Revised Chumby License — response to feedback, and even more open

January 8, 2007

When we distributed chumby prototypes at FOO Camp, we asked recipients to give us feedback — on everything. Including on our possibly novel approach to “hardware open-ness” and the accompanying “Chumby SDK and HDK License Agreement” that described what was, and was not, permitted in hacking and modifying the chumby. We heard from several people that this agreement was unclear in some areas and lacking in others. And we took this feedback to heart in creating our new license.

Now many people probably couldn’t care less what a click-through license says, or whether it’s open or not — they use technology all the time that carries highly-restrictive licenses and don’t give it a second thought (do you really read all that fine print before you click on, “I ACCEPT”?) But a significant number of our early Chumby community cares deeply about the freedoms and permissions that are granted and withheld in the legal documentation that accompanies the products and services they use. We have tried to craft our new Chumby developer’s license in a way that is appealing to this group of people who do read these agreements closely and who are knowledgeable and realistic about what an enlightened license should say — and we have worked with several of these people in the development and vetting of this revised agreement. Undoubtedly, some people will never be happy with any legal document that attempts to constrain them in any way, and perhaps this license still won’t completely satisfy these folks.

But we specifically hope to appeal to our hacker friends who recognize that with Chumby we are attempting to expand greatly the level of developer freedom that accompanies their purchase of a piece of consumer electronics. To be clear, Chumby is a for-profit business with employees and shareholders, and naturally we need to protect some essential aspects of our business in order to continue to sell chumbys and to expand and improve what Chumby Industries does. But a fundamental part of our business strategy is to create an environment that allows creative people the freedom and incentive to innovate. We believe that our revised License accomplishes this.

You can read the license here: .

But for those who simply want to understand the intent of it, here is the “Introduction” part of the agreement that explains in clear language what the license is and what it isn’t:

“1. Introduction.

What this Agreement is:

Under this Agreement, as set out below, Chumby grants you a license to use the Chumby SDK and Chumby HDK to hack your Chumby Device. In return, we ask that you: keep the Chumby Service on an even playing field with any other service you want to point your Chumby Device to; grant us a license related to your modifications and derivatives, when and if you make them available to others; and agree to the other terms below.

What this Agreement is not:

This Agreement is about the materials we provide for people who want to hack their Chumby Devices. It is not about the widgets that run on your Chumby Device. We provide some widgets, and help people share widgets, on our website under the website terms of service at

This Agreement is not a license to some of the third-party code (such as Adobe® Flash® Lite™) that we are required to protect as proprietary software. See for a list of the code on your Chumby Device that is not included in the Chumby SDK.

This Agreement is not a license to use Chumby’s brand or to manufacture and sell Chumby Devices.

This Agreement does not modify your rights under the licenses for third-party free and open source software that runs on the Chumby Device.

Contact us if you want to do something different: Our goal is to give our Licensees latitude to modify their Chumby Devices and the Chumby software that runs on them, while preserving our business of running the Chumby Service. Our business and licensing models are under development, though, and we are open to talking about additional uses of our technology. So, if you have an idea that does not seem to be covered by these licenses, please contact Chumby.”


6 Responses to “Revised Chumby License — response to feedback, and even more open”

  1. chumz0r Says:


  2. what is the price $ and where can i get two if at or under $100 each? one to use and a spare to hack (the MAKEZINE hack)

    Douglas J Sasse
    P.O.Box 1064
    Mankato, Minnesota 56002-1064

  3. i’m losing my mind, and i don’t think it’s cleve. Zaid Bethanie.

  4. Gautam Asaf Says:

    now we are fussing and now we are fightin. Gautam Asaf.

  5. Pete Says:

    Uhh the license is page that you linked to does not exist. Where is it?

  6. […] I guess the biggest choice we made, from Day 1, was to make the chumby open in every way we could imagine. We recognize that some of you may disagree with what we’ve […]

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