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Re: Mozilla and Trademarks

On Sat, Jan 01, 2005 at 07:49:15PM +0000, Gervase Markham wrote:
> Joel Aelwyn wrote:
> > First, having such a trademark license establishes the Mozilla project
> > as an arbiter of package quality for a Debian package.
> Indeed. With all the caveats that you state, then yes, when it comes 
> down to it, it does. It has to, in order for us to claim that we're 
> maintaining our trademark as a mark of quality.

At least we agree on the intent; whether or not Debian can accept that is,
of course, a matter for discussion. But I'm glad to establish that bounding

> > Second, with all due respect to the current Mozilla project, even if
> > we trust that they are reasonable enough, today, to not worry about
> > the first point, do we trust that *the holder of the trademark* will
> > be reasonable enough *for as long as we want to distribute the
> > package*? If it somehow got sold, well, the new TM holder could be
> > make life very unpleasant (OK, so this is true for any trademark, but
> > given Mozilla's heritage and the commercial interest in web browsers,
> > I have to consider it more of a risk that this might happen for them,
> > than for JoeBob's AlienKiller game).
> Again, a fair point. Although the impact of this event is arguably less 
> than the same issue with a code licence. After all, if the code licensor 
> (e.g. UWash) goes bad on you, that's the end of the package. If the 
> trademark licensor goes bad, you just need to make some modifications to 
> the package. (There may be issues with the actual package name here, but 
> let's leave that for now.) Said modifications are pretty easy to make in 
> our case (Netscape makes them, for example, to rebrand.)

The impact is, indeed, less; the worst case of a copyright license produces
an undistributable package, while the worst case with a trademark (unless
it is somehow tied into other bits) is that we have to purge any relevant
pieces of the package, which may, or may not, render the rest of it "not
terribly useful" (in the case of Mozilla, it seems likely to remain quite
useful, even if that purge could involve a fair bit of effort).

> > Third, to be honest, while I appreciate (and, in fact, am flattered
> > by) the implication that Mr. Markham, and presumably some significant
> > portion of the rest of the Mozilla project,
> Well, I speak for myself, insofar as I'm permitted discretion to 
> negotiate on trademark issues. I don't speak for any other named people 
> in the project in this matter :-)

So noted.

> > feel that Debian's QA track record is
> > sufficiently good to allow us some amount of extra leeway in the
> > question of quality packages, it smacks of a Debian-specific license,
> > something which is explicitly forbidden by the DFSG.
> 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? 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. In other words, 
> distribution both inside and outside of Debian would require equally a 
> trademark agreement.

I think the key here is the 'Guidelines' part. Personally, I take a
fairly broad interpretation of what "rights" must be available to those
we distribute to, though it must, of course, always be bounded by common
sense. However, the intent of DFSG #8 is that I, as a member of Debian,
can hand my housemate, a Debian user, a copy of the full distribution, and
he can turn around and do anything with it that the Debian Project did in
the first place - including "make modifications to packages", "establish
a bug tracking service", "translate package names", "compile for other
architectures"... whatever he wants to do, within the same bounds that we
as a project operate.

If there are concrete terms which allow the use of a trademark ("you must
pass this test suite", "you must hop on one foot for 2 hours a day", "your
first name must be Fred") which the project can reasonably meet, and expect
it's users to meet (in practice, this strikes down cases 2 and 3; expensive
test suites will probably strike down 1, but free ones probably wouldn't),
then it isn't likely to be an issue.

While the Community variant appears to provide this to others on the same
grounds that we get it, it runs up against the question of "are we willing
to abide by those terms?". If yes, great, DFSG #8 is satisfied; if not,
any rights given to Debian must be transferrable or otherwise available
to anyone getting a copy from us (or from them, and so on), in general.
As you can see in past archives from this list, this has caused issues
with Debian's *own* official trademarks/logos which require some effort to
resolve (and are the reason for the Unofficial logo).

> > After all, "our users" can and
> > do include people making other distributions (just look at the CDD
> > stuff). If we, as Debian, can do something that our users can't, with
> > the software in our archive, then it can go, at best, into non-free.
> True again - there are certainly practical difficulties here with 
> Debian-based distributions, all of which would probably need their own 
> trademark licence if they wanted to modify before redistribution.

As above; this is not (inherently) a problem, as long as the *same*
trademark license is available to anyone who wants to use it, under
the same terms, either by transit or public availability (but since we
distribute to anyone, transit effectively becomes public...), *and* we
decide those terms are ones we can abide by in both practicality and good

[ trim of an accord with origional message; nothing more to be said ]

I believe other details have been explained by other replies, as well.
Really, the most concrete answer I can give to the DFSG #8 question is
"It feels underhanded to let Debian use the trademark and not pass that
along, just because they like us."

Mind you, I don't think I'd necessarily have an issue with "To use this
trademark, you must run a publically reviewable bug tracking system and
implement some form of version management" (I might still, on a question
of practicality, or even a basic question of "Does this make it a required
cost of the software, and is that OK?", but it would be a matter of another
debate entirely, at that point).
Joel Aelwyn <fenton@debian.org>                                       ,''`.
                                                                     : :' :
                                                                     `. `'

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