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Re: Ongoing Firefox (and Thunderbird) Trademark problems

* Wouter Verhelst (wouter@debian.org) wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 14, 2005 at 03:05:20PM -0400, Eric Dorland wrote:
> > * Adrian von Bidder (avbidder@fortytwo.ch) wrote:
> > > As I understand DSFG 8, this covers only the case that the firefox package 
> > > distributed by Debian *as is* must still be usable legally when used 
> > > outside Debian.
> > 
> > Come on, that can't possibly be the intention. I could craft a license
> > that says "you have all the rights of the BSD license, as long as your
> > code is exactly the same as it is in Debian". That would be
> > insane. 
> Yes, but it's not relevant to the case at hand.

Why is it irrelevant?
> In the firefox case, people say "You have all the rights of the license;
> and as long as it's in Debian or it's not modified, you may call it
> firefox".

Exactly. How is that permissible under DFSG #8.

> Your example isn't even close to that.
> > The first sentence goes "The rights attached to the program must not depend
> > on the program's being part of a Debian system.". Clearly if we
> > accepted the MoFo proposal, the program would have more rights within
> > Debian than without, and wouldn't be compatible with DFSG #8.
> First, a program doesn't have any right. People do.

Yes, my phrasing was slightly off. It should say... the program would
have more rights attached to it within Debian than without. I think
the meaning was still clear.
> Second, this trademark business has nothing to do with the program's
> license. Trademarks licenses and software licenses are two entirely
> distinct beasts, and you shouldn't even attempt to mix them.

I don't recall saying or implying they were the same thing. 

> The DFSG talks about software licenses. It does not talk about patents
> (which is a problem), and it does not talk about trademarks either
> (which I don't think is a problem, but I don't know whether other people
> feel the same way). A trademark license simply /is not an issue/ with
> regards to Free Software; whether you're allowed to use a trademark or
> not has no impact on whether or not you're allowed to modify, study, or
> redistribute the software. As such, it cannot make the license non-free.

Just because the DFSG was developed only within the context of
software licenses, it doesn't mean their principles don't apply to
other things. Let's construct an analogy using patents. Company X
releases foowhizbang under a BSD license. But contained within
foowhizbang is their patented algorithm, which they're actively
enforcing against anyone who distributes their own complied
binaries. Except they've granted the Debian project an
exception. Would we distribute this software? Even though we're not
discussing a software license, I think the principles behind the DFSG
would mean we would not distribute this software. I hope the parallels
I'm drawing are clear.

Now, I haven't claimed Firefox's trademark makes it non-free. My
question is whether I can use the trademark in Debian. If I look at
the Mozilla Trademark Policy, I cannot. Now MoFo has agreed to extend
us permission to use the mark. I don't think we should accept that
permission. We shouldn't be making deals purely in our own self
interest. That's what DFSG #8 is all about. 

Eric Dorland <eric.dorland@mail.mcgill.ca>
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