Visit the forum instructions to learn how to post to the forum, enable email notifications, subscribe to a category to receive emails when there are new discussions (like a mailing list), bookmark discussions and to see other tips to get the most out of our forum!
Marcin: Comment on the Coercive Nature of the OSE Open IP Clause

  • Marcin wrote:

    As founder of OSE, I am committed to voluntary interaction as the basis of the social contract. This means that I don't believe in coercion of any type. Yet, I am choosing the Creative Commons Share Alike License - which in blunt terms - forces (coerces) any user to share derivative work - whether they want to or not - if they use OSE's intellectual property. I believe that while it is not good that someone should not share their work, I believe that it is even worse to coerce - by taking away one's choice regarding sharing or not sharing.

    I was against such coercion prior to certain recent events. I was recently disappointed to find out that a certain trusted collaborator was unwilling to engage in development on a particular project with us because a part of the design was copyrighted as proprietary. This made me rethink what happens to our work in the future - if someone copyrights/patents a certain improvement. I was not concerned much about such an issue - because:

    • My experience shows me that there are many ways that patents can be sidestepped by human ingenuity - and patents would not effect the core direction of our work.
    • Patents are moot when one is producing for themselves - which is going to be the increasing case as consumer society increases its skills and transitions to community-based solutions of relocalized production
    • There is a sufficiency criterion that is essential in our work. If we have the highest performance machine, do we need even higher performance, if it comes at a cost? For example, we have developed a brick press that was demonstrated to produce a max of 16 bricks per minute. Do we really need a machine that produces 17 bricks per minute if we use even more power and finetune the speed even further? It's a moot point to do so, since there are systems considerations which indicate that 16 bricks is not only enough, but excessive in all but rare situations. -MJ 5/5/12

    Thus, I am still not concerned personally that copyrights/patents will ever stand in our way - but the same IS a concern for some of our collaborators. Therefore, to ensure involvement of such valuable contributors, I am choosing the Share Alike license. This is relevant in a case where someone copyrights/patents an improvement on our work, and we lose contributors who are intimidated from further participation because of potential legal consequences.

  • 8 Comments sorted by
  • ChuckH wrote:

    I think our Open source car collaborator Wikispeed is struggling with how open they want to be: Wikispeed asks its collaborators to sign a non-compete agreement and be subject to non-disclosure rules. This could become awkward if OSE share-alike contributions get incorporated in that project. I hope this doesn't interfere with our cooperation because there is huge value in Wikispeed's experience. ChuckH 06:29, 8 May 2012 (CEST)
  • are they selling the cars? how are the revenue split up? do the designers get a portion? I could see how that would complicate things.

    grabcad is nice because designers know the potential up front
  • Thank you, elifarley and Marcin, for the clarification.  I've had a big concern for our shared ideas surviving the cathedral mentality of the world.  
  • LOL, you know how if someone says, "No offense, but..." they are going to offend you? It sounds the same when someone says, "I am committed, but..." haha, it's always fun to watch someone's principles clash with practicality.

    I'm curious what was copyrighted. Seems like it had to be the software in the Wikispeedlet, but I could be wrong. At any rate, I never interpreted share-alike licenses as being any more coercive than the non-aggression principle. In both cases you're expecting someone else to obey a rule whether they want to or not. 

    Open source licenses were developed specifically to preserve the POINT of doing open source work. 
  • Wrote ChuckH:
    > Wikispeed asks its collaborators to sign a non-compete agreement and be subject to non-disclosure rules.

    When I was attempting to collaborate, I wasn't asked, I was told. The agreement may be voluntary for some folks, but for me it was mandatory and quite specific. It could be that I got a special non-comp agreement because I too design open source hardware (cars included) or it may be that everybody is required to sign the same agreement before they're allowed to do volunteer work for Wikispeed, In my case, signing the agreement would mean giving up the right to contribute to anyone else's open source car project (including my own) so I had to decline.

    I doubt I'm who Marcin refers to (there's no reason to think my collaboration has even crossed his mind in recent months) but it's true enough that I'm unwilling to engage in further development of the Wikispeed/OSE open source automobile. It has nothing to do with copyright, it has to do with our different interpretations of "open source".

    I favor the
    Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license (see  ) and I don't consider it coercive. It's conditional, not coercive. If I let you use my bicycle for free, but conditional on you letting other people use it for free too, you're not being coerced to loan my bicycle to other people--it's merely a condition you must meet if you want to borrow my bicycle. If you don't want to pass it along, you can say "no" and you can walk or ride a bus or even build your own bicycle. I don't think Joe Justice's non-compete non-disclosure agreement is coercive; I had a right to say "no" (which I exercised) and my only penalty is I'm not allowed on the car development team.
    Requiring volunteers to sign a non-compete and non-disclosure agreement is odd (particularly for an alleged open source project) but it's not coercive, and Marcin and Joe have every right to set their own conditions for involvement. "You have to sign this agreement AND you're going to collaborate" is coercive. "You have to sign this agreement IF you're going to collaborate" is not.
  • Wikispeed only adopted the "open source" approach AFTER I introduced Marcin and Joe. Even now that Wikispeed is publicly asserting that its work is open source, the documentation required for open source clashes with their long-standing policy on avoiding the need for documentation whenever possible. It's part of their agile/lean/scrum management structure. I'm still a member of both groups, and as far as I can see the page I built on OSE's wiki and the video-blogging on Wikispeed's youtube channel are the only sources of documentation. 

    My assumption is that Wikispeed is relying on OSE to open source the car. I also assume that OSE will suddenly get a lot more interested in documenting the car as the next TED thing approaches. It's really the only culturally exciting piece of technology OSE has on the horizon, so Marcin will want to brag on it. 

    All that being said, I don't see anything wrong with the slow documentation. It would actually be kind of irresponsible to publish enough to copy the car right now seeing as how it isn't officially crash worthy or road legal. Better to get the alpha and beta stuff done so that we know there's something worth documenting. When a prototype circuit board malfunctions it just smokes a little. When a prototype car malfunctions people get hurt...sometimes not the people who built the car. Better to take it a little slow and find all the major problems. I think Jack can back me up on that :-)

    Also, I signed the same agreement Jack was offered. It's what Joe sends to everyone who asks to join the team. 
  • Good points, Matt, and I certainly can back you up on that.

    > Better to get the alpha and beta stuff done so that we know there's something worth documenting.

    Right you are. Open source doesn't mean you have to release the source material before you think it's ready. My own 100 mpg car (google > MAX car < or search Mother Earth News) was designed from the beginning to be open source, but I didn't even put it out for beta testing until I had 20,000 miles on the prototype, and I don't intend full release until the first beta builders have their cars on the road. OSE apparently concurs; OSE compressed a lot of bricks before saying the CEB Press information was ready to roll, but during development, the collaborators need to know what's going on. If the price of collaborating is signing a non-compete/non-disclosure agreement, then so be it.

    Also, I signed the same agreement Jack was offered. It's what Joe sends to everyone who asks to join the team.

    If I'd been in Matt's shoes, I'd have signed it too. I'd like to contribute to the success of the OSE car, and in the terms of Marcin's and Joe's agreement, that means contributing to the success of the Wikispeed car. But Matt and I wear different shoes, and the differences make it inappropriate for me to sign, and in my opinion, inappropriate for anyone to say I'm not a team player 'cause I won't sign. The significant difference are:

    1) I'm a Wikispeed competitor and Matt is not, and the agreement has special restrictions for competitors.
    2) Joe asked me to collaborate on a specific component (rollover structure) using my existing skills and tools before making me aware of the non-comp/non-disclose agreement.
    3) Matt signed his copy of the Wikispeed non-comp/non-disclose agreement back when secrecy was Wikispeed's stock-in-trade. My copy came later, after Marcin and Joe's Wikispeed/OSE collaboration announcement ("Joe Justice commits to share all that he knows on cars with Open Source Ecology.").

    I didn't ask to be a Wikispeed competitor, and I wasn't a direct competitor until a few months ago, when Wikispeed declared itself Open Source. I've been providing parts and information for open source cars for the last five years and I'm not prepared to stop. Much as I love OSE, I'm not willing to give Wikispeed exclusive use of all the techniques we have in common ("...I agree I won’t use technology and process used by WIKISPEED Inc. to directly compete against WIKISPEED Inc") and I'm not willing to allow Wikispeed to muzzle me by declaring my work is a trade secret ("I will not redistribute...any information that WIKISPEED Inc. has made known to me is a trade secret") in exchange for the honor of working with OSE, Wikispeed, and Joe Justice. I would indeed consider collaborating on the OSE car to be an honor, but this agreement would put me out of business as an automotive designer, as an automotive writer, and as an open source developer in any field Wikispeed chooses to enter in the future.

    Now that Wikispeed is open source, perhaps the more rapacious clauses in their Volunteer Agreement could be toned down. If so, the OSE Car project might draw more volunteer help from industry professionals.
  • Sorry I'm new here. What is wikispeed and how doe it connect with agile methodology?

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Login with Facebook Sign In with Google Sign In with OpenID Sign In with Twitter

In this Discussion