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Re: physical circuits

On Fri, 26 Nov 1999, Graham Seaman wrote:

> > 
> > 	I don't want to forward this reply to RMS but I still fail to see
> > what he means by physical circuit. Schematics are Copywritable and so are
> > PCB layouts (i'm pretty sure this is the case) so whats his point?
> > 
> > 	Adam
> > 
> As I understand it (and I could well be wrong) the problem is with the
> PCB itself. The layout is copyrightable as a drawing, or something that
> can be displayed on a screen. Once you've actually made a board, somebody
> can copy the board itself because copyright doesn't apply to that: to 
> trying to leave some rights to non-copyright holders, lawmakers have
> decided that everyone has the right to reverse-engineer designs.
> For a multi-layer board, reverse engineering must be a pain (not something
> I've ever tried). BUT if you are distributing the complete design including
> gerbers anyone can bypass your license by making their own board from
> the gerbers then claiming to have reverse-engineered it.

	Hmmm, that may be an issue. But I'm not it doesn't seem to come
out that way from RMS
> I THINK thats the point, though I'm not sure. If it is, then what rms
> is saying is not completely general: for IC layouts, the Semiconductor
> IC Protection Act, which is internationally accepted quite explicitly
> says that the mask (which falls under 'mask rights', similar to
> copyright) can either be in the form of a drawing or a physical mask
> on a chip. Even then it weakens this by saying: you can reverse
> engineer from the chip for educational/learning purposes; and you may
> manufacture the chip HOWEVER you learnt about its structure.

> I'm coming to the conclusion that trying to come up with a license for
> 'designs' is a red herring. We need separate licenses for:
> Specs (eg ISA for a processor, drawings of FSMs etc) [but can only
> copyright the document, not its contents as an idea]
> Schematics
> Simulations [use the gpl straight with no problems]
> Synthesizable designs for FPGAs
> ICs
> PCBs
> etc.
> If people created separate licences for the bits they have most expertise in
> then if they had common features maybe they could be merged later. Or you
> just have an overall license that says: 'all specs contained herein are
> covered by license X. All schematics are covered by license Y. etc'
> What do you think?

	Its an idea. I'm very much for that lets get the ball rolling and
clear up the licence details and merge them later when we have the
manpower (read laywerpower). Publicity is what we need now, though I still
think getting the groups together and trying to share a common (even if
legally void) licence and goals.

	Cheers Adam