Next Generation Internet Zero: PET and Discovery
What will the Internet of the future look like? The European Commission's (EC) Next Generation Internet Initiative (NGI) envisioned an Internet that is accessible and diverse, and respects the fundamental value of privacy. Here at the FSFE, we believe that Free Software is key to accomplish this vision, so that all people, regardless of their background, are able to use the Internet as an effective tool to achieve their full potential.
To that end, from November 2018 to November 2022, the FSFE was a partner organisation of Next Generation Internet Zero (NGI0), which is a coalition of thirteen non-profit organizations from all over Europe coordinated by the NLnet Foundation. Coming under the overall NGI umbrella, the purpose of this NGI0 consortium was to provide financial grants and technical support to researchers and developers who are working on Free Software solutions that contribute to the establishment of the Next Generation Internet.
During this time period, we assisted in two distinct grant giving programs:
- The NGI0 Privacy and Trust Enhancing Technologies program awards grants to applicant software projects that work to enhance privacy and trust.
- The NGI0 Search and Discovery program awards grants to applicant technologies that enhance user access to search for and discover information on the internet.
Helping Free Software Developers Through NGI0
During our involvement with NGI0, we dealt with a total of 296 software projects from both NGI0 PET and NGI0 Discovery. As part of the technical assistence rendered to these NGI0 participating software projects, we assisted them with their legal and licensing needs, as well as helping them in their transitions when adopting our REUSE specifications as best practices for displaying licensing and copyright information.
"We are always listening to developers to learn how we can best assist them. While the project certainly had some growing pains in the beginning, feedback from the developers has been incredibly valuable for us to refine our workflow over the course of the NGI0 initiative, to make the experience for all participants as fruitful and collaborative as possible.”
Gabriel Ku Wei Bin, FSFE Senior Legal Project Manager
REUSE as the Backbone of NGI0 Assistance
A significant part of our work in the NGI0 initiative has been to assist participating software projects with adopting our REUSE specifications. Code that implements these specifications is able to be easily machine read, allowing copyright and licensing information contained therein to be verified automatically without manual intervention. This allows the code to be quickly and safely adopted by individuals, public bodies, and private enterprises of any size.
Over the course of NGI0, we guided participating software projects to implement these REUSE specifications. This has included working directly with their repositories to better improve how the licensing and copyright information contained in their repositories is displayed, so that any adopters of their work in the future can more easily comply with these license and copyright obligations.
Providing Guidance on Legal and Licensing Issues
Many participating software projects also had legal questions pertaining to the various licenses relevant to their work. While the FSFE assists them with the more basic questions, they also received guidance and advice on more complex legal issues from another NGI0 partner organization, the Institute for Legal Issues regarding Free and Open Source Software, or ifrOSS. Together with ifrOSS, we have provided guidance with inquiries on a variety of topics, including inquiries related to license implementation and compatibility issues, dependency management, managing external contributions, licensing scanning tools, trademark issues, potential licensing violations, and hardware licenses.
To support this, we have also developed a series of FAQs to help developers understand legal topics related to Free Software.
FSFE's Continuing Commitment to Helping Free Software Developers
Our work with the NGI0 initiative has been a great success, as we've managed to help so many developers working on software that will solve a diverse range of problems have a better understanding of Free Software licenses, compliance issues, and how best to prevent these from occurring if they adopt our REUSE specifications. Spreading such knowledge and awareness among developers helps to create a more robust and healthy Free Software ecosystem. Indeed, working with REUSE through the NGI0 initiative has been a learning experience for the FSFE ourselves.
One of the areas where the FSFE is committed to providing guidance for developers is in the legal and licensing sphere. On this front, the FSFE has since 2009 coordinated a network of legal professionals in the field of Free Software, and provided them with a forum for cutting edge legal discussions. It is through the help of this network of experts that we have been able to develop initiatives such as REUSE, which makes it easier for developers to fulfill their Free Software legal and licensing obligations without necessarily having to become experts themselves, even after their involvement with NGI0 has come to a close.
Positive Reactions from NGI0 Participating Projects
"NGI0 not only made it possible to pursue our goals by supplying funding. I was approached a number of times by professionals whom I learned to respect for their knowledge and concrete support, ranging from security to usability, internationalisation, licensing, and copyrighting, and putting wat we do in a perspective of inclusiveness and diversity. Their help will go a long way to improve our products and I am sure to seek out other partners to the NGI0 project before we are done.”
Joop Ringelberg, Perspectives-core Project
Our Free Software developer needs were understood and met with minimal frictions… With audits, this NGI0 support went further than just allowing us to spend more time working on the project, they taught us how to improve it. The FSFE REUSE team even contributed actual code with a regular merge-request, in a perfect illustration of “them” teaming up with us!”
Simon Descarpentires, Meta-Press.es Project
"The REUSE framework simplifies the declaration and management of different licenses in your own project, and thus clearly enables everybody to reuse Free Software. The addition of REUSE header and software license information to our Neuropil project went smoothly and painlessly. The main work was carried out with a simple merge request over a diverse set of source code files, external libraries and documentation. A big thank you from the team for the FSFE’s contribution!”
Stephan Schwichtenberg, Neuropil Project
"Regarding REUSE, we have learnt a lot. We realise that the idea behind REUSE is simple, clear, and powerful… Nowadays, Free Software projects become more and more complicated, and many components/files of a single project have different license/copyright information. REUSE helps a lot on tracking the status of this information in our project.”
Xianjun Jiao, OpenWifi Project