License for exported footprints from PCB file


The KiCad libraries are licensed under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0 License, with the following exception:

To the extent that the creation of electronic designs that use ‘Licensed Material’ can be considered to be ‘Adapted Material’, then the copyright holder waives article 3 of the license with respect to these designs and any generated files which use data provided as part of the ‘Licensed Material’.

Let’s say I publish one of my KiCad PCB designs on GitHub under an open source license like the CERN-OHL-P, MIT, etc. If someone downloads my PCB design and exports the footprints embedded in the .kicad_pcb to a new library, is the exported footprint library still licensed under the original KiCad license or is it now licensed under the new license my PCB design was released under?

(Edited, trying to clarify a bit.)

I’m not a lawyer or a representative of KiCad, but I believe the purpose of the library licence is to to keep the libraries open even after they have first been embedded into pcb designs and then taken back to be separate libraries/components. Therefore the new licence must be compatible with the original when the component is taken away from a design. If you can just re-licence the library under some licence, you can use that same licence after having used the component in a design. That should be a safe interpretation.

It’s important to understand that the KiCad exception clause is (AFAIK) invented for this specific purpose and isn’t probably confirmed by lawyers, let alone tried out in court.

I am not a lawyer, but the intent of the “adapted material” part is to cover use of the footprint on your PCB design. So, the footprint is adapted material as part of your design and not because you used it on your design. If someone extracts the footprint from your design, that extracted footprint is no longer part of your design and the original KiCad license should apply.


@craftyjon thank you for clarifying this!

I assume the same goes for the 3D model. One can redistribute .step model of a complete PCB with all the parts on it, but if you redistribute .step models on per part basis, these models are covered by CC-BY-SA 4.0 License?

Yes, that sounds correct.

This topic was automatically closed 90 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.