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Re: Ongoing Firefox (and Thunderbird) Trademark problems

Thijs Kinkhorst <kink@squirrelmail.org> wrote:

(I've Cc:ed -project - I think this is a more philosophical issue)

> However, in #4, an explicit exception is made for program names and
> version numbers. They are not considered fundamental enough to software to
> require them to be as absolutely free as source code. So if we accept this
> exception for software coming in, why can't we accept this same exception
> for software derived from our distribution?

I think this argument is moderately persuasive. DFSG 4 allows a license
to require a name change on modification. If Debian is granted an extra
permission to keep the name the same, but that freedom is not passed on
to downstream recipients, is the license free? It could be argued that
DFSG 8 forbids that, but if Debian isn't granted that freedom then the
license /is/ free. I think any interpretation of the DFSG that results
in a free license becoming non-free if extra permissions are granted
(even if those permissions are only to some people) ought to be

Of course, it's not entirely clear what scope DFSG 4 has. If a
requirement to change the name is free, is a requirement to change
name-related branding? I'd think that logos /ought/ to be covered under
DFSG 4, but it's not made explicit.

> It might be beneficial though to have an agreement with MoFo that allows
> for downstreams of Debian to also use the name, as long as they only
> modify the package in ways similar to Debian. If you have a downstream
> that just copies, or copies-and-fixes-bugs, this would surely be just as
> acceptable to MoFo, right?

There's some issue of trust here. The Mozilla Foundation believes that
Debian is able to produce packages of equivalent quality to their own,
and so doesn't worry about us tainting their image. That's not
necessarily true of our downstreams (and, let's face it, not all
Debian-derived distributions are of equal quality)

Matthew Garrett | mjg59-chiark.mail.debian.devel@srcf.ucam.org

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