Firefox newly insists on showing an EULA

Onno Benschop onno at
Tue Sep 16 00:00:05 UTC 2008

On 15/09/08 18:52, Markus Hitter wrote:
> Hello all,
> readers of this list might be interested in the discussion here:
> <>
> It's about a new requirement from the Mozilla Foundation, how End  
> User License Agreements (EULAs) are against the spirit of free  
> software and the GPL, how click-through requirements affect the user  
> experience and about wether Firefox should be replaced with a  
> differently branded equivalent:

In summary the issue is this:

   1. There seems scope for Canonical to negotiate with Mozilla to make
      this go away.
   2. The EULA seems to attempt to protect something that is covered
      under the GPL Preamble.
   3. The EULA seems to be referring to a binary that wasn't created by
   4. Allowing this EULA is the thin-end of the wedge to others wanting
      to "pop-up" something.

The bug links[1] to this text which I think is important:

    In particular, they kept repeating, "Fedora has a EULA, so why
    shouldn't we?". That seemed to be the main reason for it.

    I have news for them. Fedora doesn't have a EULA any more.

    The reason it doesn't is because I complained about it, and made the
    case to their management, lawyers, and release manager, that:

        * They don't need a EULA, trademark law applies anyway
        * It's free software so people can go in and remove the EULA
          anyway (which in fact I did, so I never agreed to it)
        * Putting EULAs into Fedora was causing all sorts of unsavory
          characters to go "see, Fedora is doing it" and stick EULAs
          into their own distros -- EULAs that contain really
          objectionable provisions.
        * I don't want my relationship with Fedora/Mozilla to be
          governed by a one-sided contract written by them. I want it to
          be governed by the laws, which are already one-sided enough.

    The Fedora Project Leader, Max Spevack, was nice enough to send me a
    note thanking me for making it go away. Getting rid of it was on his
    list of battles to fight, but he had had some more pressing things
    ahead of it. He also pointed out that if you did a text-mode
    install, it never presented you with the EULA anyway, so if Red
    Hat's lawyers had been serious about really, really demanding that
    every copy of Fedora was accompanied by a signed contract with the
    end user, their releases weren't doing that anyway.

    So it's gone now. It's been gone since Fedora 7.

Could this point a way forward that might allow Canonical to negotiate
with Mozilla about this?

I think that other proposed methods of resolving this are much more
destructive and that Canonical can point at the user response that is
beginning to emerge.

I do not understand what the EULA is actually trying to protect and why.
Which particular threat is perceived that needs protecting with this EULA?

I wonder if the whole thing covered under this paragraph in the GPL

    [..] "Also, for each author's protection and ours, we want to make
    certain that everyone understands that there is no warranty for this
    free software.  If the software is modified by someone else and
    passed on, we want its recipients to know that what they have is not
    the original, so that any problems introduced by others will not
    reflect on the original authors' reputations." [..]

The opening statement in the EULA is most puzzling, this sentence
appears to be the basis of the license:

    The accompanying executable code version of Mozilla Firefox and
    related documentation [..]

Last I looked, our distributed executable code wasn't created by Mozilla
at all, it was compiled by a compiler running on a Canonical/Ubuntu
server from source-code supplied by Mozilla, that is, Mozilla didn't
supply the executable, so this license makes little sense.

I suspect that the EULA comes from the downloadable .exe files used to
install under Windows and that it is a hang-over from that. One
comment[2] points that the EULA came from the installer - which we never
used - and that it was moved to be "more visible".


To me this issue is the thin-end of the wedge, next we'll have a EULA
for which ever developer wants to have a EULA. I realise that not all
applications will go down this route, but if this stands as a precedent,
then we're likely to be bombarded by pop-up EULA's and we'll no longer
have the option of installing software within (large) organisations
without having a lawyer present.

Onno Benschop

Connected via Optus B3 at S31°54'06" - E115°50'39" (Yokine, WA)
()/)/)()        ..ASCII for Onno..
|>>?            ..EBCDIC for Onno..
--- -. -. ---   ..Morse for Onno..

ITmaze   -   ABN: 56 178 057 063   -  ph: 04 1219 8888   -   onno at

More information about the Ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list