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Re: Some questions about trademark, copyright and dfsg

On Thu, 19 Feb 2015 08:22:34 +0100
"samuncle06@gmail.com" <samuncle06@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi everyone
> I'm a free software developer and I have several questions about dfsg,
> trademarks and copyright.
> 1) If I have an free software/open source project and I register its logo
> and name as a trademark. It seems legit for several reasons
> -> I want to promote and protect my brand. If someone modify the code it's
> fine but he or she should change the name of the project to avoid any
> confusion between the original project and fork (this doesn't seems
> contrary to open source software since it's the code which is open and
> available for everyone)
> -> can for instance debian distribute a modified version of my software
> with the original name ? It seems like a lie to me since your potential
> modifications might introduce bugs and issues I'm not responsible for. It
> gives to my project a bad picture.
> What's done to prevent this ?

Well, if you don't want Debian to do this, then Debian will rename the package. If you include scripts for renaming, this would be good, because it makes it more likely that people outside Debian will actually follow your trademark rules.

> -> imagine if someone modify debian and introduce bugs and doesn't change
> the name. It's your project that will have a bad reputation. It's not just
> a theoretical case but it happened in one of the project where I contribute.

Just curious, which project?

> 2) As a way to get funding and money. If a commercial company wants to
> support an open source project by becoming sponsor and include their logo
> in the software (for instance in an about menu or in the map of a game).
> Their logo and name are obviously trademarked and copyrighted. If I include
> this logo will my project be considered as dfsg friendly ? Considering the
> whole package except the logo and sponsors part are open and free for
> modifications.
> There is no way a company will "openly" allow their logo to be modified. In
> fact even debian protect its own logo.
> https://www.debian.org/trademark
> Does that mean open source and free software project can't include sponsor
> logo and company name ?

The Debian logo is freely licensed: https://www.debian.org/logos/index.en.html
There's a difference between granting copyright permission and granting trademark permission. Perhaps your sponsor could look into this idea?

If your sponsor's logo can't be modified, then it can't be in main. Generally, however, the packager will just decide to remove the logo if it doesn't have a free license. It's kind of a difficult topic, so you might want to see the discussion aroung the Bing logo being included in josm: https://lists.debian.org/debian-gis/2014/10/threads.html#00117

> 3) if a debian packager modify my software for any reason. Will they warn
> me about modifications ? Will they change the name to avoid any confusion
> between my original project and the "fork" made by debian ? Will they
> remove sponsor logo for instance without warning us ?

It is common courtesy to inform upstream of changes, and Debian endeavours to do so, but you can't include a condition like that in your license. Also, Debian will not *warn* you before modifications. Otherwise, how would security fixes be rolled out?

Yes, Debian will change the name if your trademark conditions require it, but if it is difficult, there might not be anyone willing to package your software at all.

If the logo isn't free, then it will be removed. If your sponsor would be uncomfortable with freely licensing their logo, how about writing a freely licensed text endorsement?

Finally, some notes:
-People on debian-legal do not have the power to change the DFSG. Such a change would require a constitutional amendment.
-You can still get a package into non-free even if it doesn't meet the DFSG
-Good luck with your project

Riley Baird

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