My team has invested thousands of hours in documenting how to repair Apple hardware. Starting in 2004 with our very first set of repair guides for the venerable PowerBook G3 series (God bless the Pismo), we have steadily, inexorably, carefully, taken apart every single Mac we could get our hands on.
We now have manuals for 91 Mac models, 34 iPods, and a couple of iPhones. Together, our media servers currently host 154,556 images (including revision history and thumbnails) and over 1,000 step-by-step guides.
Today, we are giving all that content to the world. Effective immediately, we are licensing all iFixit repair manuals under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. To my knowledge, this is the largest free release of repair documentation ever. We are committing to make our repair manuals available to everyone in the world, forever, for free.
When we told Creative Commons what we were planning, they got really excited. “iFixit manuals provide users the information they need to extend the life of and add value to their hardware without involving the manufacturer. Similarly, it’s great to see iFixit offer users the legal right to add value to iFixit manuals — to share and remix in any medium, notably including translation — by publishing under a Creative Commons license,” said Mike Linksvayer, Vice President of Creative Commons.
Lawrence Lessig, co-founder of Creative Commons and a long-time iFixit user, has also given his blessing. “iFixit is one of the most important community driven technology resources on the net. It is wonderful to now see them build their community by giving back to the community what the community helped build. As iFixit extends beyond the world of Mac, that community will only grow, and strengthen the practical knowledge which repair content provides. I am extraordinarily proud that Creative Commons can help make this innovation possible.”
What does this mean?
If you meet the conditions of the license, you can reproduce, modify, and redistribute our repair content to your heart’s content—including photos, text, and PDFs.
Why are we doing this?
Because we must. Because the world cannot continue wantonly manufacturing and consuming devices without a plan for their long-term lifecycle. Because individuals need the ability to take control of their devices and their environmental footprint. And because it’s the right thing to do.
All future content posted to iFixit, either by us or by our users, will be open-licensed.
We will be providing a XML data dump of our repair manuals sometime in the middle of next year. We are in the process of finalizing a new repair manual XML schema (if you want input on the process, please contact us). We hope to host the data archive at the Internet Archive as well as seed it via BitTorrent.
What’s Creative Commons?
The Creative Commons organization was created by a team of legal scholars including Lawrence Lessig, a legal genius (and long-time iFixit user!) who solved the need to provide a gradient for content licensing in situations like ours, where we want our content to be as free as possible.
What if I want to improve your guides?
You are welcome to copy them elsewhere and modify them, but the improvements will reach more people if we pool our efforts. We will be allowing anyone to edit and improve our repair manuals on iFixit.com very soon.
Can I translate your manuals into (Spanish, German, Esperanto, etc.)?
You would not believe how often we get offers to translate our repair manuals. There is a huge pent-up demand for localized repair documentation. We plan to make that happen. Our repair manual framework has built-in internationalization support, but it’s not quite done yet. To be honest, it probably won’t be done until at least the end of 2010. In the meantime, there are three things you can do:
- Translate our manuals and post them on your site. You can do this right now, and as long as you comply with the attribution and noncommercial aspects of the license, you’re free to do whatever you like.
- Sign up to be a translator. We’ll be pulling people from this list to alpha-test our internationalization platform.
- Promote iFixit inside your country / region. The more demand we have for a given language, the sooner we will be able to support it.
Why do you restrict commercial use?
We admit it — we have to pay the bills. Selling parts is how we do that. We have parts competitors that would prefer it if we weren’t around. (In fact, one of those competitors rebranded our manuals, publishing them as their own without attribution.) We want to be able to afford to write new manuals, and the noncommercial requirement allows us to do that.
What’s the licensing for journalists?
The Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license does not have specific support for journalists, but we are very willing to freely license our content to journalists. Reporters are free to use up to three attributed photos per story without contacting us. More generous licensing is readily available by contacting us, and we are almost always willing to grant journalists the same rights as noncommercial users.