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FSFE nudges emergency ventilator project towards a Free Software License

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Written by Nico Rikken

After a nudge by the FSFE, the Dutch OpenAIR initiative has provided licenses on their material to support reuse.

In the Netherlands an initiative has started to cope with COVID-19 by developing an easily producible emergency ventilator for which parts could mainly be sourced locally: OperationAIR. This project was started on 16 March by professor Harlaar and students of the Department of BioMechanical Engineering of Delft Technical University in order to ensure enough ventilator capacity for treating COVID-19 patients. The team intended their design to be publicly available for reuse. To adhere to the principles of Open Science all documentation, technical design and source code was published in a coherent fashion on their website.

Ventilator hardware overview
Rendering of the OperationAIR ventilator. CC-BY-4.0 International OperationAIR

The Dutch FSFE team noticed, however, that the project as published was not reusable. It lacked a license and contained a disclaimer prohibiting commercial use. The FSFE reached out to the team to make them aware that their current publication did not meet their intentions. The team agreed and after a meeting with their lawyers decided to change the disclaimer, to put a CC-BY 4.0 International license on all documents, and to provide the software under a Free Software license (Apache 2.0 license).

The FSFE applauds the OpenAIR team for adhering to the principles of Free Software and Open Science and for contributing in the COVID-19 crisis. We hope that more people will follow this example to release solutions for COVID-19 under a Free Software License for reuse, says Nico Rikken, the FSFE's coordinator for the Netherlands.

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