Canonical’s IPRights Policy incompatible with Ubuntu licence policy

Jonathan Riddell jr at
Fri May 1 22:04:55 UTC 2015

This is a very significant issue for the Ubuntu community which I have
brought up with the Ubuntu community council for a number of years now with
no success.

This Canonical IPRights Policy is for some reason on the

It says "Any redistribution of modified versions of Ubuntu must be
approved, certified or provided by Canonical if you are going to associate
it with the Trademarks. Otherwise you must remove and replace the
Trademarks and will need to recompile the source code to create your own

It confuses the issues of Trademark and distribution, which are unrelated
issues. Nobody has a problem with restricting trading with the Ubuntu
name.  But it claims that the binary packages are not freely
redistributable which is incorrect with any definition of free software
including Ubuntu's own.

>From Ubuntu's licence policy:
"Must allow modification and distribution of modified copies under the same
licence. Just having the source code does not convey the same freedom as
having the right to change it. Without the ability to modify software, the
Ubuntu community cannot support software, fix bugs, translate it, or
improve it."  which is not compatible with the restriction claimed on
binary packages

>From the About Ubuntu page on
"Ubuntu applications are all free and open source — so you can share them
with anyone you like, as often as you like."  which is different from the
restriction claimed by Canonical's policy.

Canonical does not hold the copyright on binary packages any more than it
does on the source packages.  Rumours that somehow running a compiler on a
computer you own makes you a copyright holder are incorrect.  Claiming
binaries can not be freely redistributed is an insult to the thousands of
upstream developers who do own the copyright to the works we package and
distribute. And of course the claim is incompatible with the GPL, a licence
upon which we depend heavily and which we can not afford to breach.  This
incorrect claim does affect both upstreams and their willingness to work
with us and downstreams and their willingness to use us.  Claims that
somehow we don't care about derivative distributions and are happy to
restrict them are frankly scary.

I'm at a loss on how to proceed on this matter as the community council
seems unconcerned at the problem and Canonical is happy to carry on
perpetrating the myth.  I'd welcome any suggestions.

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