NetFPGA is a not-for-profit UK Community Interest Company (C.I.C.) supporting the community of academic, student, non-profit, industrial and hobbyist users of the open-source hardware-software designs such as the NetFPGA programmable networking platform. NetFPGA C.I.C. will act as a holder and licenser of open-source hardware-software designs, with a particular interest in research and teaching applications.
The NetFPGA open-source hardware-software license extends the Apache Software License with additional intellectual property types specific to hardware designs – e.g., mask rights – in order to better support open-source hardware. It is our hope that organisations such as Apache may accept open-source hardware as part of their remit in the future, both in terms of licenses and willingness to host open-source hardware projects, in which case working with an extended license might cease to be necessary.
The NetFPGA open-source hardware-software license agreement is derived from the Apache Software Foundation's Apache Software License 2.0, with minor modifications extending it to support additional intellectual property rights associated with hardware (e.g., mask rights). We have prepared a diff between the two open-source licenses for interested parties to inspect. The Apache Software Foundation guidance on documenting copyright and license in source files applies and will be used for all NetFPGA projects.
Community interest statement
The company's activities will provide benefit to... The community of academic, student, non-profit, industrial and hobbyist users of and contributors to the NetFPGA platform and other open-source hardware and software designs by holding and licensing common copyrights and other intellectual property under open-source terms.
Activities and related benefits
The company is being set up to... Hold and liberally license copyrights and other intellectual property for open-source hardware and software projects, supporting academic, student, non-profit, industrial, and hobbyist use world-wide.
The community will benefit as... The company will act as an intellectual property holder, receiving donated copyrights and other intellectual property from community members. It will license hardware and software designs as open source such that it can be used without charge by anyone in the world -- and especially by contributing members of the NetFPGA community. Unlike proprietary hardware and software designs, NetFPGA designs are intended to be used in academic and industrial research, as well as for teaching, student projects, and hobbiest use.