Open source being used commercially

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John64
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Open source being used commercially

Post by John64 » Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:02 am

Hi happy new year,
I have read a post on facebook about company using opensource material without any mod and selling the product.
I don't know if that's true but what do you think if it is.
It's open source source so it's OK for a company to use that material and sell it ?
On the long run could it kill open source because contributors will be upset to see their work being used to make money ?
We don't care ?

Just curious.

The post:
Raph Wlodarczyk
Hier, à 13:26
I wasn't going to write this post but it's been bothering me more and more and I figured this was a good place to vent. The picture below is the VCA section of the Behringer TD-3, if that looks familiar, it should. That's the Open Music Labs BA662 Clown, down to the VCA offset mod that I added later. In fact, the whole voice section of the device is an exact copy of the x0xheart and pacemaker using the cheapest possible parts. This is an open design, the only thing asked in return for using this design was to have proper attribution. None of that is present on the Behringer device.

I have not seen the inside of their Wasp clone but the Behringer front panel is an EXACT copy of the Japser clone, NOT the Wasp Deluxe which does not have the hold, VCO level controls, or the extra waveform which was a mod that was rolled into Jasper and unique to that device, I'd wager they just took Jason's schematics and layout since he adapted modern parts which coolaudio, a Behringer subsidiary, happens make copies of.

Roman made DDRM schematics available, Behringer has a CS-80 coming (also full of Coolaudio parts).. Etc. Etc

Yes, I think it's lame for a HUGE company re-release other companies old designs instead of coming up with their own things but this is VERY different. They are stealing the contemporary work of opensource projects and synth enthusiasts who spent countless hours usually on their own time and cost figuring everything out to keep those devices alive in the modern age. Worst of all, these people have the least recourse against it.

I wouldn't be here if it weren't for Opensoure projects like x0x, midibox, Mutable Instruments and all the great people that ran them and the people that orbited them. Having Behringer come in and loot projects is infuriating and they need to be called out on it. It threatens so many things on so many levels, they are literally the Walmart of the music industry and will do the exact same thing to small music businesses that walmart did to small retail. Something to think about when you get all excited about the limited edition yellow

Feel free to share this.

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Re: Open source being used comercialy

Post by Yes Powder » Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:22 am

Is it wrong? Probably.
Is it legal? Probably. :despair:
Behringer's team of lawyers have shown themselves to have a pretty good grasp on what the company can get away with, without getting into too much trouble.
It's not even a new problem in the open-source community, and yet it still lives. While it's incredibly shitty to rip open-source schematics and not even give due credit, I doubt anything will come of it.

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by Kent » Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:30 am

It depends upon the license as issued by the developer. It's probably a-okay. You'd have to read the license.

Behringer calculates losing lawsuits into their business plans. At least they did when I worked on a case against them decades ago. If they lose 3 million but gain 5, it is 2 million in profit.

However, back to the Open Source license. Read each individual one. I won't get more into what is being mentioned in this thread as it is obvious that it emanates from from non-experts. I say this without judgement. It's a boring topic for me. Just read the licenses before freaking out.

A LOT is built commercially upon Open Source and it is not only legal, it is more than likely encouraged.

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by Jay F. » Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:45 am

Kent said it all already. I'll add my 2 cents.

There are a lot of open source licenses. Most of them allow commercial use. Even the famous Gnu Public License.

Attribution is most of the time requested and it is a simple courtesy anyway when you use the work from others.
Sometimes, commercial use is forbidden explicitly (like the cc by-nc).
Sometimes, the license mandate you to share your own work or modifications of the work in return (like the GPL)

I tried to have a look at the license used by Open Music Lab and I failed to find anything. For all I could get from 15 minutes browsing the site and the wiki, all material is free to use by anybody to do whatever shit they want without asking, including Uli Behringer.

About this killing open source : fear not, it will not ! Most people do not share their design, their codes or their schematics because of fame or to prevent others to make a buck. Non attribution is a pain in the ass and can discourage some, for sure.

Finally, do you get the irony of having a discussion about a company ripping off open source designs that are, themselves, copies from products of another company ? ;-)
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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by xonetacular » Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:55 am

Jay F. wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:45 am
Kent said it all already. I'll add my 2 cents.

There are a lot of open source licenses. Most of them allow commercial use. Even the famous Gnu Public License.

Attribution is most of the time requested and it is a simple courtesy anyway when you use the work from others.
Sometimes, commercial use is forbidden explicitly (like the cc by-nc).
Sometimes, the license mandate you to share your own work or modifications of the work in return (like the GPL)

I tried to have a look at the license used by Open Music Lab and I failed to find anything. For all I could get from 15 minutes browsing the site and the wiki, all material is free to use by anybody to do whatever shit they want without asking, including Uli Behringer.

Finally, do you get the irony of having a discussion about a company ripping off open source designs that are, themselves, copies from products of another company ? ;-)
Agreed this is what I've been saying... people getting bent out of shape about cloning a clone. People can slap a license on anything and it doesn't mean it actually holds any legal weight and they had a right to in the first place. This topic has been all over other social media the last couple days and is pretty tiring.

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by numan7 » Fri Jan 03, 2020 11:55 am

agree with the above - and also, the term "open source" refers specifically to computer software (which has source code). it doesn't really mean anything in relation to electronic circuit designs or schematic diagrams.

otoh i do suppose that instruction sets (i.e. formatted binary numbers containing bit-patterns that specify arithmetic operation codes, numeric values and memory addressing schemes that a particular computing machine architecture supports and that software code, open-source or otherwise, is compiled into) can be correctly considered 'open source' (e.g. risc-v). but the buck stops there, and i think that folks really ought to write (or say) "open hardware" when they mean something like circuits. :youkids:


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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by dksynth » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:04 pm

Citation or Attribution when using someone else's work is the most basic level of intellectual integrity across multiple industries.

That's my issue. It would have cost nothing, exposed them to nothing, and would have been a PR win.

I imagine they'll be reading all the comments and do it next time ... Behringer isn't stupid. Just predatory.

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by Flounderguts » Fri Jan 03, 2020 2:12 pm

It always looks frustrating. I developed and patented a product in another industry many years ago. I couldn't make it into a business. Last year, an Australian company cloned my 90's invention, had it made in Taiwan, and they are selling thousands of them. Not only do I not get any credit or royalty, but I cannot even afford to buy the thing I invented.

They figured out how to monetize it. I could not. Frustrating, but I'm a bit happy that my invention (an electronic safety product) is out there saving lives.

Perhaps, rather than getting angry about it, we should just appeal to the companies to give credit where credit is due. Bearing in mind that there is a very thin, blurry line between a copy or clone, and an homage to a classic.

The company in question has a polarizing effect on this community. My personal feelings are a bit ambivalent, as I am happy to get a chance to use classic clones, but I am wary of where this will go. I have never come across a Jasper for sale in my area...so being able to order a xxxxxx from Sweetwater is sort of nice.

As yet, I'm reserving judgement, while looking forward to what else they come up with. Certainly much of my DIY would be all but impossible without CoolAudio products.

I own a bit of pro-audio equipment from Behringer, and the quality has been top-notch. Certainly better than some high priced stuff I also own.

Ultimately, I feel like this road is similar to the copyright issues we have with sampled/stolen melodies, or lawsuits on parody/prior art. Or mirroring video clips on youtube to spoof spurious copyright claims.

When we, as a community, come up with a reasonable course of action that targets the issues at hand, rather than individual offenders, then I'm all in. But until then, we need to continue to discuss our concerns in a civil manner. This is an important issue that the most concerned parties have so far kept mum on. I'd love to hear what the original developers have to say about this particular direction of discussion.

Sorry for the wordyness of this reply.
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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by guest » Fri Jan 03, 2020 2:45 pm

most people who release open source works, have a licence under which they release them. if they want to defend that licence in court, they can do so, but its usually costly, with dubious outcomes. this is why i never bothered with licensing openmusiclabs work, because i was never going to bother going to court over any of it. i wanted people to use it, even commercial ventures. so, as far as the 662 goes, behringer really isnt in the "wrong", and im glad the work is getting out there. but, its just common courtesy to attribute where you get things from. its my guess they dont bother with this, because doing so would invite the possibility that they wouldnt be given permission to use the design, while at the same time acknowledging where it came from. doing it this way around, puts the burden of litigation on the smaller guy, and gives ambiguity as to where it came from. basically, as the dude put it "no walter, youre not wrong, youre just an asshole".
Last edited by guest on Fri Jan 03, 2020 11:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
openmusiclabs.com

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by Grumble » Fri Jan 03, 2020 6:36 pm

The Arduino boards are open source, so is the IDE.
So if I need an Arduino for my hobby (I use the Nano mostly) I get them from China, but for my daytime job I get them from the suppliers that sell the original made in Italy ones.
For that I buy them at Farnell, 10x the price of the Chinese knock-off.

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by UltraViolet » Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:10 pm

If you create software and release it under an open license then you should expect that people will use it for both commercial and non-commercial uses. Giving credit to the original developer is a courtesy that should always be done, but it is not always required by the license and may be impractical for some commercial uses. Behringer should be giving credit somewhere, but they probably aren't legally required to do so.

The GNU license is another story. It pretty much precludes commercial use of anything other than unmodified binary executable programs. If you release the source code for a product then it will be copied and many potential customers will use the free copy instead of buying the product. This has limited the use of software that could have become an excellent standard component of many commercial systems. It shouldn't be called "free", because in reality it is exactly the opposite.

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by luketeaford » Fri Jan 03, 2020 11:28 pm

UltraViolet wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:10 pm
If you create software and release it under an open license then you should expect that people will use it for both commercial and non-commercial uses. [...] The GNU license is another story. It shouldn't be called "free", because in reality it is exactly the opposite.
I agree that if you release your work with an open license, you should expect it to be used, but I think it's different with hardware (not my area of expertise, but it could seem like Behringer took someone else's work, built a competing product on top of it, and perhaps violated the terms of the license).

The GNU license is entirely separate, but it's "free" as in freedom and not price.

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by intropod_ » Mon Jan 06, 2020 12:12 pm

What Behringer is doing is legal. They know, and they have no plans to change. They shamelessly copy Yamaha, Roland, etc. They would not be doing that if there was a legal liability. I wouldn't expect them to give two hoots about doing the same to smaller parties.
UltraViolet wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:10 pm
The GNU license is another story. It pretty much precludes commercial use of anything other than unmodified binary executable programs. If you release the source code for a product then it will be copied and many potential customers will use the free copy instead of buying the product. This has limited the use of software that could have become an excellent standard component of many commercial systems. It shouldn't be called "free", because in reality it is exactly the opposite.
GNU is fine for commercial use. You just need to understand how it works in order to weigh the pros and cons. Pro, you get a head start on your project. Con, you need to share the changes you made with the end user.

GNU is concerned with maximizing freedom for software users, and freedom of information. This doesn't always jive with the freedom to make as much money, while not giving back to users and the developers that helped get you there.

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by UltraViolet » Mon Jan 06, 2020 8:00 pm

intropod_ wrote:
Mon Jan 06, 2020 12:12 pm
What Behringer is doing is legal. They know, and they have no plans to change. They shamelessly copy Yamaha, Roland, etc. They would not be doing that if there was a legal liability. I wouldn't expect them to give two hoots about doing the same to smaller parties.
UltraViolet wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:10 pm
The GNU license is another story. It pretty much precludes commercial use of anything other than unmodified binary executable programs. If you release the source code for a product then it will be copied and many potential customers will use the free copy instead of buying the product. This has limited the use of software that could have become an excellent standard component of many commercial systems. It shouldn't be called "free", because in reality it is exactly the opposite.
GNU is fine for commercial use. You just need to understand how it works in order to weigh the pros and cons. Pro, you get a head start on your project. Con, you need to share the changes you made with the end user.

GNU is concerned with maximizing freedom for software users, and freedom of information. This doesn't always jive with the freedom to make as much money, while not giving back to users and the developers that helped get you there.
You are just seeing the good and not the bad. Say someone develops a great library for doing some common function. If it is released under a less restrictive license then someone can improve it and release those changes back to everyone, but still be able to use it in their product without having to release all of the source code to their product that they spent years developing. In this case everyone wins and the library can become a standard that is used everywhere. Not so with GNU. If you link to any GNU licensed software then your whole program becomes subject to the GNU license. Its not about being greedy, it is about survival. Illegal free copies of software have wiped out many small software companies. The GNU license would make that unethical copying perfectly legal. GNU is not really about freedom, it is about control, hence the quotes around "free".

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by intropod_ » Tue Jan 07, 2020 12:03 pm

UltraViolet wrote:
Mon Jan 06, 2020 8:00 pm


You are just seeing the good and not the bad. Say someone develops a great library for doing some common function. If it is released under a less restrictive license then someone can improve it and release those changes back to everyone, but still be able to use it in their product without having to release all of the source code to their product that they spent years developing.
Under a less restrictive license, someone can improve it, and sell those changes to themselves for their own profit without contributing anything back. Like Arturia did with the Plaits source code. So now, users of Plaits (and DIY'ers) can't make use of any improvements Arturia made to the open source code that runs their module.

So you see, the user has less choice. Also the original developer, and the open source community, see no benefit in this situation. That's why I always release my open source code as GPL. It's best for users, and best for open source developers (and in my opinion, developers in general). If that prevents someone from commercializing my code without contributing back, that's a feature, not a bug.

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by mskala » Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:18 pm

UltraViolet wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:10 pm
The GNU license is another story. It pretty much precludes commercial use of anything other than unmodified binary executable programs.
It requires release of source code. That's not the same thing as "precludes commercial use," and it's important not to spread FUD.

EDIT: GPL sure doesn't seem to have stopped Microchip from charging money for their compilers which are based on GPL code...

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by UltraViolet » Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:14 pm

mskala wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:18 pm
It requires release of source code.
That is not complete. "It requires the release of source code OF ALL SOFTWARE LINKED TO IT!" That is the gotcha and where I think it overreaches. Requiring that you release the source code of your changes is fine and very reasonable, but taking rights to other software that someone invested their own time and money in developing is not. Big corporations have been known to ignore this requirement, but a small company can't fight off a lawsuit from the Free Software Foundation hell bent on enforcing its control over software.

I think open source is a great idea, but everything in moderation. If there was no money to be made in writing great software, there would be very little great software. Visual Studio is an amazing product that only exists because Microsoft can charge money for it and use that money to keep making it better. The development tools for Linux are decades behind. It is all because those darn talented software engineers just won't work for free. They all want money to pay rent and buy food. Selfish? Maybe...but are you ready to tell your boss to stop paying you? Having open source software and contributing to open source software are great, just not when taken to extremes.

Also you missed "pretty much". I didn't mean to say that GNU code can't be used in commercial products, but it is limited to those that won't be damaged or destroyed by releasing all of their source code. Other open source licenses don't impose that requirement and can be freely used in any commercial software. Microchip can deal with any lost sales due to open source copies since their primary business is selling chips which will still be bought by someone who didn't pay for the compiler. A company whose primary business is selling software probably can't.

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by mskala » Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:35 pm

UltraViolet wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:14 pm
mskala wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:18 pm
It requires release of source code.
That is not complete.
Yes, I didn't post the complete text of the license. But to say that it "precludes" or even just "pretty much" precludes commercial use, is actively misleading.

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by UltraViolet » Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:28 pm

mskala wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:35 pm
UltraViolet wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:14 pm
mskala wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:18 pm
It requires release of source code.
That is not complete.
Yes, I didn't post the complete text of the license. But to say that it "precludes" or even just "pretty much" precludes commercial use, is actively misleading.
Not wanting to mislead anyone, but it is best to be cautious with GNU open source. The text of the GNU license does not make it obvious that it expands to include all linked software and the definition of a derived work is very broad. However, the Free Software Foundation has stated that that their interpretation is all linked software. They claim that closed source video card drivers for Linux are in violation. They may not have the resources to sue a big corporation over video card drivers, but they do have the resources to "make an example" of a small company and put them out of business.

Consider a possible future situation in hardware. Everyone now has a device at home that can quickly and for very little cost create a Eurorack module from a description file. If you use a GNU licensed integrated circuit or other component in your module, you then have to release the full description file for your module. With that file, anyone can make one (or several) of their own for very little cost. How many Eurorack module manufacturers do you think could survive that situation? Software is in that situation now.

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by luketeaford » Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:03 pm

UltraViolet wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:28 pm
If you use a GNU licensed integrated circuit or other component in your module, you then have to release the full description file for your module. With that file, anyone can make one (or several) of their own for very little cost. How many Eurorack module manufacturers do you think could survive that situation? Software is in that situation now.
This is the entire appeal of the GPLv3: all software that uses it must also be "free" (as in freedom). When I have used the GPL, it is deliberately for this: I am investing my time and ideas into software for the community. I want to make it accessible to people who have the same goal of keeping it accessible. I have occasionally changed the license to be more permissive (MIT) in the case that what I'm making is meant to be a part of some other software that I don't care about its licensing.

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by Slothrop » Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:43 pm

Yeah, Luke is on point here. Code isn't a natural resource that people are fencing off, it's something that they're are putting time, effort and knowledge into creating and maintaining. And if you're the person whose time and effort it is, it's really up to you whether your goal is to try to create something you can make money from directly by licensing it (in which case keep it closed source), to give away something that will benefit everyone (in which case you can use a permissive open source license like Apache or MIT) or to give away something that will specifically help and encourage more open source development (in which case you can use a restrictive open source license like the GPL).

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by UltraViolet » Thu Jan 09, 2020 7:11 pm

Slothrop wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:43 pm
Yeah, Luke is on point here. Code isn't a natural resource that people are fencing off, it's something that they're are putting time, effort and knowledge into creating and maintaining. And if you're the person whose time and effort it is, it's really up to you whether your goal is to try to create something you can make money from directly by licensing it (in which case keep it closed source), to give away something that will benefit everyone (in which case you can use a permissive open source license like Apache or MIT) or to give away something that will specifically help and encourage more open source development (in which case you can use a restrictive open source license like the GPL).
Well said.
Slothrop wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:43 pm
to give away something that will benefit everyone (in which case you can use a permissive open source license like Apache or MIT)
That is my idea of freedom and sharing. The permissive open source licenses allow everyone to benefit and not just a select group. While I know it isn't the common view, the GPL restrictions come across to me personally like discrimination. As a software engineer the restrictions come across as wasteful since there is much GPL licensed code that could become the standard for everyone and never need to be rewritten again (and again, and again). Almost all software today is built on other software. Standard components and libraries are invaluable. However, anyone who takes the time and effort to create code has the right to decide how they want it to be used and their wishes should be respected.

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by widdly » Thu Jan 09, 2020 9:46 pm

UltraViolet wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:14 pm
It is all because those darn talented software engineers just won't work for free.
Loads of people get paid by commercial software companies to develop open source code, myself included.
Even Microsoft pays it's engineers to contributes to open source.

https://www.cnet.com/news/paid-develope ... ux-kernel/

You other comments about visual studio and linux dev tools make me think you do not have a very broad experience in software engineering.

I've been a paid professional in software engineering for the last 20 years and I'd say about half that time has been working on open source software. The idea that companies using or creating open source software cannot compete or survive is demonstrably not true. Companies like Google, Amazon, Oracle, Ericsson etc.etc

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by Slothrop » Fri Jan 10, 2020 6:38 am

UltraViolet wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 7:11 pm
That is my idea of freedom and sharing. The permissive open source licenses allow everyone to benefit and not just a select group.
I can see arguments both ways. If I release some useful library code under an MIT or Apache license, then it'll probably have more immediate benefit in terms of the amount of better software that's written using it. On the other hand, if I GPL it, it could, under some circumstances, have more long-term benefits in that the advantage that open source developers get from using it will lead to more open source code for everyone to build on or learn from in the future.
While I know it isn't the common view, the GPL restrictions come across to me personally like discrimination.
In a literal sense, yes. But I don't think there's anything inherently morally wrong with discriminating who can use your code based on what they're planning to do with it. It's like saying that you're happy for your music to be used freely for charity things but if someone wants to use it for an advert they can damn well talk about licensing.
As a software engineer the restrictions come across as wasteful since there is much GPL licensed code that could become the standard for everyone and never need to be rewritten again (and again, and again).
But then, if you're writing closed source code, that's even more wasteful, since no-one will ever even see it. I write proprietary code for a living, and it is occasionally annoying to see a useful looking library that I can't use because of licensing issues, but it'd seem a bit hypocrtitical for me to whinge about people releasing stuff under the GPL so I can't benefit from it when no third parties at all can benefit from the code that I write...

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Re: Open source being used commercially

Post by 2disbetter » Fri Jan 10, 2020 6:58 am

As a software developer myself, I personally find the moral discussion around open source boring. This is purely from a software perspective, but I imagine the same can be applied to open hardware.

If you are going to be offended or hurt because your altruism was taken advantage of, then don't virtue signal, and leave your source code closed. If history has taught us anything it is that, where a mile is given, 2 and more will be taken.

If your source code is open in anyway, it can and will be used without credit, without legal reference, and without so much as a thank you.

The world is unfair.

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