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Idea unleashed during GEW: Open hardware

Mark Marich (GEW global)

United States of America

Mar 23, 2010

The power of Global Entrepreneurship Week is its ability to bring people together—to expand their networks, and in turn, expand their ideas. 

This is what happened at an event in Beirut, where Ayah Bdeir, founder of an open hardware project called LittleBits and an Eyebeam senior fellow, met John Wilbanks, a vice president with Creative Commons, a nonprofit devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to legally build upon and share. By the end of the conversation, the two had decided to co-host a conference in New York City.

The conference, which took place March 18-19, was all about open-source hardware. Open-source hardware (also called OH) is pre-made electronic equipment that can help individuals design devices of their own. The goal of OH is to speed up product development and improve accessibility for designers who have ideas, but lack extensive technical backgrounds. However, with technology evolving faster than the law can keep up, keeping track of the rules of open-source hardware can be confusing.  Because OH involves building new inventions off of preexisting technology, it is difficult to determine who owns what. Navigating the maze of intellectual property laws can discourage people from turning their best ideas into reality.

The workshop tackled this concept, fostering a direct dialogue between Creative Commons representations and a number of the major players in the OH community.

See footage of the NYC meeting, which took place March 18-19.