Is it "open source" if I don't release the source code ?

I am working on an accessory for the ZX81 to give it VGA, Sound, and Wii Classic Controller features using a Propeller.
I plan to release everything so others can make one if they want to. Well, not quite "everything". I don't really want to release the source code (PropBASIC), but I will provide the binary to program the Propeller.

Could I still call it "Open source" ? I mean I will release the gerbers, parts list, assembly instructions, Propeller binary, etc.

I don't want to call it "Open source" if it doesn't really meet the definition.

Bean

Comments

  • No. Definition of open source is that you release the source code to the public for free. There can be limitations on what people do with that source code, but if the source is not available to the public, it is not open source in any way, shape, or form.
  • I'm pretty sure "open source" means what it says: the source code is available for all to see. Any particular reason for keeping the source closed?

    -Phil
  • I am not a lawyer.

    Based on what you have listed I would argue that even the hardware isn't open source since you aren't releasing the design files (being able to modify something for your own use is a key element of open source). I'm not sure what the proper term is for what you are describing but there are plenty of projects out there that follow the same model. If you do go the route of making it open source, you want to pick a license, not just say it is open source.

    Some relevant reading:
    Why do people care so much about the legal side of open source?
    Are public GutHub projects open source?
    Licensing a repository
    Can I call my program "Open Source" even if I don't use an approved license?
    Does your open hardware project need a license?
    Best Practices for Open-Source Hardware 1.0
    Open Source Quick Reference Guide
  • So....What would I call it ?
    "Public Domain" ?
    I want people to be able to make it, but not make other things from it.

    Bean
  • Isn't this called Freeware? You still have the source and copyright and you also control the way it may be used.
  • Freeware sounds right to me.
  • David BetzDavid Betz Posts: 14,018
    edited 2019-09-10 - 01:53:11
    Bean wrote: »
    I am working on an accessory for the ZX81 to give it VGA, Sound, and Wii Classic Controller features using a Propeller.
    I plan to release everything so others can make one if they want to. Well, not quite "everything". I don't really want to release the source code (PropBASIC), but I will provide the binary to program the Propeller.

    Could I still call it "Open source" ? I mean I will release the gerbers, parts list, assembly instructions, Propeller binary, etc.

    I don't want to call it "Open source" if it doesn't really meet the definition.

    Bean
    You could just call it open hardware. However, why not release the source code as well? It seems to me that anyone who wanted to steal the code could just use a reverse assembler. PropBASIC is pretty close to assembler anyway as I understand it. Releasing the source code might even stir up interest in PropBASIC.

    A link to an open hardware repository:

    https://ohwr.org/welcome
  • Peter JakackiPeter Jakacki Posts: 9,211
    edited 2019-09-10 - 12:32:31
    Correction, I thought this was only software so the binary would be Freeware and the hardware would be Open Source Hardware as Dave mentioned. Anyone who has the skills or determination can of course reverse engineer the binary.
  • Mickster wrote: »

    Very interesting read, thank you.
  • Mickster wrote: »

    It seems to me that the author has somewhat of a misunderstanding of copyright and what open source licenses do. They inherently hold the copyright for the software they wrote. The license just says what others are allowed to do with it.

    It seems to me that the company that "took my name off my software and assigned the copyright to themselves" violated the terms of the license (at least GPL-3.0, earlier versions may not be the same) and I would guess that this would constitute a copyright violation as well. The use of the product name seems like a trademark issue.
  • Copyright violation or patent infringement....what're you gonna do?

    All you have achieved is the right to take legal action and then it comes down to who has the deepest pockets.
  • David BetzDavid Betz Posts: 14,018
    edited 2019-09-10 - 18:09:25
    Mickster wrote: »
    Copyright violation or patent infringement....what're you gonna do?

    All you have achieved is the right to take legal action and then it comes down to who has the deepest pockets.
    I'm pretty sure that's all you ever have unless you keep the source closed and lock the binary into the internal flash on an MCU.
  • IMHO Geoff has done the best he can do by only giving out the source under signed NDA. I saw the whole thing unravel a number of years back.

    Geoff took the best action... He doubled down and produced the next version with so many additional features that the culprit(s) were out on a limb because they had no idea how to match the extras. And the media helped expose the culprit(s). This was a cheaper action than legal, and he has a superior product to boot.

    Anyone who then takes that source (signed under NDA) and does what happened is now wide open to legal action as they've signed up. It's a much simpler legal action, but still legal action. And of course, the media can be used as a cheap weapon to turn the crowd against the offender more easily.
  • He also mentions wondering how the bright guy behind Linux managed the minefield that his kernel created. Very simple. he followed the steps set down by two porcupines, very carefully.

    The source code is available under a reasonably easy to understand license. It's only failing is that it has a classic "You break it, you keep the pieces, its yours.". policy in it.

    As is there are a generous amount of distributions running, some are outright clones of one specific, others are related. And a few are just there.

    IMHO, Bean simply follow your own best judgement.
    ---
    Mascot left a note, "Cats need trees the way the programmers need coffee and Coca-Cola machines.".
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