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IndustryArena Forum > OpenSource CNC Design Center > Open Source Controller Boards > Using smoothie based controller card in a commercial project
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  1. #1
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    Using smoothie based controller card in a commercial project

    hi,

    [I posted this question in smoothiware forum and got no replies, so thought of posting here.]
    I understand that Smoothie is GPLV3, which requires any derivative work to be open sourced. How do you define derivative work in this context? For example, I see some hardware controller vendors who sell smoothie supported controller cards with smoothie pre-flashed. Does this qualify as derivative work? If so how do they distribute their product (hardware card) without open sourcing the hardware?
    My main requirement is actually to use smoothie supported card such as SmoothieBoard, Cohesion3D Remix or Azteeg in a commercial machine. When I sell the machine, the controller card has to be loaded with smoothie firmware. There will also be a closed source commercial software that run on user's PC which will interface with this controller card. Can I do this under this license?

    Thanks
    S

  2. #2
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    Re: Using smoothie based controller card in a commercial project

    I am not a lawyer, so take this with a grain of salt but I don't see a legal issue with what you have described. In this context, derivative work would be modifying the smoothieware code or putting a non-trivial part of the smoothieware code into some other software. The software that runs on the PC that communicates with smoothieware would not be considered a derivative work of smoothieware unless you took some code from smoothieware to use in the PC software. If you are selling boards with unmodified smoothieware pre-flashed, then you need to provide users a link back to the smoothieware repo and provide users instructions on how to flash custom firmware if they ask.

    See this page for an overview on GPLv3: https://www.gnu.org/licenses/quick-guide-gplv3.en.html

    GPLv3 software does not require the hardware which runs it to be open source, but it does require the user be able to update the GPLv3 software running on the hardware. This is referred to as the anti-Tivoization clause and is one of the main reasons for v3 of the GPL.

  3. #3
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    Re: Using smoothie based controller card in a commercial project

    Quote Originally Posted by seanano View Post
    I am not a lawyer, so take this with a grain of salt but I don't see a legal issue with what you have described. In this context, derivative work would be modifying the smoothieware code or putting a non-trivial part of the smoothieware code into some other software. The software that runs on the PC that communicates with smoothieware would not be considered a derivative work of smoothieware unless you took some code from smoothieware to use in the PC software. If you are selling boards with unmodified smoothieware pre-flashed, then you need to provide users a link back to the smoothieware repo and provide users instructions on how to flash custom firmware if they ask.

    See this page for an overview on GPLv3: https://www.gnu.org/licenses/quick-guide-gplv3.en.html

    GPLv3 software does not require the hardware which runs it to be open source, but it does require the user be able to update the GPLv3 software running on the hardware. This is referred to as the anti-Tivoization clause and is one of the main reasons for v3 of the GPL.
    This sounds better than I expected, I also contacted a hardware vendor who produce controller cards that run smoothiware and their opinion was similar.
    I hope the machine that I build (which uses a controller card which in turn use smoothieware) is not considered derivative work?

  4. #4
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    Re: Using smoothie based controller card in a commercial project

    Quote Originally Posted by suspension View Post
    I hope the machine that I build (which uses a controller card which in turn use smoothieware) is not considered derivative work?
    I would think not since derivative work in the GPL context is a copyright legal term. From a copyright sense, you would be distributing an unmodified version of smoothieware embodied in a physical product (See section 6 of the GPLv3). The physical product (your machine) is itself not a derivative work of smoothieware.

    If you are concerned about this and planning to do this as a business, an hour consultation with a lawyer specializing in software copyright law would likely put your mind to ease (and lighten your wallet).

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