Re: Debian trademark [was: Debian GNU/w32, may ready to be started?]
On Mon, 3 Dec 2001, Steve Langasek wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 03, 2001 at 03:43:09PM -0500, Dale Scheetz wrote:
<Some stuff deleted for brevity...>
> >> The policy statement on http://www.debian.org/News/1998/19980306a says:
> >> We allow all businesses to make reasonable use of the "Debian"
> >> trademark. For example, if you make a CD of our Debian GNU/Linux
> >> distribution, you can call that product "Debian". If you want to use
> >> the name in some other way, you should ask us first.
> >> IANAL, but to me, this seems to be only a statement of policy, not a
> >> license. There is no explanation of what Debian considers "reasonable"
> >> use, and the only license granted by this statement is that of using the
> >> Debian trademark when reselling the Debian GNU/Linux distribution on CD.
> >> A port of the OS to the cygwin environment represents a new product, not
> >> a reselling of our existing product, and without an explicit license,
> >> it's against trademark law tou se the Debian trademark on such a
> >> product; indeed, under trademark law, SPI could lose the trademark to
> >> dilution unless they pursue infringing uses of the trademark, even by
> >> Debian developers (!).
> > Debian developers are not some outside business. What goes into the Debian
> > project is limited by the DFSG only!
> Ah... except that there has not yet been an indication in the
> affirmative that this win32 port will be integrated into the Debian
> archive network. If there is no binary-cygwin/ directory on any of the
> Debian mirrors, if attempts to upload packages compiled for cygwin are
> rejected, then in what sense is this part of the Debian project? This
> seems to be the situation we have today, where work is being done on
> this cygwin port outside the framework of the Debian project; unless and
> until it is integrated into the Debian project, this port should not be
> using the Debian trademark without explicit approval.
Sorry, it was my impression that that issue was already resolved.
This changes things. My position is that there is no reason to reject this
So, it sounds like the people who will decide this are the DPL and the ftp
master. Can we hear something from them?
I ask this question is all sincerity: Has the DPL, or the ftp master ever
rejected a package that had a free license?
If the answer is no, then my question is, "why now?"
> Being an employee of Internet Express does not automatically empower me
> to use their trademarks as I see fit. The same principle applies to
> the Debian trademark.
> > This is just as much a Debian project as debhelp, apt-get, and other
> > utility projects. How is this different from them, asside from the obvious
> > fact that it is intended to run on a proprietary OS?
> You ask this question as if you believe it's self-evident that running
> on a propietary OS should be a non-issue when it comes to using the
> Debian trademark, or at the very least that any objections are
> surmountable. I think you will learn -- if you have not already -- that
> this is not an opinion that enjoys anything even close to universal
> acceptance within the Debian community. And even if it were, there are
> legal reasons why we should not allow the trademark to be used for
> projects not directly attached to Debian without an explicit license.
Thank you for your condecending tone. I was a developer before there was a
DFSG, and am painfully aware of the disfunctional fear of anything
non-free that is prevalent with DDs in general. I have always been, and
will continue to be in favor of maximal freedom without neurotic fear of
non-free contact. If you don't know this by now -- I think you will learn.
> >> If the coordinators of this cygwin port intend to use the Debian
> >> trademark, it's important to get official clarification early on for the
> >> sake of everyone involved. There's nothing wrong with granting a
> >> license to use the Debian name for this port, if that's the decision of
> >> SPI/Debian; but using the trademark in this manner without an explicit
> >> license is bound to cause hard feelings, whatever the eventual outcome.
> > So, where is the license for the arm, sparc, alpha, or for that matter the
> > i386 port? These are all Debian projects that are supported to one degree
> > or another by actual Debian developers who do the work. To argue that this
> > port is somehow different for it's target OS non-freeness is just silly.
> These ports are all operated under the oversight of the DPL, the ftp
> masters, and the Debian system administrators; as far as activities of
> the Debian project are concerned, they're about as official as you can
> get. Has there been any indication so far that the cygwin port will be
> integrated into the Debian archive? Frankly, I don't see how I could've
> missed /that/ decision: I would expect a thread at least as long as this
> one to result from such a controversial ruling. Rather, the cygwin port
> seems to be a self-hosting effort at the moment and for the foreseeable
There IS a license for the trademark, although I can't put my finger on it
at the moment. (actually I believe that the only license that was written
was for the Debian Logo...)
The only criterion I know for the use of the Debian Logo/Trademark is that
the "product" be "largely" Debian. I would submit that any product that is
DFSG free is a candidate for Debian distribution. The "packages" in
question are all already distributed by Debian with complete freedom to
modify and redistribute.
What components of the proposed deliverable fails to meet our criterion?
> Debian doesn't need to give itself a license to use its own
> trademark. An individual or group of individuals acting /outside/ the
> scope of Debian /do/ need a license, even if they are Debian developers.
If there is a license, its conditions apply to everyone uniformly,
whether DDs or not. As I understand the "license" conditions for this
trademark (well, the Logo anyway) only require that Debian packages
comprise the major portion of the delivered product.
So, this "port" could be delivered with the Debian Logo, but not be called
Debian? That's weird ;-)
> > If I construct a Debian Sparc CD designed and support to install on Sun
> > OS I would expect to be able to call it Debian.
> And unless you are aware of an existing license other than the one
> that's been referenced so far in this thread, you would equally be
> overstepping your authority to do so.
Not from my reading of the "license".
The purpose (at least for the logo) was to allow CD vendors to place their
own widgets (catalogs, helper scripts, etc.) on a Debian CD and still call
it a Debian CD.
I don't see any difference when delivering packages produced from Debian
source but compiled against a different set of libraries than the normal
> > The current port under dispute is a set of Debian packages designed and
> > compiled to run on M$ OS. Do we support the proprietary nature of Sun OS
> > by supplying software that runs on that OS?
> No, because except where binary compatibility between Linux and SunOS
> make this an implicit result of porting software to Linux on this
> operating system, Debian does *not* supply software that runs on SunOS.
> We provide source code that could be *compiled* for SunOS, but the use
> of the trademark is not automatically transferrable from one to the
Sparc Debian packages will install just fine on a SunOS Sparc that has the
proper libraries built against the Sun kernel, and has dpkg installed.
So, what keeps this from becoming part of Debian? Certainly not the DFSG,
and, as far as I know that is the only restriction on a package's entry
So, those developers working on this "port" need some special dispensation
for inclusion of the packages into the distro? In other words, what is the
difference between these packages coming into the distro as
cygwin-<package>, or going into a special tree named for the "port"?
Don't the developers doing the packaging get to decide whether it is
proper to upload it? I've never heard of the ftp manager rejecting a DFSG
compliant package uploaded by a DD. Why reject this port with less reason?
>  More properly, SPI
Yes, SPI is the "owner" of the Debian trademark. Do they distribute a
license for its use? I know we have one for the Logo...
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