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GPLv3 defines a "User Product" as a:

A “User Product” is either (1) a “consumer product”, which means any tangible personal property which is normally used for personal, family, or household purposes, or (2) anything designed or sold for incorporation into a dwelling. In determining whether a product is a consumer product, doubtful cases shall be resolved in favor of coverage. For a particular product received by a particular user, “normally used” refers to a typical or common use of that class of product, regardless of the status of the particular user or of the way in which the particular user actually uses, or expects or is expected to use, the product. A product is a consumer product regardless of whether the product has substantial commercial, industrial or non-consumer uses, unless such uses represent the only significant mode of use of the product.

I'm wondering if industrial HMI devices fall under this definition of "User Product". For those that are unaware, HMI devices are typically used in industrial factories and/or other commercial uses. Here are a few examples from Rockwell and Schneider.

What stumps me is the term "HMI" is quite vague. Some people would consider thermostats to be an "HMI", which typically is found into a dwelling. However, I feel like industrial HMIs are a distinct product, separate from those typically found in a dwelling. I suppose it is possible for someone to use one of these devices to control their home A/C unit, however, this feels like a significant mode of use. Am I correct in my reasoning?

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  • Which, GPL or lgpl? Aug 19 at 2:56
  • In your second link, the product descriprion mentions "also for end users looking for maintenance of their Web devices" so that could be an argument in favour of that one being a User Product under definition (2) of User Product. Maybe that's not how users normally use that product, so definition (1) of User Product is not satisfied, but if that is mentioned in the desctiption, one could argue that it was designed for a dwelling as well, if it refers to an end user with Web devies in the home.
    – Brandin
    Aug 22 at 13:21
  • I recommend you carefully read the description of User Product, with a lawyer if it affects your business. (2) says "(2) anything designed or sold for incorporation into a dwelling." So, potentially if a product is marketed in a certain way, you could argue that it was sold for the purpose of installing it into a dwelling, so that would make it a User Product, even if the product is not typically used that way.
    – Brandin
    Aug 22 at 13:29
  • @planetmaker, I'm specifically asking for lgpl, but I don't think it matters. The definition is in gpl, but lgpl uses the same definition. Aug 22 at 18:55

2 Answers 2

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The term HMI is short for "Human Machine Interface". As such it is indeed too generic to tell if it refers to a User Product as defined by the GPL.

What you need to look at is what kind of system the HMI provides an Interface to. If that is a system geared towards home usage, then the HMI would be (part of) a User Product. If it is intended for an industrial setting, then not.

That means that your reasoning is correct.

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if you would never personally consider to use this device at home - maybe instead of an iPad or an Adroid tablet or TVSet and..

...if you would possibly not change your mind towards considering it a user product even if you were able to privately purchase the device in an electronic shop ...

My answer would be that it shall be NO USER PRODUCT. The GPLv3 paragraph had nothing else in mind than fighting true consumer products like the Tivo STB at the point in time. disclaimer: I am not a lawyer...

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  • and it is a shame that the FSF sold out to industrial equipment manufacturers when writing this clause.
    – user253751
    Aug 24 at 5:46
  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Aug 24 at 7:31
  • You typically cannot buy the HMIs I'm describing at BestBuy or something like that. I'm having trouble deciphering what you're saying, but it sounds like you're saying given this product isn't typically found in a home and you cannot buy this from an electronic shop, this is not a user product. Thanks. Aug 29 at 18:24

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