CERN Open Hardware Licence

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The CERN Open Hardware Licence (OHL or CERN OHL) is an open-source hardware licence[a] created by CERN. The licence comes in three variants: strongly reciprocal[b] (CERN-OHL-S), weakly reciprocal (CERN-OHL-W), and permissive (CERN-OHL-P).


The CERN OHL licence was created as an initiative of the members of the Open Hardware Repository, a knowledge-exchange project of electronics designers working in experimental-physics laboratories, founded by CERN engineers, to regulate the use of the designs published by CERN.[2][3]

Version 1[edit]

Version 1.0 was published in March 2011. Following community feedback, Version 1.1 was published in July 2011 to follow the generally accepted principles of the free and open-source movements and make it easier for use by entities other than CERN.[3][4]

Version 1.2, published in September 2013, removed the obligation for licensees that modified a CERN OHL-licensed design to notify upstream licensors about the changes and introduced a notion of "Documentation Location" to guarantee hardware recipients access to the design documents. The license's text ceased to single out Intergovernmental Organizations such as CERN, making them the same as any other licensor or licensee.[5][6]

Version 2[edit]

Version 2.0, published in March 2020, simplified the licence's terminology and divided it into three variants: strongly reciprocal (CERN-OHL-S), weakly reciprocal (CERN-OHL-W), and permissive (CERN-OHL-P). The license's range was broadened to include artistic, mechanical, and electronic designs, as well as adapting it to cases such as application-specific integrated circuits, field-programmable gate arrays, and even software.[7][8]


The CERN OHL is an accepted free content licence according to the Free Cultural Works definition,[9] and Version 2.0 is approved by the Open Source Initiative.[10]

Projects using the CERN OHL[edit]

The ColorHug2, an open source colorimeter.

On the CERN OHL website they have a list of projects using their licence.[11] These projects include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Contrary to most licence names, the CERN OHL uses the British English spelling licence rather than the American English spelling license which contains an "s".
  2. ^ CERN OHL authors prefer to use the term "reciprocal" instead of "copyleft" because the underlying rights are not limited to copyright.[1]


  1. ^ "Faq · Wiki · Projects / CERN Open Hardware Licence". Open Hardware Repository. 2023-08-03. Retrieved 2023-12-28.
  2. ^ "Hardware joins the open movement". CERN Courier. 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2023-12-28.
  3. ^ a b "Open hardware for open science". CERN Document Server. Retrieved 2023-12-28.
  4. ^ CERN launches Open Hardware initiative
  5. ^ "CERN releases new version of open hardware licence". CERN. 2023-12-15. Retrieved 2023-12-28.
  6. ^ "Faq · Wiki · Projects / CERN Open Hardware Licence". Open Hardware Repository. 2023-08-03. Retrieved 2023-12-28.
  7. ^ CERN OHL v2 draft presented at FSiC2019
  8. ^ CERN updates its Open Hardware Licence
  9. ^ Licenses on "The CERN Open Hardware Licence (CERN OHL) is a license used in open-source hardware projects (OSHW)."
  10. ^ Tim Anderson. "A dedicated licence for open-source hardware: CERN OHL approved by OSI". Retrieved 2021-01-31.
  11. ^ "Cernohlprojects · Wiki · Projects / CERN Open Hardware Licence".
  12. ^ "AXIOM Alpha".
  13. ^ "Mechanical Ventilator Milano".Galbiati, C.; Abba, A.; Agnes, P.; Amaudruz, P.; Arba, M.; Ardellier-Desages, F.; Badia, C.; Batignani, G.; Bellani, G.; Bianchi, G.; Bishop, D. (2021). "The novel Mechanical Ventilator Milano for the COVID-19 pandemic". Physics of Fluids. 33 (3): 037122. arXiv:2003.10405. Bibcode:2021PhFl...33c7122A. doi:10.1063/5.0044445. PMC 8060010. PMID 33897243.
  14. ^ "Monero Hardware Wallet revision control". GitHub. 14 May 2020.
  15. ^ "ScopeFun - Open Source Oscilloscope Hardware". Retrieved 2022-04-17.
  16. ^ "colorhug2-hardware/COPYING at master · hughski/colorhug2-hardware · GitHub". GitHub. 28 August 2016.
  17. ^ "biere-libre". Archived from the original on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2015-06-25.

External links[edit]