Re: trademark licenses and DFSG
Stefano Zacchiroli <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> as recent events have shown, we need to discuss our general stance on
> trademarks and the impact that trademark licenses (should) have on the
> content of the Debian archive. [...]
Thank you for pushing this important but depressing topic forwards.
> Impact analysis [...]
> I'm open to suggestions on how we can collect such information for
> packages already in the archive.
I'd love to know how to do this without hammering servers and
probably upsetting people.
Also, one data point may be how many packages have trademark licences
are in the archive already?
> The letter of DFSG
> A first help in deciding on the above comes from DFSG. According to my
> own reading and interpretation of it:
> - the word "license" means "copyright license"
I don't think that's correct. I've been corrected in the past:
"When creating the DFSG, I recognized, and respected, the right of
authors to manage their own brand using trademarks, and to restrict
the use of those trademarks in derived works as long as DFSG-compliant
use of the software would be possible after a brand
substitution. [...]" -- Bruce Perens, in
So it seems like trademarks were considered when writing the DFSG.
I think there were also examples from the early days of contracts and
maybe design rights making software fail the DFSG, but I don't have
links to them.
> We need to decide together what to do about the presence of software
> with trademark restrictions in the Debian archive. It would be nice to
> reach consensus through simple discussion, but we can of course also
> decide to vote on this matter.
> My own proposal, that I submit to your consideration, is as follows:
> - DFSG applies to copyright license; trademark restrictions should not
> make a package DFSG non-free (philosophical part)
> - however, trademark restrictions that get in the way of "usual Debian
> procedures" should not be accepted in the Debian archive (practical
> What do you think?
I feel that interpretation is mostly wrong because the DFSG are
guidelines for software, not for licences, although the practical
outcomes of your proposal would be the same as mine in most cases.
I think our freedom to use/study/share/adapt software can be affected
by trademark licences as well as copyright licences. If the world
agrees another new monopoly right called Betty, then it may be
affected by Betty licences too.
However, often trademark licences appear to restrict things that are
beyond the scope of a trademark - things like honest description of
the source of a package - and we should disregard those when
deciding whether a trademark licence affects our freedoms.
So I would amend your proposal as follows:
- DFSG apply to software, not licenses; trademark restrictions may
make a package DFSG non-free (philosophical part)
- however, trademark restrictions that seek to restrict things which
cannot be restricted by trademark law (like honest description or
naming of internal components) should be diregarded when evaluating
a trademark licence.
Requirements to rebrand or seek permission before adding a security
patch or making other non-identity changes are not acceptable:
probably the package should be rebranded before being accepted into
the archive. Other unacceptable restriction types may be spotted by
the security team, release team, ftp-masters or maintainers.
Does that work as well?
My Opinion Only: see http://people.debian.org/~mjr/
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