Sharing Without Licensing

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The problem is…

By default, the author publishing something on the Internet has exclusive copyright. Sharing without licensing can therefore make copying/using that work illegal, even though the author might have had the intention to allow others to reuse his/her work.

The proposed solution might apply when…

There is a culture of informal sharing in Makerspaces/FabLabs. So when someone publishes a work on a blog, they don’t necessarily add a licence.

The solution proposed is…

Increase knowledge of licensing: makerspaces should adopt a policy of informing their users about licensing options / recommend particular licenses for particular types of works / recommend using established platforms like Thingiverse or Instructables that enforce the use of one of the predefined licences. A concrete licensing policy for a makerspace could be:

  • If contributing to an existing work, make sure your contribution attributes the original authors and uses the same licence (especially if it is a copyleft)
  • For new works we recommend the following:

The expected outcome is…

No more illegal sharing; empowerment wrt licensing rights; possibility to build a business with an open business model based on shared work

Other information


DiDIY oriented spaces have the intention to share knowledge; while exclusive copyright would by default forbid sharing, a free licensing policy assures legal sharing and the possibility to build a thriving ecosystem. Such policy allows people to generate income based on the shared knowledge.

Significant influencing factors

Lack of knowledge of licensing and legal aspects of copyright in general. In addition, there might be wrong understanding of copyright, e.g. if I don’t add a copyright notice, I assume everyone can freely use it (which is not true).


The IRNAS institute uses such policy for their open source hardware projects like the GoodEnoughCNC:

Related Patterns

Use Design Sharing Platforms, Legal Knowledge Sharing, All Rights Reserved

Links to further resources

Read the Legal Report from the DiDIY project ;-)

Authors and Credits

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