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

Steve Langasek <vorlon@debian.org> wrote:
> I confess to being puzzled by this persistent use of the term "business"
> here. 

DUS is an enterprise generating income from commercial sale of goods.
Whatever else you want to call it, "business" seems accurate.

> AFAICT, the Debian UK Society does not have any employees that it
> pays;

The last discussion I remember of that was
and isn't conclusive, but I think you're correct.

> 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;

Neither of those stop it being a business. Some social enterprises
share those features. Some members benefit from DUS money, but it's
not a limited company with obvious and explicit shareholders.

> 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. 

DUS spends on itself, which is necessary in its current setup.
>From the last three treasurer's reports:

DUS expenses:
  Items for sale     1718.00
  Lunch at show        22.82
  Photocopying          0.73

Debian expenses:
  DPL expenses        230.37
  buildd hardware     135.14

> So the society is certainly a
> /corporation/, but if it's a business it's a piss-poor one.

A corporation is a legal person which can own stuff itself and
so on. DUS is an unincorporated association and not a corporation.

How is DUS not a business? Not even a not-for-profit 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.)

Why not, just out of interest? It seems to act for the benefit
of the community and I didn't notice any obvious exclusion.

> 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
> herring.

It's a pain to keep typing "unincorporated association that
sells goods" but "charity" seems inaccurate at present and "society"
seems to suggest to many that it's non-commercial.

> > 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.

Indeed, which is why debian should reach consensus before they
trade. I think charities should get some special consideration
because law enforces some level of openness and honour not
required of other organisations.

> 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.

By debian subproject, I mean one of the things that follows the
general ideas of:
1. announcement and open discussion before its creation;
2. voluntary participation of debian developers;
3. support from some other key debian groups; and
4. accountable to the wider project;
which are mostly outlined in the draft subproject howto.

DUS was kept quiet pre-launch and has automatic membership.
The DPL should not allow DUS the debian trademark yet.

MJ Ray (slef), K. Lynn, England, email see http://mjr.towers.org.uk/

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