[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

right of publicity, or why no-advertising clauses are not necessary

I find no-advertising clauses like the following annoying:

  Except as contained in this notice, the name(s) of the above copyright
  holders shall not be used in advertising or otherwise to promote the
  sale, use or other dealings in this Software without prior written

They annoy me for a few reasons:

1) They're not necessary, at least in my jurisdiction, and I suspect not
   in most or all other jurisdictions of interest to Debian.

2) The right of publicity, unlike the distribution of copies of a work,
   is not an "exclusive right" that is retained by copyright holders
   under copyright law in my jurisdiction, and I suspect not in others,
   either.  Therefore, attaching such a restriction term to a copyright
   notice may very well be null and void.  A contract would have to be
   formed between the copyright holder and the user for this restriction
   to attach.

3) Perpetuating language like this in licenses just confuses innocent
   bystanders into putting irrelevant clauses into their own licenses.
   We do the community no favors by encouraging authors to misunderstand
   copyright, particularly through the ritualistic duplication of old

In the United States, there are several legal remedies available to
people whose names or likenesses are misappropriated for advertising or
promotional purposes.  The following web site enumerates some:


You'll note that none of these remedies are grounded on copyright law.
Copyright is irrelevant.

I would therefore like to make two requests of debian-legal:

A) Can folks in other countries help us find out if publicity rights are
   recognized there?  Does any jurisdiction in the world automatically
   grant copyright licensees permission to use the copyright holder's
   name or likeness in advertising or publicity?

B) If we find that most jurisdictions of interest to Debian handle
   publicity rights substantially as the U.S. does, can we please more
   actively discourage their use?

If my understanding is correct, let's get the word out that these
"license terms" are unnecessary and only promote confusion about

For what it's worth, I think the NetBSD Foundation has already reached
this conclusion, which is why they use a 2-clause form of the BSD
license, with both the compelled-advertising and no-advertising clauses

G. Branden Robinson                |     Reality is what refuses to go away
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     when I stop believing in it.
branden@debian.org                 |     -- Philip K. Dick
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: Digital signature

Reply to: