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Re: Linux mark extortion

On 6/17/05, Bruce Perens <bruce@perens.com> wrote:
>  Well, Linus purpose here is to keep people from using the mark for stuff
> that isn't Linux at all, and to keep someone from attempting to appropriate
> the mark and restrict others from doing so.
>  It's just the implementation that sucks.

I suspect that there's more to it than "stuff that isn't Linux at
all".  The "lock customers in by tweaking the APIs they implement
their drivers against" situation in embedded Linux is a real mess, and
I really hope that he plans to do something about that.  But I agree
that the implementation you describe isn't very friendly to Linus's
code-for-code's-sake roots.

>  This was done by OSDL lawyers or Gervaise Davis' law firm and they just
> didn't bother to consider us. Maddog administers this for Linus, and it's
> not clear to me what he was thinking in going this far without bringing
> Debian in for at least a look over the terms.
>  I think we need to marshall our objections to bring them to Maddog as a
> group.

How about having an alternate proposal well baked first, with some
evidence that Debian as a whole would accept it?  The Mozilla
Foundation has been trying to engage constructively with debian-legal
for some time on similar help-us-keep-our-trademark-alive issues, with
limited success.  It is of course the Firefox maintainer's call, but
he seems to value (quite properly) the opinions of other DD's.

There is at least a vocal minority that prefers the
screw-MoFo-we-don't-need-their-stinking-trademarks approach, which
strikes me as shortsighted even though the Mozilla folks have bent
over backwards to make it practical.  There may be a third way -- not
a trademark license as such but a unilateral declaration from the
trademark holder that "here is the safety zone" for continued use of
the mark to describe modified versions.  I don't know how much
precedent there is for considering this adequate oversight for
trademark purposes (ask a real lawyer) but it seems to me to be better
aligned with the DFSG.

- Michael

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