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Re: GPL-2+ with additional trademark spice

Mihai Moldovan <ionic@ionic.de> writes:

> While working on a package (not yet part of Debian), I noticed the following
> copyright and license notice:

Thank you for posting the full text of the grant of license.

> # This copyrighted material is made available to anyone wishing to use,
> # modify, copy, or redistribute it subject to the terms and conditions of
> # the GNU General Public License v.2, or (at your option) any later version.
> […] Any Red Hat trademarks that are incorporated in the
> # source code or documentation are not subject to the GNU General Public
> # License and may only be used or replicated with the express permission of
> # Red Hat, Inc.

This is confusing, because the GNU GPL v2 has no mention of trademark. I
would advise the copyright holder to phrase this in terms of what the
GPL actually permits or forbids.

> The first part obviously is just stating that the file in question is
> being made available under the GPL-2 (or any later version) license.
> However, how does the trademark notice play with that?

In my opinion, the addendum is completely null. The grant of license,
above, *already* grants no trademark permission (because it doesn't
mention trademark otherwise, and the GNU GPL v2 doesn't mention
trademark at all).

So it is *apparently* just an assertion of what is already the case – no
special permission to use trademarks – in the absence of that statement.

> One might argue that this a combination of the third BSD-3-clause
> license clause with GPL-2+ and since BSD-3-clause is compatible (to a
> degree) with GPL-2+ through LGPL-2.1(+), this usage should be fine.
> Pure speculation on my side only, though.

Yes, I think it would be helpful to ask the copyright holder to re-write
that license grant, to express their intention more clearly so we don't
need this speculation. Ideally, if the clause is not any additional
restriction or permission, they should remove it from the license grant
text entirely, and just use the standard license grant text.

 \            “[T]he great menace to progress is not ignorance but the |
  `\           illusion of knowledge.” —Daniel J. Boorstin, historian, |
_o__)                                                        1914–2004 |
Ben Finney

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