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Re: trademark licenses and DFSG

On Mon, 2011-10-10 at 18:11 -0700, Steve Langasek wrote:
> On Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 09:11:21AM +0900, Charles Plessy wrote:
> > Le Sun, Oct 09, 2011 at 08:02:01PM +0200, Stefano Zacchiroli a écrit :
> > > 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
> > >   part)
> > 	The DFSG stem from our Social Contract, where they are introduced as a
> > tool to determine if a work is free.  We can decide that they apply to
> > copyright licenses only, and that would leave on our archive
> > administrators the burden of determining  if a trademark license is free.
> No, it would not, because *Debian is not in the practice of licensing
> trademarks*.
> The controlling principle is that we are not trading on the names of the
> upstream works and as a result we have no need of a license - so it doesn't
> matter what kind of hare-brained restrictions upstreams include in their
> trademark licenses because we don't need a license.
> A trademark license is a license to use a *brand*, not a license on a work
> of software.

Those brands may appear in:
- Desktop or menu items used to start programs
- Splash screens and 'About' dialogs
- Release announcements and other promotional material listing prominent
  programs included in Debian

So we certainly make claims that Debian contains $brand_x, and that the
program a user launches is $brand_y.

If the programs in question are unmodified, I think we can reasonably
claim that we are using their trademarks in a descriptive way, which is
fair use (depending, of course, on jurisdiction).  But if they are
modified in any significant way, I don't believe we can rely on that.
And we want to maintain our freedom to modify programs as we see fit.


Ben Hutchings
If at first you don't succeed, you're doing about average.

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