Digi-Key Adds KiCad PCB Model Download


It looks that KiCad is spreading more and more as Digi-Key add KiCad footprints to their parts.

Digikey now has KiCad export

Nice. They often have 3D models, as well. Do they line up with the footprints?


The service is actually provided by UltraLibrarian, they are getting everywhere. There are 15 free downloads per month, then you have to start paying… I found the quality of the parts from UltraLibrarian very basic, but I guess it is useful for those parts with many pins that are rather tedious to create.

It should be noted that parts from UltraLibrarian are not suitable for inclusion in Free or Open Source projects. Check the Terms and Conditions.

There are a few other parts providers supporting KiCad, I won’t mention them by name to avoid getting spammed.


From the press release:
“Having fully-qualified symbols, footprints, and 3D models through Digi-Key and Ultra Librarian will be a tremendous resource for our KiCad user base,” said Wayne Stambaugh, KiCad Project Leader. “As an open source project, we welcome all support for our community.”


I’m not sure what “fully qualified” means… UltraLibrarian provide no warranty or claim any fitness for purpose…
I’ll bet that Wayne has not read the Terms and Conditions :slight_smile:

Anyway, I just tried it, and it says “down for maintenance” :rolling_eyes:


Agreed. I downloaded the symbol for the iCE40HX8K FPGA in CB132 package and it’s just a big block with 132 pins on the L/R sides and no pin grouping into similar functions. I wonder what a 1000-pin BGA would look like!

Wow, was not aware of that! Thanks for pointing it out. Kind of goes directly against the ethos of KiCad if you can’t share anything you make.


I think it is like gcc, gcc is a natural choice for open projects rather than a proprietary compiler, but that does not preclude writing purely proprietary project using gcc. So there are two quite different types of user, who can co-exist.

Where it gets messy is with middle-ware and libraries. FOSS projects have to be quite careful not to include proprietary stuff, which doesn’t affect typical commercial projects.

Wayne kinda confused the issue by mentioning open source - for commercial-proprietary-private users of KiCad, it might be tremendous news. For people working in the FOSS space, it’s pretty meh.


Non-free footprints are a bigger problem than 3d models as the KiCad-pub file embeds the footprint. Publish your project on the Net and you have violated copyright


Give it time and the 3D models will be included as well…
In the end they will come up with a system for symbols, footprints, 3D models and maybe even spice models in one big blob to be able to archive/freeze your project for future reference - at least that’s my hope. :hugging:
At least that’s what I took away from the couple of discussions on this forum I’ve seen from @Rene, @Maui and @SchrodingersGat a couple of weeks ago.

On the other hand, how does one license a footprint or symbol file that is KiCAD complaint?
There is no license option in there afaik and you can’t put any (sane) watermarks into them either.
Same is true for 3D step models… I put a license piece in there, but it’s plain readable and change/erasable.
Unless you put a mark into the 3D model itself (in the 3D data)… but even that is erasable. It might work though, as that data is bigger than the footprint/symbol data.

As long as KiCAD uses plain human readable formats for it’s stuff I don’t think anyone can enforce any proprietary rights here - if the user of those files is smart enough to remove those silly restricting things.


DRM is for enforcing ownership not license. Licence by itself can not (nor it makes any sense that it would) prevent somebody else taking the work and repackaging and selling it as their own.


PCB footprints are in a legal grey area. I am assured that a PCB layout is not subject to copyright, which surprised me.


Somewhat off-topic, but…

I think what most people don’t realise is that if physical objects such as PCBs were subject to copyright, it would have far reaching consequences that would be catastrophic for consumer rights.

There is a really important principle known as “first sale doctrine”, which most people never heard of, but basically gives you rights to own, use, lend or sell a product once you have legitimately bought it, regardless of IP rights embodied in it. However, when products are “licensed but not sold” then manufacturers can bypass that and impose whatever terms they want on the licensee (customer).

Manufacturers would license all their products instead of selling them. The license terms would be written to maximise profits for the manufacturer, which means being most restrictive for the licensee.

Think you can repair “your” product? Forget it, you must take it to a manufacturer authorised repair centre. Think you can re-sell your product secondhand? Forget it, the license terms prevent resale. Think you can simply lend the product to a friend? Forget it, the license is granted to you personally, and cannot be transferred to third parties.

Unfortunately, we are already sleep walking down this road, and manufacturers are doing everything they can to lock down products. The ideal situation for manufacturers is that they retain all rights to a product, and customers pay a recurring subscription fee for a carefully limited use of a product. Manufacturers do not want a “level playing field”, they want it tilted as much as possible in their favour.

Anyway, if component data was copyrightable, that copyright would belong to the manufacturer who created the pin out, or the IPC who define standards. There is no creative element in taking that data and turning it into a file suitable for a specific CAD package.

However, even if the legal basis for a copyright claim is bogus, the threat to sue is real. You would still have to defend it, and a court could find that there is a legal binding contract with terms not relying on copyright that are breached.

Extending copyright to everything could seem reasonable to protect “creators rights”, but you need to look very careful at what the consequences of that are, and who would benefit most from that.


While a lot of what bobc writes is very relevant, I want to point out that the details of copyright varies a lot around the world.

For example, although the US requires a ‘creative element’ to gain copyright,(as exemplified by the decision that a phone book is not copyright) in the UK anything made by a person automatically is copyright by that person unless/until they assign it elsewhere (e.g. by employment contract). And yes, different parts of one thing can be copyright by different people. Because of the variation, any discussion of copyright really must include which country(ies) are being discussed.

In this case, I think that a UK court would agree that a human-drawn PCB layout (i.e. arrangement of tracks, relative placement of components) was copyright even if sub-elements of that (e.g. a logo) were copyright by someone else.

Again in the UK, as far as I am aware, the book/web page design the component data is recorded on is copyright, as is any drawing, but the data itself (dimensions, numbers of pins, etc) is not. Whether the actual pin names are copyright is open to question – I don’t know. I believe therefore that someone creating a component footprint from the data (by reading the figures) creates their own work, not a derivative work.


Does this allow the possibility of a workaround to allow the inclusion in the file a specification of the dimensions and shapes of a footprint and/or 3D model that could be used by the receiver of such a file in a (perhaps specified) generator script?

Any speculation on the copyright status of that file?


Copyright comes down to someone willing to force the issue and getting a court to agree with them. I would think it would be hard to prove ownership of a copyright on a standard configuration such run of the mill resistors, caps, DIP packages, etc… If a company has a non-standard package it doesn’t make sense for them to try and restrict usage of the footprint unless it is some really unique thing.

3D models can be a little tricker. How can you claim you DIP28 is really all that unique from another if they are generated with the same kind of metrics and standards? But as I told my son when he was considering a career in law, legal has nothing to do with right and wrong.


Right. It’s a “functional part”. You can’t copyright functional parts, at least not in the US. (There’s a special deal for boat hulls.) This issue has been argued in Congress between the automakers and the auto parts industry. The parts industry won.