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Re: Debian UK (was Re: What the DFSG really says about trademarks)

On Fri, Sep 02, 2005 at 10:49:25AM +0100, MJ Ray wrote:

> I don't know debian-br and I didn't find enough explanation.
> Trading with "debian" in the name is an advantage against other
> local businesses who can sell debian CDs, isn't it? What does
> the project get in return for that advantage?

I confess to being puzzled by this persistent use of the term "business"
here.  AFAICT, the Debian UK Society does not have any employees that it
pays; it does not appear to hold any assets, except those which are held
in trust for Debian -- AIUI, the stated purpose for its creation; it has
no shareholders who stand to profit, either from dividends or from sale
of their shares; and it does not engage in any lucrative activities of
which the society itself is a benefactor, seeing that revenue from CD
sales is donated to Debian.  So the society is certainly a
/corporation/, but if it's a business it's a piss-poor one.  (Likewise,
SPI is a corporation, but not a business; and from what I understand of
such things, SPI could also not be considered a charity under UK law.)

As for what the project gets in return for the advantage when selling
Debian CDs, er... we get all the money from the CD sales (after material
costs), don't we?

It's still a fair question whether we want national non-profit
affiliates that hold assets on our behalf to use the Debian trademark,
but this "business" business looks like one bloodshot doozy of a red

> In general, I think a group now should be called debian only if:
>   1. it's a debian subproject, OR
>   2. it's a local charity and got consensus BEFORE trading, OR
>   3. it's outside the scope of trademark infringement,
> because these things have big potential to reflect on debian.
> 1 offers debian some influence, 2 should ensure minimal "good
> governance" and debian influence and 3 we can't do much about.

Why should *charities* get special consideration, anyway?  Being a
charity doesn't automatically make them aligned with Debian's goals.

I think any local org using the Debian name should be accountable to the
DPL for the use of that name, if that's what you mean by being a "Debian
subproject"; but then, a simple revocable trademark license seems to
wholly achieve that.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
vorlon@debian.org                                   http://www.debian.org/

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