Tindie is the largest marketplace online for open hardware. Thousands of our inventions are open source. The schematics and source code are available for anyone to study, remix, or even clone. When someone does remix or clone a project, two problems can arise – honoring the original project’s licenses and attribution. This week we had a case of an open hardware product being remixed and sold on Tindie without honoring the original licenses. Because this case got a good amount of attention, I wanted to explain our policies and make it very clear that we support original open hardware inventors & will always enforce the original licenses.
The original, open hardware project in this case was PopPet, a “DIY, Arduino Compatible, Open Hardware, Robot Kit.” On December 1, 3 emails came to our Support Team about a product on Tindie that was a clone of PopPet. The clone did not recognize the original project or honor the existing licenses. Once we saw this, we reached out to the seller for clarification. The email I sent back to the tickets on this case -
“Thanks for the email! We are currently in communication with the seller and working through it now. We definitely want to make sure any open projects respect the original license and give credit where credit is due. If that isn’t something the seller isn’t willing to do, then we will pull the product. Personally, I’m on the Board of the Open Hardware Association. I totally understand your frustration regarding this situation.
Thanks again for bringing this to our attention!
Without any reply from the seller, we took the listing down. The seller did eventually reply, but no changes were made to the listing which is why it remains down. To make our stance absolutely clear -
We will enforce open hardware licenses and
remove products that violate original licenses.
Clones will always exist with open hardware – and we aren’t opposed to them for a variety of reasons. However if you want to clone or remix an open hardware project, follow the licenses set forth by the original project.
This wasn’t the first case of a clone not following the original creator’s licenses, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. However we believe in open hardware and believe it can bring tremendous good to the world. Even though we are a 3 person startup, next year we will send millions of dollars to open hardware inventors. When you shop on Tindie, know you are supporting original creators and a healthy open hardware ecosystem.
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