IT hardware design documents, in addition to the software associated with enabling IT hardware functionality, can be released utilizing an open source software agreement. However, most hardware licenses are fundamentally different due to heavy reliance on patent law rather than copyright law. Consequently, a patent-based license may control the utilization and manufacture of a physical IT device built from design documents; whereas a copyright-based license may control the distribution of source code as well as design documents. If the Tucson Amateur Packet Radio (TAPR) Open Hardware License is selected as the basis for an agreement, particulars regarding the distinction between hardware and software licensing characteristics are addressed in the preamble to ensure an understanding of contractual intent.
“View Part I of the Open Source Hardware and Software Licensing series here“