Re: Mozilla and Trademarks
Scripsit Gervase Markham <email@example.com>
> Is DFSG 8 actually a problem here?
> "The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program's
> being part of a Debian system. If the program is extracted from Debian
> and used or distributed without Debian but otherwise within the terms
> of the program's license, all parties to whom the program is
> redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in
> conjunction with the Debian system."
> Is it understood that this applies to all rights which go with the
> program, and not just copyrights?
It is commonly understood to include all the rights that we (on that
particular day of the week) deem necessary to pass the other points
of the DFSG. In particular, the DFSG as such is not exclusively about
copyright, though copyright is usually the most likely legal
instrument that can cause users to be denied the rights guaranteed in
the DFSG. (Patents are number 2, but they have to be handled specially
because most of them are bogus and/or not actively enforced).
Interpreting DSFG #8 fully literally leads to the ridiculous situation
that an upstream author could force us to remove a package by
"You, the user, may copy and/or distribute this program under the
terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2. As a special
exception you are also allowed to distribute binaries without
source, but only as part of official Debian GNU/Linux mirrors or
so it has to be applied with a bit of discretion and common sense.
In the case of Mozilla software, I understand that the trademarks in
question are sprinkled fairly liberally throughout the source code, to
the degree where it would be significantly more onerous for a user to
remove them when he wants to modify the source, than it would be for a
Debian developer to just modify the source under some kind of
understanding with you. I don't think we can sneak that past DFSG #8
with our conscience unscratched.
> Even if it is, distribution outside the Debian system with the
> trademarks attached would still have to conform to all applicable
> laws, including trademark law - although it's not Debian's
> responsibility to enforce that.
We don't have any responsibility *to you* to enforce trademark on our
users, no. But we have a responsibility to *our users* to not
distribute something to them that *they* cannot change easily in a
> In other words, distribution both inside and outside of Debian would
> require equally a trademark agreement.
Yes, but this creates a direct conflict with the spirit embedded in
DSFG #8. As you point out, if *we* find that for doing our business of
packaging and redistributing the software (in whatever form we choose
to redistribute it) we need to negotiate a trademark agreement, then
*our users* will need it equally if they choose to do the same thing
as we do.
And the basic principle expressed by DFSG #8 is exactly that we'll
select our software carefully exactly such that any user who wants to
do the same thing as we do *will not* need to negotiate any agreements
with people upstream of us.
FWIW, I too think we're headed for iceweasel here. Not because we
ourselves are planning or wishing to lower the quality of our packages
below the quality expected by Mozilla, but because we're adamant about
defending the right of our users to do so.
We might, additionally, want to provide a "firefox" package in
non-free which is empty and does nothing else than depending on
"iceweasel", to give people with non-free in sources.list the benefit
of "apt-get install firefox" (but of course this can only happen if
the Mozilla people are okay with it, because installing any web
browser in response to "apt-get install firefox" will certainly be
covered by their trademark). This package might additionally provide a
/usr/bin/firefox symlink, but my immediate suspicion is that such a
symlink can be provided by iceweasel - and our users' evil mutated
iceweasels - without running afoul of Mozilla's trademark rights.
Henning Makholm "Ambiguous cases are defined as those for which the
compiler being used finds a legitimate interpretation
which is different from that which the user had in mind."