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 it.
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.