A reply to Josef Průša - Thea Flowers

Good analysis of open source community collaboration and how licensing may not be a good solution to copy cats.


Thanks. Good article. I generally agree though I do think there are better options available than just copyright regime stuff for a company the size of Prusa. There are trademarks of course but patents combined with open patent licenses are woefully underutilized and might be a good option if Prusa is actually making hardware innovations that are being copied.


Nice, thanks for sharing this @kaspar. I largely agree with this response. I am also worried by Prusa’s discourse which does not seems to solve anything but is likely to take the printer design out of the open source hardware definition.


Thats a great read, thanks for sharing :slight_smile: I broadly agree with it, and also with Juul’s comment. I will probably repeat/rephrase some of those ideas below.

This situation reminds me of what happened with Protoneer’s CNC shield. It also reminds me of another story behind the original original Arduino. And so on…

I often wonder how I would react if it happened around me, and here is what I have so far. Perhaps the current best case scenario for open source people is to have robust reasons to work openly (i.e. independent of retribution) and to be realistic at managing expectations.


I have fun thinking that if some company builds my project for dirt cheap everywhere, then they would actually be doing the rest of the (boring) work for me, and I would be able to move on to more interesting stuff.

Of course, this argument breaks down if I develop openly, and another researcher gets a grant with my ideas / progress, and I get kicked out.

I am a bit sceptic as to Josef’s reasons though. Closing products would make more sense if they are looking for more traditional investments, like Opentrons seems to have done.

All in all, I like to think that the open source movement is all about playing tit-for-tat, and then choosing the strategy every time (as long as you have food on your plate).


Thanks for posting @kaspar, what a great response.

Some context for those who haven’t followed: Prusa Research, a famous and well-regarded maker of (largely) open source 3D printers, had a blog post recently where they are considering using non-open source licenses for their future products. From what I can tell, a major reason for this is a fear of clones that “undercut” them and don’t “give back”. The post that @kaspar linked to is a response to that, which argues that it’s actually even more important for the products in question to remain fully open source hardware.

This came up in the interviews I recently did regarding research culture. Sadly I’m not aware of a “solution”, but can really relate to it.

Closing products would make more sense if they are looking for more traditional investments, like Opentrons seems to have done.

Wait, are Opentrons products closed source now??? :hushed:

P.S. I like the structure and overall tone of this post by Stargirl Flowers, being clear on points of agreement and disagreement, and overall respectful dialogue.

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I quite liked Stargirl Flowers’ response as well – Prusa opened up a can of worms – I started to chip away at them starting with the first issues of patent parasites Josef brought up. I think there is a clear existing legal way to deal with them - although we as an open hardware community could do better to automate defenses: https://3dprint.com/299107/an-open-response-to-the-state-of-open-source-in-3d-printing-in-2023-how-to-preemptively-quash-patent-parasites-and-trolls/


I have not been able to find any assembly documentation on their pipettes, thermocyclers, or other equipment (only “whitepapers” with no relevant detail). You can find 3D models in their repos for the CNC structure (but not editable CAD files) which is the most generic part. The software remains open source, but it is overly complex, and very tied to their setup.

That looks great :slight_smile: have any outputs been published yet? I would have liked to see “scientific software/equipment” as a possible research output in Octopus, sorry I missed the interviews.


Thanks @jpearce and @naikymen.

If anything, looks like Josef Průša’s post really started a much-needed conversation, which IMO is a good thing, even if I might disagree with some of Průša arguments.

:point_right: Is anyone keeping track of the responses to Průša’s original post? If its intent is to start a conversation, there is value in tracking the responses so that others can actually follow the conversation! In other words, are there more notable responses to Průša’s original post? I’d love to document this conversation in one place, maybe even in this thread!

That looks great :slight_smile: have any outputs been published yet?

Thank you for your interest! Not yet. There is now a complete draft of the report and is still be revised. I’ll be sure to share once the final version is published!

I would have liked to see “scientific software/equipment” as a possible research output in Octopus, sorry I missed the interviews.

No worries. You know, that’s the thing with open research publishing platforms. Research encompasses so many things. You and I might say that “scientific software/equipment” should be a type of publishable output on Octopus, and an art historian or musicologist might say something very different. On one hand, this is a big challenge when thinking about open research and open science. We need to have intellectual humility and realise that we are individually only seeing a small part of the diversity of research. On the other hand, that’s the benefit of doing open research, because it is open source so it can continue to develop and improve, and Octopus (or the way it is now) is not and should not be the final word on how it should be done.


Michael Weinberg’s (OSHWA board as well, NYU Engelberg) reply: A(nother) Reply to Josef Průša – Michael Weinberg


Logging all of them would be really good idea! There are some short responses on Prusa’s twitter feed.

Here is my part 2 response : Open Source 3D Printing: Set up Your Open Hardware Development So Everyone Can Participate https://3dprint.com/299112/open-source-3d-printing-set-up-your-open-hardware-development-so-everyone-can-participate/amp/

More on the way - as there was a lot to unpack…


Bumped into this one just know


The part about prusas open source tattoo kills me. :joy:

I also don’t like prusas tone where he’s all like “we are thr last bastion of western freedom against the Chinese!”

And also the part where he complains that OSHWA, the tiny little organization, is not doing enough to protect prusa, bahahahha. Seems like this dude is getting pretty detached from reality.

I felt like this post was adjacent to this discussion, and so thought I would share. It’s more focused on individual software maintainers, and provides the author’s views on licensing and the acceptability of compromises that are made for sustainable open source. The post gave me the impression that the author would sympathize with Prusa’s strategies.