European IP Helpdesk


Bulletin No. 2 Go-to-Market

on their content. The Joinup licensing assistant enables copyright owners to quickly identify suitable licences for distributing their software or data. Unlike other tools considering just permissions, obligations and prohibitions if any, the Joinup licensing assistant adds three important categories: the level of compatibility or interoperability, the legal aspects, and the support that could be expected.

In addition, and that is the true novelty, the tool allows for licences to be retrieved based on a content analysis taxonomy (where each category is documented). Based on users’ comments and experience, categories may also evolve and be adapted.

Following the feedback of the Joinup community, users can now also compare up to five licences (i.e. the licence terms) and view the comparison results side-by-side.

The Internet of Things and the European Public Licence a Perfect Couple?

An interview with Dr Martin Orozco Serrano, Coordinator of the Horizon 2020 project FIESTA-IoT on his experience using the EUPL.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is characterised by heterogeneity. Different vertical sectors (e.g. healthcare, smart cities, energy and transportation) employ domain-specific technology solutions that cannot interoperate with each other. These vertical specific solutions have created clusters (or islands) of technology and data silos that cannot be used in other domains or indeed across domains.

Therefore, there is a growing need to develop and experiment with technology solutions that break and bridge these barriers. Such experimentation requires large-scale, heterogeneous IoT resources from across domains that can be accessed through a common “Experimentation-as-a-Service” (EaaS) approach.

The EU-funded FIESTA-IoT project had set out to deliver the EaaS paradigm, i.e. the action of sharing and reusing data between multiple IoT-enabled testbed infrastructures. FIESTA-IoT has used the European Union Public License (EUPL) to realise the objective of having a fully open source-based project.

In this interview, project coordinator Dr Martin Orozco Serrano from the National University of Ireland Galway explains how the decision on the EUPL came about and how his experience has helped him with even beyond the project scope.

Could you briefly describe the idea behind the FIESTA-IoT project?

FIESTA-IoT provides tools, techniques, processes and best practices enabling IoT testbed/platforms operators to

interconnect their facilities in an interoperable way based upon cutting-edge semantics-based solutions.

Thus, the main objective of FIESTA-IoT is to open new horizons in the development and deployment of IoT applications and run experiments not only at EU level, but globally, based on the interconnection and interoperability of diverse IoT platforms and testbeds. FIESTA-IoT creates the opportunity for experimenters to access data resources from different platforms. Since every platform has its own data format and its own way to describe resources, the overall objective of the project is to homogenise the accessibility to those data resources. It is important to emphasise that the aim of the FIESTA-IoT project is to homogenise the access to data rather than standardise those data resources.

What challenges were you facing in terms of IP licensing and how did the EUPL come into play?

One of the major challenges in the FIESTA-IoT project, and also other projects looking to provide blueprint implementations that serve as best practice reference, is to decide which existing software licence to adopt. For us, the difficulty was to set the correct copyright and define the ‘freedoms’ to use and reuse any code that was put forward for experimental, testing or commercial purposes. As our consortium consisted of both private and public organisations, the discussion about the copyright and the legal norms of the developed software was something that motivated the search for a suitable free open source license (FOSS). The decision was taken not only to enhance accessibility to FIESTA-IoT’s applications and services for any partner in the consortium, but also to develop software and its protection through copyright law. The difficulty to choose the appropriate software licence stemmed primarily from the different Open Source Licences existing in the market with different support communities behind them.

How did the EUPL help you in dealing with IPR issues in FIESTA-IoT?

In the project, some licences had already been adopted but not yet released. The fact that the EUPL is compatible with a multitude of other licences was a big advantage in this case, as it permitted the team to adopt the EUPL as the licence used in the project. Thus, this characteristic was one of the principal

reasons that motivated EUPL adoption. The main advantages of the EUPL vis-à-vis other FOSS licences are mainly its 1) interoperability, 2) ease of adoption and 3) the compatibility with other licences that exist.

As the EUPL was compatible with other licences used in the project such as GNU General Public Licence (GPL) and the GNU Lesser GPL (LGPL), the use of the EUPL helped the team achieve the objective of having a fully open source-based project. The fact that in the FIESTA-IoT project various components were released under GPL or GNU LGPL, made the compatibility feature of the EUPL a major advantage which allows not only the inclusion of components but also the release of new components under the EUPL, making the software fully compatible. More briefly, all the derivative work could be integrated under one single licence.

Have you experienced any difficulties when using the EUPL?

The major challenges that were overcome with the EUPL were the issue of compatibility and interoperability. The use of the EUPL allowed different project stakeholders that work with different FOSS licences to collaborate. However, the compatibility clause of the EUPL, which does not allow for the changing of the licence of a covered component, generated some confusion for the project stakeholders.

For the project team it was difficult to discern whether the clause was applicable to new derived work or to new work performed over project works with previous compatible licences. The main confusion was how the derivative work will be affected by this. Generally speaking, it is important for the EUPL to avoid leaving too much room for interpretation in its descriptions and clauses.

The interview was originally published on Joinup.

About ISA²

Both the EUPL and the Joinup initiative are supported by the European Commission‘s ISA² programme.

ISA² is a EUR 131 million programme supporting the modernisation of public administrations in Europe through the development of eGovernment interoperability solutions. More than 100 solutions are already available, and can be software, data models, specification, architectures, studies, etc.). All solutions are available free of charge to any interested public administration in Europe and all software produced is open source.

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