Myriam Ayass, legal adviser of the Knowledge and Technology Transfer
Group at CERN and author of the CERN OHL:
In the spirit of knowledge sharing and dissemination, the CERN Open
Hardware Licence (CERN OHL) governs the use, copying, modification and
distribution of hardware design documentation, and the manufacture and
distribution of products.
The CERN–OHL is to hardware what the General Public Licence (GPL) is
to software. It defines the conditions under which a licensee will be
able to use or modify the licensed material. The concept of ‘open-source
hardware’ or ‘open hardware’ is not yet as well known or widespread as
the free software or open-source software concept. However, it shares
the same principles: **anyone should be able to see the source (the
design documentation in case of hardware), study it, modify it and share
In addition, if modifications are made and distributed, it must be
under the same licence conditions – this is the ‘persistent’ nature of
the licence, which ensures that the whole community will continue
benefiting from improvements, in the sense that everyone will in turn be
able to make modifications to these improvements.
The CERN Open Hardware Licence was originally written for CERN designs
hosted in the Open Hardware Repository. It can also be used by any
designer wishing to share design information using a licence compliant
with the OSHW definition criteria. If
you would like to contribute to make it better, please subscribe to the
submit any issue you may have.