every child in the world access to knowledge and information technology as well as modern forms of education. The laptop is based on a GNU / Linux platform, and is energy efficient, which means that using a mechanical crank device, it can generate enough power for operation. A wireless device connectivity allows the device to connect to each other and to the Internet from anywhere. These laptops will initially be sold to governments and issued to children in different schools.

This laptop ensures technological sustainability since:

  • Its estimated lifetime is 2.5 times longer than a standard notebook (five years instead of two).
  • It has half the weight of a normal laptop.
  • Their batteries last up to four times longer than standard.
  • Consumes 10 times less energy than a normal laptop.
  • It compliant the RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) in electrical and electronic equipment).
  • There is a recycling program in all countries where it is distributed.

In SouthAmerica, Argentina, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Costa Rica had considered the adoption of this platform in public education. The main goal is to support the overall education of children, through the provision of a laptop with educational content to teachers and students of primary education in national public schools. Nowadays, OLPC project released their laptops based on Linux operating system. However, they are working to negotiate a more open hardware design with the next generation.

Case Study 3: Free hardware in Venezuela

Among the different communities working on the design, development, testing and technical support of Free Hardware in Venezuela, there are Open Collector, OpenCores and GEDA project. The Free Hardware community works since the beginning of 2010 with the Pingüino Ve project. This proyect stimulates the domestic production of technology and meet human needs in multiple areas, for a sustainable production of electronic devices in the country. It involves the development of computer program code, as well as drawings and diagrams to build electronic devices with free technology. Apart from this, there are also different projects that support the Free Hardware manufacturing, like Proyect VIT (desktop computers and laptops), the educational project Canaima and the cellular phones (Vergatario, Orinoco). In public administration the different projects are:

  • The public administration planning program allows the planning for software and hardware needs in different institutions. It involves the acquisition of computer equipment, determining the time and the reason for acquiring it. This program determine the feasibility of public institutions and the best way to solve them.
  • The human resources training and certification in hardware approve and assist public institutions as well as people with innovations with respect to the incorporation of new technologies in benefit of society.
  • The reuse and recycling of hardware program seeks to raise awareness in society and industries about the manufacturing of computers with ecological elements to understand the importance, in health, of the reuse of technology waste. This program involves national and international agreements to decrease pollution and solid waste residues coming from hardware industry.
  • The hardware national industry program strengthens the manufacturing of computers made in Venezuela satisfying international standards and allowing the creation of technology cooperatives.

Preliminary General Principles for Policy Making

The distribution terms of OSHW must comply with the following criteria:

  1. The hardware must be released with documentation including design files, and must allow modification and distribution of the design files.
  2. The documentation for the hardware must clearly specify what portion of the design, if not all, is being released under the license.
  3. If the licensed design requires software, it must be released under an OSI (Open Source Initiative) approved open source license or to have the sufficient documentation for the interfaces.
  4. The license shall allow modifications and derived works. To be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original work, as well as the manufacture, sale, distribution, and use of products created from the design files, and derivatives thereof.
  5. The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the project documentation. Not require a royalty or other fee for such sale or sale of derived works.
  6. The license may require derived documents, and copyright notices associated with devices, to provide attribution to the licensor when distributing design files, manufactured products, and/or derivatives thereof.
  7. The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.
  8. The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the work (including manufactured hardware) in a specific field of endeavor.
  9. The rights granted by the license must apply to all to whom the work is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.
  10. The rights granted by the license must not depend on the licensed work being part of a particular product
  11. License must not restrict other hardware or software
  12. License must be technology-neutral

Concerning OSHW, the recommendations linked to the issues Open Design are (Menichinelli 2013b):

  1. Include design within innovation and business incubators and their networks (No. 7).
  2. Create guidelines, codes of practice, legal frameworks and experimental spaces to promote the use of Open Design (No. 8).
  3. Increase the use of design/designers in public sector innovation // Through supporting designers’ greater involvement in ‘living labs’ where social innovation and public services are critical challenges (No. 16).
  4. Raise the level of design literacy for all the citizens of Europe by fostering a culture of design learning for all at every level of the education system (No. 20).
  5. Open Design seeks to restructure the relationship between the actors involved in a design process using the advantages offered by new approaches to intellectual property protection and the new ways of working enabled by technology.

Policy Recommendations

The main advantages for using OSHW is the pressure that open source designs put on proprietary products. Making a product open source means that the price will be reduced at least 8 times comparing with commercial designs. In the other hand, there is also an educational value to seeing how a design really works. Open-source design makes people more aware and appreciative of how things work, which is good for society. With an open source community, an innovation can be spreaded. If an idea or design is good, maximizing its proliferation and minimizing barriers to its use will maximize society’s benefit enabling customization and therefore use of the design. Part of the charm of open source software is the "do-it-yourself" (DIY) aspect of it. It allows more people to scrutinize a design and catch mistakes and improve a feature, leading to better products, for later sharing that enhancement with the community. It means that those products can be available even if the original manufacturer ceases production.

The main reasons for the development of policies for the acquirement and use of Open source Hardware are:

  • sovereignty and national security
  • growth and support of research and development strategies
  • changes in the education area
  • new opportunities in the industry area guiding the decentralization of the population
  • improvement of the overall economy converting the country in a potential customer giving priority to domestic producers in different areas of hardware

Among the policy recommendations for the use of Open Source Hardware in public administration, we have:

  1. To create guidelines, codes of practice, legal frameworks and experimental spaces to promote the use of Open Design. This implies to raise the level of design literacy for all the citizens by fostering a culture of design learning at every level of the education system.
  2. To identify opportunities to realize strategic national goals and a high ROI on open-source scientific hardware.
  3. To create an Open Technology Assessment Office, which main goal will be to make an assessment in order to identify the country largest current expenditures on equipment and the most likely future expenditures based on open source hardware. Based on this assessment, to rank all science based purchases from internationally-sourced suppliers and identify open-source devices that can be developed.
  4. To find a government funding for the development of open-source scientific hardware. This can be accomplished with a combination or traditional grants or contests.
  5. To create a national catalog of tested and validated free and open-source scientific hardware with the bill of materials, digital designs, instructions for assembly, operation and all software and firmware.
  6. To provide incentives for Ecuador’s entrepreneurs to begin to produce this equipment. The government will enact purchasing policy preferences for “made in Ecuador” free and open-source hardware.
  7. To enable distributed manufacturing in Ecuador’s universities. The implementation of “maker spaces” will be funded at each public university (including access to open-source 3D printers, machine shop tools, and laser cutters) which will be managed by their users/students, rather than by the administrators of the university. Every maker space will:
  • offer transparency in the management, governance, and operation.
  • provide a point of contact for organizations and communities seeking to create maker spaces, providing information, assessing suitability, advising on the laboratory lifecycle, and maintaining descriptions of prospective and operating sites.
  • empower individuals and communities providing the respective guidelines for their sustainable operation.
  • incentive population with different skills and interest, to access the tools required to advance in science, technology and innovation.
  • facilitate it use for training, job creation, research and the production of civic infrastructure for a range of individual and collaborative educational, commercial, creative, and social purposes.
  • look for or accept funds from private individuals, corporations, government agencies, or other organizations.


[1] http://freedomdefined.org/Definition

[2] http://open-source-hardware.meetup.com

[3] http://www.ohanda.org/

[4] http://freedomdefined.org/Definition

[5] http://www.oshwa.org/

[6] http://www.tapr.org/ohl.html

[7] http://www.balloonboard.org/docs/Balloon_License_0v2.pdf

[8] http://solderpad.org/licenses/

[9] http://www.ohwr.org/projects/cernohl/wiki

[10] http://opencores.org/opencores,faq#whatlicense

[11] http://sourceforge.net/projects/freecores/

[12] http://www.oshwa.org/

[13] http://coworkingeurope.net/about-coworking-conference/

[14] http://hackerspaces.org/wiki/List_of_Hacker_Spaces

[15] http://arduino.cc/

[16] http://p2pfoundation.net/Arduino

  • Bauwens, M. (2011) Why is open hardware inherently sustainable. P2P Foundation. Retrieved from: [2]
  • Buen Vivir (2013) Plan Nacional. Secretaría Nacional de Planificación y Desarrollo
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