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Re: What the DFSG really says about trademarks

It should be noted that I'm not a member of the Debian-UK Society
committee, and am just a UK-based Debian developer; so any nefarious
agenda is purely my own.

That being said, I have been involved in Debian-UK Society activities
including the AGM; so hopefully can answer questions as an uninvolved

On Mon, 2005-08-29 at 11:32 -0500, Branden Robinson / Debian Project
Leader wrote:

> On Fri, Aug 26, 2005 at 09:57:20AM +0100, MJ Ray wrote:
> > Ian Jackson <ijackson@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote: [...]
> > > This would make it clear to everyone, SPI included, that we ought to
> > > grant the trademark licence, and it would stop MJ Ray's
> > > shit-stirring by making it clear that he could bugger the whole thing
> > > up but only if he can get a General Resolution (for which he wouldn't
> > > even get quorum, of course, let alone a majority).
> > 
> > I do not want a strange not-for-profit *trading* as Debian here,
> > instead of just holding donations for debian.
> I do not understand to what specific activities you are referring to when
> you refer to "trading".
It probably helps to outline the history of exactly why the Debian-UK
Society exists.

There are a couple of major Linux Expos in the UK, and for several years
now Debian has been attending those.  In fact, we've got to the point
where we have one of the biggest and busiest stands.

Over the years, we've had lots of people wanting to donate money to
Debian.  Sending money to SPI is reasonably complicated, and involves
international money transactions, people wanted to just give us a cheque
there and then.  It's also worth noting that UK people don't benefit
from the same kind of incentives for donating to charities as US people
do; especially not US charities like SPI.

So Phil Hands (ftp.uk.debian.org host) and long-time DD collected the
donation cheques and stored them in his bank account.

We've also been making Debian t-shirts for a few years and selling them
at the expos; it's been very popular and provides a great way to raise
money for Debian.  The money from that was being held in Steve
McIntyre's bank account.

Things that this money had been spent on include things SPI spends its
money on, but with the advantage that the transaction can be carried out
in sterling with no overhead:
- Debian hardware, including buildd and cd-image equipment
- reimbusing travel expenses of UK developers conference trips where
  they can't afford it themselves (my Debconf3 ticket was paid from UK

It's also become somewhat traditional for Debian to host the main
end-of-expo party for the various .org pavilion exhibitors.

For the usual "being hit by a bus" reasons, it was generally felt that
it would be better to get the money into a "Debian" bank account rather
than in random developers'.

In order to get a bank account, you need a constitution.  While people
like MJ Ray like bureaucratic bondage[0], it was felt by everyone else
that the best constitution would be the simplest possible.

Thus the "Debian-UK Society", an organisation that exists simply to have
a bank account in the UK for doing the things that the UK developers
have been doing all this time anyway.

> > It would compete with long-standing suppliers (debianshop.com?)  and may
> > deter UK commercial support, which needs to grow.
This seems an odd statement -- Debian itself competes with long-standing
supplies (redhat.com) and may deter UK companies from starting their own

Debian-UK Society's trading activities are pretty much limited to
selling t-shirts at it's .org pavilion stand (in co-operating with the
"shop" stands there) and putting the profit into good use for Debian.
This means it's trivial for anyone to complete, they just sell things

The principal other "shop" stand at the UK expos is debianshop.com; and
we've co-operated them for a long time -- latest example would be them
selling mugs with the "We only release it when it's ready" and "Good
things come to those who wait" images that are also seen on Debian-UK

> > The society will not solve its originally-stated problem well, if at all.
> Can you remind us what that is?  My impression is that the Debian UK
> Society was founded largely to mitigate the problem of there not being a
> charitable organization closely affiliated with Debian in the U.K. (as, for
> example, SPI is in the U.S.).  It's my understanding that the status quo
> was people just giving money to Steve McIntyre personally and trusting him
> to dispose of it in the project's interests.
The problem is that we couldn't have a bank account for Debian money,
the society solves that.

There are complicated rules for being a "Charity" in the UK; in
particular it would prevent the Debian-UK Society from buying beer after
the expos.  It also vastly increases the amount of work required to run
it.  That's why a "Society" model was chosen instead.

> > Why not treat DUS and DCC similarly? Both are developer business
> > initiatives presenting themselves as done deals using Debian's name, and
> > DCC is a lot less secretive, as far as I can tell.
> I don't understand in what sense DUS is a "developer business initiative".
Myself neither -- pretty much every country has a "Debian <ISO CODE>" (I
saw mention of a Debian-JP on Planet today) grouping.  It's not a
business, just a tool for having a bank account.

I guess the problem is that we're simple folk who couldn't hide an
agenda if we tried -- and MJ Ray has a hard time believing that.

Have you ever, ever felt like this?
Had strange things happen?  Are you going round the twist?

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