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Re: Firefox/Thunderbird trademarks: a proposal

On Wed, 19 Jan 2005 23:14:34 +0000, Gervase Markham <gerv@mozilla.org> wrote:
> Replace "the name of the package will have to be changed in all
> as-yet-unreleased versions of Debian" with "permission to use the
> trademarks will be withdrawn for all as-yet-unreleased versions of Debian".
> That should deal with the issue were MJ felt it was more like a contract
> than a permissions grant.

With this change, I really think this is a well conceived legal cover
for both Debian and the Mozilla Foundation.  It recognizes that Debian
has a QA and bug tracking process with the kind of continuity and
transparency that allows the Foundation to take a gentle, hands-off
approach.  It doesn't bend DFSG #7 any more than is absolutely
necessary to establish the Foundation's awareness of and reliance on
Debian's care for the quality of the software being shipped under
Mozilla trademarks.

I do think that maintenance of a trademark on a software product
necessarily bends DFSG #3 a little, but much less than the exception
granted in DFSG #4 does.  The proposed terms don't require Debian, or
anyone else, to change the name when creating a derived work; they
just create a "safe space" within which the Foundation gives its
affirmative blessing to processes which Debian has statutory rights to
follow anyway (IMO, IANAL).

I think it would be appropriate to rely on that safe space a little,
ship Firefox as mozilla-firefox*.deb with the Foundation's approval,
and keep an eye on their relations with other packagers.  If it looks
like the Foundation is unreasonably withholding similar terms from
packagers with similarly trustworthy processes, then DFSG #8 is being
violated and Debian should disclaim such approval.  (This may or may
not involve changing package names, depending on what advice we can
get on Coty standards and their international equivalent.)

After all, pursuing someone for misappropriation of trademark is not
that different from protesting a violation of "moral rights" of the
author in a country which recognizes them -- and no license can waive
those moral rights.  So there are, in some jurisdictions, unavoidable
asterisks on #3, and shipping any modified work of authorship relies
on the implied consent of the author, which is an informal asterisk on
#7.  So long as the Foundation's policy is empirically about the facts
of Debian's processes rather than special treatment for Debian qua
Debian, I think DFSG #8 is being substantially honored.

I hope I don't need to say that I have no relationship to the Mozilla
Foundation other than as a happy user of Firefox and other Mozilla
components on three platforms including Debian.  I'd like to see the
Mozilla Foundation's sincere efforts honored, with DFSG #4 as a
yardstick for the permissible scale of compromise.  I anticipate
closer attention to trademark concerns by many upstreams, and this
would make a good precedent for future dealings with, say, MySQL,
RedHat, and the Apache Software Foundation.

Besides, DIAMF is hard to type.

- Michael

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