Like so many things in the Open Source World, concepts are defined by the community, the group, and the practitioners of a concept.
Open Source Hardware is an ideal, that many people have come to shape and grow.
Just recently, there's been a huge amount of energy put into building a common set of terms about what "Open Source Hardware" is, so that a license can be built. There have been fits and starts over the years, and even a recent attempt to try to find a way for the Free Software Foundation, and the Creative Commons to extend their licenses to include hardware... but they were ultimately unsuccessful.
Part of the reason they weren't successful, is because there's something kind of ironic with the idea of creating a license, which is usually meant to protect *against* something, for a set of schematic files which you're intentionally *giving away*.
The first step, of course, is to at least agree about what Open Source Hardware actually is, because it's not that straight forward. So on September 23rd, later this year, a bunch of guys I know from Boston are going to head down to NYC to attend:
The Open Source Hardware Summit
World Fair Grounds
47-01 111th Street
Queens, NY 11368
And there, we'll beat up the emerging definition, which is listed here at FreedomDefined.org.
September 23rd... if you want to car pool with me down to NYC, just let me know, Justin and I will be there...