Can anyone recommend a /fair/ and /balanced/ review of the current concerns with Thingiverse

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(James Newton) #1

Can anyone recommend a /fair/ and /balanced/ review of the current concerns with Thingiverse from an open source point of view? Specifically, I want to explain, without hype or venom, why people should support alternatives to the site. So far, I’ve found this:
http://hackaday.com/2012/09/20/makerbot-occupy-thingiverse-and-the-reality-of-selling-open-hardware/
Which is more questioning than definitive.
http://hackaday.com/2012/09/20/makerbot-occupy-thingiverse-and-the-reality-of-selling-open-hardware

(Andrew Hodel) #2

Just read section 3.2 on http://www.thingiverse.com/legal

3.2 License. You hereby grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to Company and its affiliates and partners, an irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free and fully paid, worldwide license to reproduce, distribute, publicly display and perform, prepare derivative works of, incorporate into other works, and otherwise use your User Content, and to grant sublicenses of the foregoing, solely for the purposes of including your User Content in the Site and Services. You agree to irrevocably waive (and cause to be waived) any claims and assertions of moral rights or attribution with respect to your User Content.

So when you put something on the site, they can immediately mass produce and sell it without regard to you in the present or in the future.

How is that unclear?

Take Github for example, if they had something like this in their Terms of Use you wouldn’t see any projects on there. When you post something to Thingiverse whatever license you wanted to license your content under becomes irrelevant.

Say you wanted to GPL your design, so that anyone can sell, distribute, use etc… with the main limitation being that any improvements they make they will have to re-publish under the same license… that’s incompatible with Makerbot.

They null and void any license as soon as you upload something.

Say you wanted to license a design for anyone to use in a non commercial manner, but you wanted to disallow them to comercially produce and sell your design… you give that up when you post to Thingiverse.

A lot of people have no idea about licenses or what they are doing, but when you create something regardless of if you attach a license to it or not it is yours to do what you want with it and no one can sell it without your permission. Makerbot’s Terms of Use on Thingiverse force you to immediately give them permission to do anything they want with it, including sell it for profit and reward you nothing.

It’s a giant fishing expedition.

(bob cousins) #3

A balanced opinion is probably hard to find, since everyone who cares to voice an opinion has a vested interest one way or the other. The neutral opinion is apathy “I don’t care as long as no one sues me”.

From an Open Source POV there is not much to say. Makerbot products are not OS, so they are no different to Apple, Sony, etc in that respect. Thingiverse hosts things under various licenses, so no different to github etc. Thingiverse TOS gives them plentiful rights to monetize user content, so that’s no different to Facebook, Google etc. Makerbot appear to be scraping public sources for patent applications, but that is no different to many other companies.

The complaints about Makerbot get framed as “Open Source vs proprietary”, but really it is not that. The real issues are about a lack of honesty, transparency and trust. IOW poor corporate ethics, which is what is really bugging people. In particular, IMO, pretending to be an Open Source company while selling proprietary products is unethical. It’s not illegal, so companies usually get away with it with sufficient PR.

Of course, it’s up to the individual to judge what they find ethical, and whether or not to boycott a company. Most take a pragmatic approach, if the product works and is cheap they buy/use it.

(Andrew Hodel) #4

@bob_cousins in response to “Thingiverse hosts things under various licenses, so no different to github etc.”

However they do not apply your license to themselves.

(Kai Laborenz) #5

@Andrew_Hodel Can you explain what “…solely for the purposes of including your User Content in the Site and Services” means?

(bob cousins) #6

@Andrew_Hodel
I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that you only assign the rights they need to provide the “Site and Services”, “Services” is not well defined, it could in future include a tie up with a manufacturer like Shapeways.

From an Open Source POV, this does not matter, because Open Source designs can be made and sold by anyone anyway. It’s would only be a problem for people who post non Open Source designs to Thingiverse, which was not the concern of the OP.

I think the worry about precise nuance of the Thingiverse TOS is a bit overdone, I withdrew my designs from Thingiverse for everything else Makerbot have been up to.

(Andrew Hodel) #7

@Kai_Laborenz “Services” could be anything, Manufacturing could certainly become a service.

Let’s not forget the end of the Agreement, “You’ve heard this already: we can change these Terms at any time. Check back here from time to time. If we make any big changes, we’ll give you notice. Keep your contact information updated, please.”

(James Newton) #8

@bob_cousins I think you raised an important point: “I withdrew my designs from Thingiverse for everything else Makerbot have been up to.” What exactly did they do that made you want to retaliate?

(Andrew Hodel) #9

@bob_cousins Open Source is quite broad, look at the v2/3 GPL debacle around the Kernel - http://www.gossamer-threads.com/lists/engine?do=post_view_flat;post=610618;page=1;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;mh=25;list=linux

Take into consideration the differences between the MIT license and the GPL. Also consider that Open Source could mean allowed to use in a non-commercial manner - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-licensing - http://oss-watch.ac.uk/resources/duallicence2

Then there are the many intricies of the different OSI approved licenses, if they meant enough for organizations to pay entire legal teams to draw them up then the differences are substantial - http://opensource.org/licenses/

(Andrew Hodel) #10

A Thingiverse “Service” could be licensing designs to other entities.

(James Newton) #11

As @Andrew_Hodel says, “Open Source could mean allowed to use in a non-commercial manner” That is how I have always seen it. My major concern with Thingiverse is that they would attempt to change the license in such a way as to prevent anyone other than themselves (or me) from making my designs.

(bob cousins) #12

@Andrew_Hodel
I don’t think that is much different from many other sites. If you don’t like the Thingiverse TOS, then you wouldn’t use Google services either.

I wouldn’t use Thingiverse because of the policies of Makerbot and their parent company, but taking Thingiverse as a standalone site, and from a purely Open Source POV, I don’t think there is a great risk using Thingiverse to host Open Source designs.

Ironically, given the recent patent controversy, publishing designs right on the Thingiverse website is maybe a good place to put it, if you want to prevent it being patented. Makerbot can’t reasonably they didn’t bother looking on their own website for prior art.

(bob cousins) #13

@Andrew_Hodel No, I don’t think so. Not by any reasonable legal interpretation.

(Andrew Hodel) #14

@bob_cousins I just view posting a picture that I spent 2 seconds to snap on G+ or FB a bit differently than a design I spent weeks on.

Either way, it’s all just opportunity for pressure from every team so protect yourself as you will.

(bob cousins) #15

@Andrew_Hodel
No I am sorry you have the wrong impression. You are confusing debates of copyleft vs permissive licensing. All Open Source licenses are in firm agreement on one issue, non-commercial restrictions are not permitted.

Dual licensing cannot enforce non-commercial use - because then it is not Open Source! A licensor can offer a second license under more favourable terms than GPL, but a licensee can always choose to use the GPL license in a commercial environment even in a dual license model.

If Thingiverse decide to use your Open Source design for commercial purposes, that is absolutely not a problem.

(bob cousins) #16

@Andrew_Hodel If you are posting Open Source content, it doesn’t matter whether it took 2 seconds or 2 weeks to create.

If you expect to be paid for your work, that is a different consideration.

(Andrew Hodel) #17

@bob_cousins you or I both can license a design and completely restrict commercial use, then offer a dual license which does… you might not call it Open Source but others will.

(Andrew Hodel) #18

And there’s always the AGPL with regards to Copyleft, which I personally agree with… share the entire source code if you use this.

Which, if we are talking about parts or components of bigger products becomes extremely important in a commercial sense as end users want a polished product.

(bob cousins) #19

@James_Newton
This seems to be a common misconception. In fact the opposite is true, Open Source has always allowed commercial use. Perhaps this explains people’s hostility to Open Source once they find it allows commercial use.

Anyway, I don’t see anything in the Thingiverse TOS that removes rights from the original author; they are not claiming exclusive distribution rights for example.

If it is true that Makerbot is patenting elements from designs posted on Thingiverse, I don’t see anything in the TOS that claims patent rights, it talks about Copyright only. Makerbot could equally try to patent designs from other sources, e.g. YouMagine or blogs, so there appears no extra risk posting to Thingiverse.

The Makerbot origins in RepRap and subsequent abandonment of Open Source, sell out to Stratasys and patent grabbing are rather long and complicated to explain. Maybe someone could put a timeline together.

(Andrew Hodel) #20

@bob_cousins I think you are leaving out a fundamental part with the Thingiverse TOS.

When I license something GPL for example, I’m expecting that it will remain open source and that the source will continue to be shared even after it has been improved regardless of who uses it.

The trouble with this TOS is that Makerbot grants themselves immunity to that provision, they don’t have to follow the terms of your license agreement after you agree to their TOS. That is a big problem.