The Definitive Makerbot Open vs Closed Source Discussion

I did my best to document all the different points of view that are relevant to the open source hardware world but are spread all over the interwebs.

The original Makerbot founders.

This post got big, fast. Really big. After the jump you can find key quotes from Bre Pettis, Zachary Smith (Hoeken), Adrian Bowyer, Josef Prusa, etc.

  • Makerbot– Fixing Misinformation with Information
    • Bre Pettis – “Is the MakerBot Replicator 2 Open Source? We’re working that out and we are going to be as open as we possibly can while building a sustainable business.”
      • Christopher Allan Webber – “…the *main* bit of rumor going around was that MakerBot was moving away from open hardware, and this seems to be true, so that doesn’t seem like misinformation at all…”
        • Bre Pettis – “There is an open hardware definition, but there isn’t a clear business model. Sorry for the orwellian feel, I’m trying to be clear about where we’re at and the challenges we have.”
      • Tim Owens – “Makerbot has done enough for the open source hardware community to earn themselves some time to figure out how they move forward. I appreciate the honesty and transparency so far and also appreciate that there are ramifications for a company like Makerbot that Reprap fans spouting off in comment threads aren’t going to understand or acknowledge.”
        • Bre Pettis – “Thanks for the support. The rumors and hearsay bummed me out and made me feel misunderstood.”
      • Ezra Zygmuntowicz – “As a founder of an open source software company that raised $39million in VC and grew to 250 employees in 16+ countries in 5 years I can relate the tightrope that must be walked. But you are on the path now, makerbot industries is no longer yours and you are beholden to the board of directors and the almighty dollar now.”
        • Bre Pettis – “I saw your booth in Portland and complimented your employees on your machine. Maker Faire is always crazy, but let’s connect and chat. I’ll plan to swing by your booth.”
      • Matt Maier – “I don’t see how anyone loses by Makerbot becoming more successful no matter how they manage to do it. Even going totally closed source would benefit the community if it grows the market.”
        • Bre Pettis – “I think that some folks don’t realize that since the original Replicator, we’ve started competing with billion dollar companies with arsenals of weapons that make depending on the open source hardware unspoken rules feel like a vulnerable position…competing outside the hobbyist market with big companies is going to be one of our biggest challenges.”
      • macegr – “…there is more to the OSHW community than just the schematics and CAD files. There is an entire ecosystem of camaraderie, competition, acknowledgement, praise, disagreement, and sharing of resources. This is what makes OSHW projects actually work. And this is what you lose if you slight that community, even though you obey the written rules.”
        • Bre Pettis – “…there is intense competition from all sides. Good for the consumer, but challenging to navigate as a business. We’ve decided to focus on making the best 3D printer we can and making the experience easy and fun so that the people who buy MakerBot Replicator 2s can change the world by being able to easily make anything. I feel like that is the best bet we can make.”
      • Kendall – “Makerbot is really working hard to make people say oh, that’s a 3D printer. If you look at a laptop, you recognize it as a laptop. If you look at a printer. it looks like a printer. Makerbot is making the look for a 3d printer.”
        • Bre Pettis – “Yeah, we’re on an aggressive path to make this technology accessible to everyone. I’m planning for MakerBot to continue to grow towards being a platform that anyone can use to make their own business. It may seem corny to some, but at it’s core, a MakerBot is a machine for innovation…Tangibot…gave us a lot of insight into the manufacturers that are coming down the road who will copy MakerBot because we may make it easy for them. That experience pointed to the dangers of building a business based on a culture of sharing without speaking aloud some of the unspoken rules of open source hardware.”
      • Andy Mc – “Did you forget about Arduino? I personally would argue that Arduino is a larger open source hardware company than Makerbot is and possibly will ever be. Just take a look at how much their products are cloned on places like eBay and how many derivatives / Arduino-a-likes have popped up. So far I’ve yet to see them complain about it and they are still making new open hardware. I guess the difference is that they didn’t get a substantial VC investment.”
        • Bre Pettis – “you’re right Arduino is an important example…MakerBot is a startup and Arduino is a very organically grown business. Organically grown businesses are better in many ways. Because we chose to develop fast and have big competitors, we decided to take investment to bring this technology to people who will use it to do amazing things. Taking investment adds another layer to the business…”
      • Rick Kimball – “Your new less than idealist venture capitalist makerbot makes me sad. It makes me not want to contribute anything to opensource projects in fear that someone motivated by money will take the fruits of my labor and others and package it up as an MBA class project to show how stupid the 99 percent is and use it to highlight how you the smart the one percent can profit from their idealistic stupidity.”
      • Adrian Bowyer – ” I was one of those who put up the initial money for MakerBot when it branched off from RepRap. As a consequence I own a very small percentage of the company…I think that Open Source is a good thing…Even if I thought that Open Source was an evil pinko conspiracy…I would still have made RepRap Open Source…Remember that RepRap is not about 3D printing. It is about self-replication…RepRap is Open Source because that strategy must out-compete closed-source systems in reproductive fitness…Every RepRap can make RepRaps. Also, every closed-source 3D printer, and every non-replicating 3D printer such as a MakerBot, can make RepRaps. But RepRap won’t make any of them. The exponential mathematics of the RepRap population against the rest follows inexorably…When it comes to the success or failure of RepRap, moral beliefs, legal constraints and the flow of money are almost completely irrelevant. It is the evolutionary game theory that matters.”
        • Vik Olliver – “A company that invests in a closed design at this stage has an instant legacy issue, and a limit on the directon of future work. They will either come right and open up as they see themselves being overtaken, or fade away into insignificance.”
      • Ben Combee – “At Palm, I’ve witnessed the kind of manufacturing knowledge needed to get high-volume consumer products made…You guys are ambitious. Your original market was the random hobbyist comfortable with two days of assembly work to get a working printer, but now you’re moving into a phase where you want to reach much more people, many of whom aren’t technically minded…Chumby didn’t fail because they opened their designs. They failed due to having a product in a niche that just didn’t have the growth that investors wanted, and in a niche that got supplemented quickly by improved smartphones and tablets.”
      • John Casey – “First!!”
  • Hack a day – Makerbot, Occupy Thingiverse, and the reality of selling Open Hardware
    • Brian Benchoff – “Honestly, we hope [Josef Prusa] is wrong on this one. We hope the specific clauses in Thingiverse’s Terms of Use granting itself a license to do whatever it wants with uploaded Things is just a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo added in by lawyers to protect Thingiverse from being sued by crazy people. Still, if rumors are true, it may be a portent of things to come.”
      • Deg – “There’s a huge amount of independent and hobbyist development on desktop 3d printers within the open source realm. Let the companies decide where the place their product in this market. That said, changing the thingiverse license isn’t very nice.”
      • Glen – “Though people have sold Makerbot’s open source work the flow of technology has been largely from the Reprap and Arduino projects into Makerbot. Which is why people are angry at Makerbot’s clames to be the pioneer in the field of hobbyist 3D printing.”
      • rageahol – “this is driven by VCs and investors, pure and simple. fuck those, guys, and fuck makerbot.”
        • johnQ – “yea, fuck people who invest in businesses, make new jobs, and make a dirty dirty profit, because profit is satan!”
          • Haku – “Give 3D pieces a chance, man!”
      • cf – “Looking at the internet archive’s wayback machine, their license looks pretty much unchanged since July 2011”
        • daid303 – “Doesn’t make the license better. If it was there before, then it was wrong before, people maybe just noticed now.”
          • Frank Cohen – “There is nothing “wrong” at all. They have the right to run their site how they see fit. If you don’t like it, you’re not obligated to be a part of the community they’ve built. Folks have no right to complain if they haven’t even bothered to read the licensing agreement. Haters gonna hate.”
      • William Pretty – “I have a basic question, that I am sure has been asked before. In the open source / open hardware community, how are you supposed to ethically make money?…How do you attract investors, if they will never see a return on their investment ?”
        • tuseroni – “i think for most in the open source community making money is a secondary goal, if a goal at all. the goal is to make something good, to contribute to society and give something back…”
      • QW – “Why do people care if Makerbot 2 is open source or not anyway? I mean no one complains when someone designs and manufacture lets say a closed source desk-lamp. They are selling are product, its not like the Makerbot 1 has magically lost its open sourceness.”
        • Polymath – “I’m sure there is a huge market out there for people who want their own 3d printer but don’t want to build it. I guess it goes back to the Linux vs. Windows argument.”
          • Renee – “What about all of the people out there that would love to use 3d printing but have no desire/time to kit up a reprap and source parts? Yes it’s “easy” to do because we already know how to do it and like doing that thing.”
        • Zee – “They are upset because makerbot was basically built by the community”
          • jack – “Yes, the original MakerBot was.”
          • T.M. – “Makerbot reps have been hitting up all the hacker spaces and faires taking pictures of everything…It would be pretty unbelievable to come out and say that R2 was developed in a vacuum.”
      • Andr0id – “ToS have not changed recently from what I can tell. Also, they need the right to display the work you uploaded…If you are really afraid of copyright or license issues, you should not be posting it on a public site that can be reached world wide.”
        • Colecoman1982 – “If they want to display someone work (for advertising, for example) then they can contact the creator directly and get explicit permission. If the alternative is that they write an open-ended contract that allows them to, potentially, abuse it in the future and claim total ownership…”
          • spike – “They are NOT claiming ownership; they are taking a license. A license that states they can only use it to provide site services. You still own the work.”
      • Hack Man – “Bre Pettis is an ass.”
        • daid303 – “No, he is the steve jobs of 3D printing.”
          • saul_goode – “Steve Jobs was an ass.”
      • Bill Gander – “I’m sorry but I finally get to do this: BWAHAHAHA! As someone who has been burned too many times by the “grass roots open source diy love you man cottage industry” I say hahaha…I feel so bad for all the schmucks like me that show up to the Cons and fair(e)s, buying the kits that don’t have proper schematics, incorrect circuit boards, and outdated web only support links. Then when I try to get help, I get a “be cool bro, my aunt is sick so I am catsitting for another week and can’t look at the schematics.” That is the open source for sale experience I have had. Much like facebook, hopefully the DIY masses will understand the shenanigans and EXTREME link-looping, hit padding, and ahem shilling of friends’ goods while remaining “neutral” in the whole thing.”
        • Caleb Kraft – “yeah, I’ve had those experiences in the open source community too. So many software packages that were jacked up that offered the only answer of “its open source, just fix it yourself!””
        • saul_goode – “Nothing to do with open-source, everything to do with the fact that dude was a poor BUSINESSMAN.”
        • jack – “As Saul pointed out, all of your bad experiences were bad BUSINESS experiences. All of the problems you describe could just as easily happen (and do, on a regular basis) with closed source products.”
        • Jordan – “The ever common “we own everything” clause is basically so they can pick whatever they want to show for advertising purposes.”
        • larsie – “Yes. Without this they would might have to credit the inventor in cases when it might not be so easy to do, like on a picture or video. But on their site they have pictures of printed stuff and they are crediting the inventor.”
          • Coleman1982 – “Or, they might have to contact the creator and get explicit permission. I consider that a small price to pay in exchange for having a fairly written policy that can’t be abused in the future…”
      • i-o – “Makerbot has opted out of the open hardware community. Regardless of how far they now shift we should take steps to rebuild the community on more future proof foundations. Thingiverse needs to be replaced by something controlled by a non-profit entity along the lines of Wikimedia Foundation or Document Foundation. A foundation set to protect and promote open hardware into the future.”
      • electrosthetics – “MB/Bre are swearwords in most hackerspace 3d printer circles. Once while visiting noisebridge, a MB employee was there on fab night attempting to get pictures of the improved community designs, to the dismay of the builders. This is not unexpected, at least to me or those people I’ve met in the 3d printing scene. Business and the hacker ethos are nearly impossible to integrate without the compromise of core principles/ethics on either side.”
      • pcf11 – “The Chinese laugh in the face of your silly capitalistic licenses! ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
        • Haku – “Now there’s a thought, if/when the Chinese manufacturers see a market for 3D printers and bang them out at dirt cheap prices it could change the whole playing field quite drastically.”
      • Robert Eastwood – “Its ok to make a profit, but only if that profit is also in part owned by the developer, the developer did not give it to thingiverse…Google does not claim the information it points to. And no site should require ownership to have something posted.”
      • Matt Maier – “I think this whole discussion comes down to a difference between values. Open means that you prioritize open over everything else. Business means that you prioritize profit over everything else…You try getting $10M and see if yours don’t change. Investors expect not only their money back, but a significant profit along with it…and they expect it in a few years. The only way for Makerbot to get that kind of money is to move into a bigger market. ”
        • T.M. – “They were dishonest with the world if they were only interested enough in being open until they got paid…Now that dishonesty is coming to a head against one or the other and they have to make the hard decision. It seems to me they genuinely cared about being open but they made a bad business deal and now they have to handle the consequences.”
          • Renee – “Makerbot isn’t being dishonest and I wish people would stop pretending like they have precise knowledge of what Makerbot is doing.”
          • T.M. -“Makerbot got a ton of money and are now answering to investors. That, combined with the rambly, corporate double speak notice they posted that didn’t say a whole lot except, “Hang on guys, we just need to convince you everything is cool at the next conference.” speaks volumes about what’s going on.”
          • Renee – ” this has little to nothing to do with VC funding and everything to do with making sure they can remain a viable business. “
          • Matt Maier – “maybe they didn’t think too much about it back when they didn’t have anything to lose. But now that they have succeeded, they’d rather not fail. “
          • T.M. – “So then you agree with people who say that open source hardware was just a means to an end for Makerbot.”
  • Makezine– Is one of our open source heroes going closed source
    • Rob Giseburt – “MakerBot and its community’s contributions dovetailed with those of the general DIY 3D printing community, including those from the RepRap project, and has created an unprecedented free exchange of innovation in designing 3D printers. This has resulted in freely available plans for industrial-quality CNC devices that are made of and consume materials that are readily available and consumer-safe…what if MakerBot did start to close the source to their devices?…They could no longer truly be a part of the maker community, but would instead become another company offering us their trinkets…But you cannot, as a company, expect to have an outward ethic of sharing your innovation with the world, yet still have key technologies in one hand behind your back…A product that’s closed source until it’s end-of-life is, essentially, only of archeological value…There is no doubt a need to remain competitive and profitable. After all, they have to be able to afford to put food on the employees’ tables along with continuing R&D to stay ahead of the competition. These are very real problems that have complex solutions…And, after all, the target market of MakerBot, along with many open source hardware companies, is the full spectrum of makers. Not just makers of competing 3D printers, but makers of all sorts: artists, industrial designers, engineers, high-school teachers, biology professors, electrical engineers, architects, etc. Makers don’t want black-box trinkets. They want something that, if they want to open it up and learn how it works, they can.”
      • Michael Stephens – “If makerbot closes source they are going to lose their community and lose some community feedback”
      • Sean Ragan – “I often think the only intelligent long-term business plan for a hardware startup, even a closed-source one, is to build a product, a market, and a brand, and then sell out to an 800-lb gorilla.”
      • Jason Gullickson – “Awhile back I read an interview with Bre where the question was asked what Makerbot would do when this situation came up. He said that they would simply out-innovate the competition and I think this is a valid (and healthy) response.”
        • JF Brandon – “I thought of all the investors and the Board of Directors of Makerbot, not just Bre or his Open-Source Cohorts. Those guys are interested in making money, not being absolutely principled.”
          • Jason Gullickson – “I think the best strategy is to come up with something that is not anticipated by the “clone” makers…make your previous product obsolete in light of the new one and keep your competition guessing (and your customers enchanted).”
      • Hank Snow – “Perhaps it’s time for the Open Source Maker community to pick a new standard bearer.”
      • Robert Rothermel – ” I really hope they find a niche. I feel like every successful open source project needs at least one corporate champion (I’m thinking Acquia, Commerce Guys, NodeOne… Red Hat, Canonical… etc).”
        • Sean Ragan – “Hardware has significant per-unit manufacturing costs; software costs essentially nothing to mass-produce. If you’re making open source hardware in the US, you have to worry, for instance, that the 800-lb gorillas are going to sniff out your profits, reverse engineer your product, and then beat you to death with the economies of scale they enjoy…The gorillas’ advantage is chiefly in manufacturing. If you’re making software, where manufacturing costs are slight, an open source product can (and often has) beaten the pants off the gorillas’ closed-source offerings…I think we may be talking apples and oranges to freely compare open source hardware to open source software…”
      • Matt – “I feel that MakerBot Ind. has been strongly influenced by the fact that they took money from VC’s and are now under some of there command. They can’t afford to loose any money…”
        • Christian Restifo – “I think this, more than anything, explains (if it’s true) the move to closed source. VC funds have one goal in mind: invest in a company and develop it to a point where they can sell it to someone else or cash in on an IPO…the current system has not caught up to the idea of open source hardware the way it has in regards to open source software…VC funds don’t care about advancing markets, democratizing production, or pushing open source. They care about making bets on companies to make money…”
      • Mr Whizzerz – “If some VC puppet masters break the ethos and this company goes away it has no impact on the Open Source 3D Printing community…”
        • Rob Giseburt – “…we shouldn’t just assume that it’s the VCs behind this decision. The VCs obviously put their money into an open hardware company, and they would have done their homework on the ramifications of that.”
      • dorkmo – “props to the vc. gotta have balls to invest in a technology whos goal is to self replicate.”
      • Parker – “This printer is AMAZING and i would much rather buy this–and have it work out of the box–than build a REP RAP and have it NOT work because i have NO experience in hardware OR software engineering/building/troubleshooting. I do however have experience in 3d modeling and would love to realize some of those creations in plastic, from my home…And this is the issue Makerbot has to face. they are in a transitional state between catering to the engineers that have propped them up, and building for the mass market that doesn’t care if there is an Arduino, Pi, or some alien technology running it as long as the product does what it says it will do–without glitches…”
      • Darkwood71 – “Creators of open source hardware SHOULD protect themselves from being ripped off by using patents, copyrights and licenses to stop these situations from occurring…In my opinion, they’ve gone well above and beyond being generous with their knowledge, and have earned the right to not have to deal with jerks like Tangibot (or being maligned on the Make blog for protecting their work and livelihood).”
      • Dave – “Congratulations to Bre and the rest of the team you have moved to a new market. Now the makers need to unite and continue!!! We need to represent the individual makers!!!”
  • Josef Prusa– Open Hardware meaning
    • Josef Prusa – “I’’ve been in the RepRap community for a very long time by todays standards and helped to spread it a lot. Prusa Mendel is probably the most wide spread 3D printer on the Earth…Open Hardware and RepRap got me where I am. If you are starting with Open Hardware, don’t be afraid to do it right, you can still succeed…Makerbot is based on RepRap, and they weren’t ashamed about it. That started to change and Makerbot started to distance itself. When I gave talks about RepRap people started to accuse me of ripping off Makerbot. I was like WTF!…they got some $10M of funding. And things started to change in the background…surprise, surprise, we now have a Replicator 2 and it is closed source. Hey look, we took all your improvements you shared on thingiverse, compiled it into one package and closed it for you…And you know what is the biggest, sneaky move? Not mentioning it while they announced it…I had to call their support and ask them directly. I got the answer, that Replicator 2 is closed source…OMG and look at Looks like I’m going to pull down all my stuff from Thingiverse…”
      • Laird Popkin – “perhaps the investors insisted that some aspect of the products be proprietary because otherwise a competitor (e.g. HP or Cubify) could legally clone MBI’s products and use their superior marketing and sales channels to crush MBI. As a customer who is an engineer, I’d be happiest if the entire software stack would be open, of course, but I can certainly understand how MBI, as a business, might need to close some elements.”
      • Traumflug – “Honestly, I’m a bit surprised by this sudden hate of MakerBot. Keeping source closed until the first unit is shipping is a practice often seen and seen for a long time in the RepRap-related world…What causes this sudden change? Is it this one drop too much, making the already filled glas spilling? Is it because Josef Prusa, now being a commercial, too, has adjusted it’s viewing perspective a bit?
      • fugon – “MBI isn’t the first to do this. What about Makergear’s M2? Just like MBI, they took the hardware closed source. Didn’t even make the 3D printed parts available, which’d be very handy to modify. And Makergear owes its existence to Reprap, too.”
      • schorhr – “Isn’t it a little quick to delete everything? Perhaps it can be sorted out. I’d hate to go back and delete everything… It’s probably just a misunderstanding.”
      • Good Business – “I found your rant funny, in fact I laugh so much that you got famous from the Prusa mendel which in fact was a copy of loads of other peoples mods compiled into one machine…Problem with RepRap is its predominantly a community of people with a software background and it shows, there is no open reprap linked company out there with close to decent hardware…they are good at business and realized the open source community is comparatively miniscule compared to the market out there. Hence a PLA only machine targeted at education and a 2x version targeted at business with a support contract. They don’t care about RepRap anymore and about time too it makes good business sense.”
        • Josef Prusa – “Thank you for your opinion”
          • Good Business – “Didn’t mean to sound so harsh before that was mainly directed at the hardware aspects. I think MB handled the transition from open to closed hardware poorly. However I feel there is a strong case for boycotting thingiverse which ideals should be all about openness and sharing creativity and also questions should be raised about their potential abuse of the skeinforge license.”
      • 65536 – “On one hand, I would argue that what Makerbot is doing is very reasonable, and we should not be angry with them…On the other hand, I think Prusa is raising a very important issue, which is that Makerbot seems to no longer share some of the core values of the open hardware community and thus we probably don’t want to depend on them for key infrastructure like collections of open hardware designs. Much like Facebook, changes in user agreements may sacrifice things that are important to the community for the benefit of Makerbot.”
        • dorkmo – “youtube allows you to pick different liscence settings for each video”
      • Frederic Defoy – “It made me furious how they just cash on what the reprap community has worked so hard to acheive. The very least they could have done is allow us to use MakeWare even without a Makerbot printer. Even if its closed source, at least it wouldnt feel as tough we have been cheated.”
      • Imran – “It’s not a shame about MakerBot. It’s the Market…I also have designed a 3D printer. Mine is strong enough to mill. I’ve made it open source on thingiverse. I debated going closed source on this, both with myself, and with people at a hackerspace. I chose open source, but I may change my mind in the future…my design is truly open source. Everything is in standard format, and you can make everything yourself. So what happened? People openly talk to me about how they plan on ripping off my design and not paying me for the work I did…Open Source doesn’t work as a business beyond a certain scale point…they only have to recoup marginal costs, while you have to make both marginal and fixed costs. You did all the design work, and you’ll never even break even. That’s fine if it’s a hobby for you. It’s not a sustainable business with employees who expect to get paid beyond a certain scale point…They now are on the hook to pay out a lot of money, since they have investment capital. They’re on the hook to pay larger numbers of employees. If they gave away their designs, it would be stolen. It already has been. I already know of people who made their own MakerBot clones and use/sell them commercially — yet never bothered to pay MakerBot for the design…I think maybe 50-75% of MakerBot Cupcakes for sale on Ebay are rip-offs now. I have no idea how many TOMs and Replicators are, but I’d wager that at least 15% of them are not official.”
      • Zach Fine – “The complaint over the Thingiverse TOS seems like a very unfortunate misinterpretation (undoubtedly multiplied by the fact that the Makerbot 2 appears to be closed-source hardware). I hope everyone calms down and keeps uploading, or finds another good centralized way to share objects and plans, as I’ve found Thingiverse (which has not changed) to be a valuable resource.”
  • Hoektronics– MakerBot vs. Open Source – A Founder Perspective
    • Zachary Smith (Hoeken) – ” I invited my friends Adam Mayer and Bre Pettis to go into business with me building 3D printers. Thus, MakerBot Industries was born. Fast forward to April, 2012 when I was forced out of the very same company…I do not support any move that restricts the open nature of the MakerBot hardware, electronics, software, firmware, or other open projects…If these allegations do prove true, it would be a sad day indeed for the open hardware movement. Not only would it be a loss of a large Open Hardware manufacturer, but it would also be a loss of a poster child for the movement…For me, personally, I look at a move to closed source as the ultimate betrayal…I had assumed that Bre would continue to follow the principles that we founded the company on, and the same principles that played a major part in the success of our company. Moving from an open model to a closed model is contrary to everything that I stand for, and as a co-founder of MakerBot Industries, it makes me ashamed to have my name associated with it.”
      • Griffin Boyce – “Such a large disagreement between the community and MakerBot… it’s hard to imagine that this is just about money. I’d certainly hope that there is more to the decision than that, though perhaps that is wishful thinking.”
      • Traumflug – “Never trust investors. They simply do not care about ideals.”
      • Matt Underwood – “In 2010, Bre went on a huge rant chastising a very small RepRap company, Techzone. Techzone doesn’t exist anymore, but the rant shows that “Circa 2010 Bre” is 180° out of phase with “Circa 2012 Bre”, this is a lack of integrity. Here’s the post:
      • Adrian Bowyer – “Zach – I agree with all you say above.”
      • Spencer Renosis – “Everything you said in this post is true. It is clear from the blog post from Makerbot about the Replicator 2′s planned license, that it will definitely be closed source. What was up with that blog post anyway, so soulless. Filling a page and saying nothing. I am pretty certain Makerbot will now be experiencing a slow painful death from the cancer that is greedy venture capitalists. They are going to lose their community…”
  • Thingiverse– Occupy Thingiverse Test cube
    • Josef Prusa – “I’m leaving Thingiverse after seeing updated Terms of , over next few days I will remove all my stuff…The fact that they don’t intend (today) to exercise the rights they’ve granted themselves also doesn’t magically give them a free pass. Companies change – take a look at their stance on Open Source Hardware.”
      • Justin Day – “I’m running the web team at MakerBot these days. The terms have not changed.  The last commit to that file was over 7 months ago, and included only minor changes to links.  Look at the bottom of the file, it still reads “Copyright 2010, 2011”. I started a company called some time back and while I’m not a lawyer I can tell you that you have to grant us a license to your work so that we can host it.  It was the same deal with blip.We’re not changing anything about the relationship we have to you or your things on Thingiverse.”
        • TheMakerGuy – “Just as I thought. This is old news and is just troll bait by one person and really could just be a misunderstanding. Please don’t feed the trolls and this will just go away.”
        • 3DTOPO – “Can you comment then on Makerbot’s policy of printing freely contributed designs and profiting without giving the designer anything? For example, the heart gears you are selling for $249. That can’t cost you more than a few dollars. It just doesn’t seem fair to not give the designer a penny when you are profiting so much from their design.”
          • mtdna – “The guy who designed the $249 heart (Emmett) licenses his designs under CC-BY-SY, which says you are free to use his work commercially. So Makerbot (or you) are free to build and sell it.”
            • 3DTOPO – “I stand corrected; thanks!”
      • PropellerScience – ” I took my stuff off of here because Makerbot is going closed source, and this is Makerbot’s website.”
      • Mjolnir – “Weird.  Makerbot just sent me $100 bucks to be allowed to commercially produce a thing I designed, and uploaded with Creative Commons licensing (cc-by-sa to be specific).  (… ).  Even though I tagged it as “commercial use is OK with attribution”, those greedy bastards are giving me $100 for it.   Darn them for being so greedy, or something, I guess…”
      • raldrich – “The fact that the legal ramifications of MakerBot’s TOS weren’t discovered until today doesn’t magically give them a free pass. The fact that they don’t intend (today) to exercise the rights they’ve granted themselves also doesn’t magically give them a free pass.  Companies change – take a look at their stance on Open Source Hardware.”
        • CrazyJaw – “What happened here is that there was a lose of trust. Used to be, people would look a the ToS and say “I dont know what this means, but makerbot is a good company so im sure its in my best interests”. Now that people are unsure of the companies future intentions, they view the same clauses with a cynical edge.”
          • akhlut – “let’s face it, if the VC paymasters wanted to get rid of Bre they probably could in a heartbeat.  And I don’t trust them at all.  They would coldly look at the ‘assets’ (e.g. your designs) and do what they want with them.  After all, the ToS gives them that right.”


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4 thoughts on “The Definitive Makerbot Open vs Closed Source Discussion

  1. Jim Colleran says:

    I am new to this Open vs. Closed Source argument, but I am not aware of hardware companies of any type that make their CAD drawings available for free. That, as I understand it, is what the Open Source people are proposing. The same is true for software companies. Large software companies use open-source only if it makes them money to do so. Most use it for good PR.

    Whether you like it or not, we need to allow companies, especially start up companies, all the protection we can to allow them to be successful. If not, the cloners win. Someone can find a way to make your design more cheaply (like in Southeast Asia). Mbot anyone?

    If someone knows of a way to have a successful, growing company using open-source hardware and software, let me know.

    • There’s a problem with this though – makerbot was derived from a GPL product – reprap. Any derived works from a GPL project must also be GPL. As far as I understand this means that makerbot has no legal basis to close source their product.

      I’m not a lawyer and I’m probably wrong, but can someone explain this to me?

  2. magicmissiles says:

    Makerbot is a shit company, that treats their staff like garbage. These fuckers are going to tank hard and deserve it. Do not invest in them and stay the hell away from their crappy product. Dishonest jack offs.

  3. […] available. The shift towards closed-source has proven rather controversial, as evidenced in the flap surrounding the MakerBot Replicator 2 not going fully open-source. The goals of the open-source […]

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