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Re: trademark licenses and DFSG: a summary

On Tue, Feb 21, 2012 at 10:14:47AM +0000, Gervase Markham wrote:
> I think it would be great for Debian to develop some guidelines as
> to what sort of things are OK, and not OK, in a trademark license in
> order for Debian to be happy with shipping it. That could include
> such provisions as:

This is a good idea, that I'd like to see implemented. But. It won't
happen auto-magically: we need volunteers to work on it, propose a
draft, discuss it with the project for approval, rinse and repeat.  I've
already spent quite some time and, to be frank, I'm not really willing
to participate in such an activity. I'll be pleased to see others
working on that, though.

I also don't see the idea you're proposing as a blocker for going
forward with clarifying our stance on trademarks in the software we
ship. We can --- and I think we should --- clarify that in general and
then enable maintainers and affected teams to decide on a case by case
basis. In fact, if we start doing that and note down the various
decisions we take, that would help factoring out of experience the
general guidelines you're looking for. We'll probably make mistakes, but
that's a way of learning.

> > (Suggested by Steve Langasek. In addition to Steve's reasoning, I
> > think that doing otherwise would go against the underlying principle
> > of DFSG §8 "License Must Not Be Specific to Debian".)
> So if you are saying that Debian will not accept licenses which are
> specific to Debian (specific person), then are you saying that all
> trademark licenses must be for specific purposes/uses? That is to
> say, the mark owner must lay down policies about what sorts of
> changes are and are not acceptable?

Aren't you confusing trademark policies (the position of trademark
owners on what we'll be considered infringement and what won't) with
trademark licenses (one-to-one agreements between trademark owners and
users, that allow the latter to use the trademark under potentially
different conditions than the general ones stated in the trademark

My proposal is that we should never enter in specific trademark
*license* agreements. On the other hand, we'll base our assessment of
whether we should rebrand some software or not based on various inputs,
including trademark *policies*.

Stefano Zacchiroli     zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} . o .
Maître de conférences   ......   http://upsilon.cc/zack   ......   . . o
Debian Project Leader    .......   @zack on identi.ca   .......    o o o
« the first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club »

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