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Extensions, Clones, Modified clones where are the lines?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY  
Author Extensions, Clones, Modified clones where are the lines?
My question is how does building on someone else's work, from super partial (built a lot, but used a little part), to a little extension. for personal or commercial use. What is okay, and what is not OK ? How does this work, is a mention is enough, permission or not allowed?

I see modules based on someone else's circuits.

This extends to open-source software/modules, but open source software usually has a well defined license.

If anyone has experience, approaches, guidelines that would be really helpful.

That will just help me think about different approaches and such!
I guess my guideline would be that, without any other indication, I’d assume any circuit available on the Internet is fine to build for personal use but not okay to use commercially. There’s still a fuzziness though, as some circuits are extremely simple (op-amp utilities) and others have been iterated in a dozen different forms (3340 oscillators), so if you want to do your own take, you’ll almost certainly be duplicating a previously conceived circuit...
If the circuit is very basic, you can mention the designer on the pcb or documentation. (if you make your design available for more people. )

read the opensource file. there are a lot of variations!

If you are unsure, track down the original designer and ask for permission.
I think it would be very hard to answer this kind of question in a concise way and be general about applying to everything. I think you're going to want to proceed in a case by case way. Very different sets of rules exist for projects in synth DIY - what applies for electronotes type stuff doesn't apply at all for mutable clone type stuff.
I may have mentioned this before somewhere here but I can tell you what PM Foundations and I did. Last year I bought a very sad Oberheim 4-voice, which is still somewhat sad unfortunately. The owner of PM Foundations has been helping me fix it, and I sent him an SEM to have a look at.

He was really impressed with the build and general elegance of the SEM and we started developing a clone for Eurorack, even duplicating the look. I sent Tom Oberheim a note describing what we were thinking of doing, since I respect him and wanted his blessing. He referred me to an old friend of his who has been with him since the beginning (or, the 1970s), and we had a long phone conversation.

His take was that Tom had nothing against us using his general ideas but he would want us to take them further, use them as an inspiration to do more. So, we started from scratch. I threw out what we had designed and we started thinking about what we would design as an SEM if we designed something like that now.

As FetidEye mentioned, sometimes you just need to ask. But be ready for the response, it may not be what you had hoped for but it may give you some inspiration as well.

These modules are available as PCB/panel sets for Eurorack, and can be built either as separate modules or as part of the single-voice panel. I'm still building the first version of the panel but the separate modules are available and are on MG. I'm very happy with the sound and functionality.

Here is what they look like in my test rack cabled to mimic the functionality of an SEM.

the rules depend on the platform (website) that you are using to discuss and or distribute your modules or designs. the laws depend on the country you reside in and the country you sell or distribute your designs in. most of the time, distributing drawings that you created or somehow own is legal in the united states. circuits generally don't have any copyright until we start talking about the schematic which is a drawing created by a person or corporation. circuits can have patents but that is something that happened a long time ago with moog and arp. today patent law and analog synthesizers don't really overlap much. probably because there is are no new patents for analog modular synthesizers in our present time.

the biggest thing to consider is not the law or the website admin, it is your customers and the public perception of what you have provided and what you have taken from us. you can only exist if the people buy your stuff or let you post. or you can live in exile reverse engineering everything and selling boring cheap clones designed to put the real creators out of business. either people will notice your valuable contributions or they will notice your robotic greed if it should exist.
To make things more complicated there are ppl who “designs” a circuit what is nothing more as a source follower with an input potentiometer and put a copywrite on it, or takes the basic circuit out of the datasheet and does the same thing. seriously, i just don't get it
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