Don’t be a ……….

By February 21, 2020 February 25th, 2020 SFX-100, Sim Rig

Understanding the open source license that governs the SFX-100 actuators – what it allows you to do, and what it restricts you from doing.

This is from my own (@steely’s) personal perspective and not officially from the core team. Well, you can bet they feel the same way however….

A runaway success

The SFX-100 actuators + SimFeedback control software has been a phenomenal addition to the sim racing community. This combination has brought high performance motion to the masses, changing the game and price points. There’s hundreds of happy sim racers around the world as a result.

Some bad apples

Every day on my way to work, there’s a bunch of people who take a shortcut on a sidestreet to jump the queue of traffic, and get straight back in the queue again about 600m ahead. They know it, those in the queue know it, and there’s unspoken “mate, you’re being an absolute dick” acknowledgement when you have to give way as they rejoin the queue.

In a sense this post is a little about that. I’m sure the people who are “providing a service” aren’t completely naive, that they know they’re doing the wrong thing, but I thought I would make this post to spell it out as I get frustrated.

License & Intent

The SFX-100+Simfeedback system has 3 very clear licensed components. Simfeedback and the plugin system are out of the scope of this discussion- Simfeedback is not open source; that’s created & maintained privately and separately by @Saxxon66.

The actuators however, different story. This is their license – I’ve bolded the key items for this blog post.

License Icon

Full License Terms: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/legalcode

You are free to:

  • Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material. The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.

Under the following terms:

  • Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
  • NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
  • ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.
  • No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.

Invented by @Saxxon66 and tested/documented/promoted by the core team (@vsp, @j.r., @martin, @steely ). We have not received one $ for those actuators. Speaking personally I’ve invested a lot of time to build the documentation up which in turn helped a lot of people build actuators.

This is all within the DIY spirit and scope of the license agreement for them. We’ve all got our day jobs, we all contribute more or less at various times to grow the community and help others out. The intent of being DIY/Open source is to allow others to do the same and provide an alternative to costly $ commercial systems.

What’s getting our (my) goat

What inevitably has happened is people have said “right, I can print and sell them for a fee” This has been overt, or wink wink nudge nudge. It’s come in the form of facebook posts, forum posts, comments, website entries. Some I’ve caught and commented on / emailed the parties, others have flown under the radar.

Some are getting pocket money ontop of filament costs, some are paying back their printers, and others no doubt have potentially made tidy wee sums. For reference, we have seen multiple individuals attempt to sell (and no doubt sold lots of) sets of parts for around $300-$400 USD/EUR. The filament cost is about $60USD. That means they are pocketing $240USD per set.

Effectively what they are saying is they deserve the $’s, off the coat tails of the core team and have chosen to ignore copyright law and the license terms that they implicitly accepted when downloading the files – you cannot download the files without seeing these terms, and we have actually pointed out to at least one person who repeatedly, ‘covertly’ offers parts.

When core team members have offered design, documentation and help on the grounds that no-one commercialises it, yet people knowingly doing wrong still do – you can see where we might start getting a little annoyed.

This is where open source fails, core team members get disgruntled. “Once bitten twice shy”. The software industry has been around this for decades and gotten it sorted out. The sim racing industry is arguably only a few years into the concept.

What you can & can’t do in practical terms

As the open source license concept may not be immediately recognisable to people not in the software industry, let’s be 100% clear about this :

  • If you sell whole finished actuators that’s not allowed
  • If you offer “build services” that’s not allowed
  • If you print and sell for a fee that’s not allowed
  • If you modify, design and sell for a fee that’s not allowed <– really important to understand, the license is a “share-alike”, meaning if you modify the works, regardless of which way, you need to share all files accordingly, attribute the SFX-100 project, and can’t commercialise it.
  • If you use in a commercial establishment, that’s not allowed

The pattern here is any commercial activity around the actuators of you earning $ using the designs, is not allowed.

Where the core team has said ‘yeah okay’ that’s reasonable is the following instances :

  • If you send to a 3d printing service – as you’re using a natural service, and the service isn’t out promoting the SFX-100 parts directly (doing the numbers however you’d be better off buying your own printer!)
  • (OR) if a friend prints for you

Why post now?

I am facing this as I am designing a component and deciding how the heck I would release it, if at all, and what would make me happy. I can say fundamentally I sure would be pi**ed off for all the $$$$ I’ve put into it to find someone start making $’s on and not give anything back.

So this is a factor in my decision making process.. if I got my G-Seat to a good enough space that it was releasable open source, would I do it? I probably would.. but if I found out people were copying/selling components – they would definitely hear about it.

It takes 2..

And remember, it takes 2 people to make a transaction. So in order for their to be a seller, there needs to be a buyer.

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