Is Ubuntu going to adapt Ice Weasel?

Ian Jackson ian at
Tue Oct 10 18:00:55 BST 2006

Mitch Golden writes ("Re: Is Ubuntu going to adapt Ice Weasel?"):
> I have to admit to complete confusion regarding this firefox issue.  There 
> is *nothing* non-free about Firefox.  The code is licensed under a free 
> license, and you can do whatever you want with it.

That's fine, and so that means that if we distribute it _not called
Firefox_ it's Free Software.


> The only thing you can't do is make changes to it *and then call it 
> Firefox*.

That means that if we choose to call it Firefox, we put ourselves in a
position where it's not Free Software _for us_.

Unless you're suggesting that we should call it Firefox unless and
until we fail to get approval from Mozilla for some change we like and
should change the name at that time ?  I think that would be unwise.

>  This is perfectly reasonable and totally within the spirit of 
> free software licenses.  [...]

Can you think of any other piece of software whose upstreams have
imposed trademark restrictions on the normal name of the software in
this way ?

Obviously if we change the name then all is well - except of course
for the fact that no-one will have a clue what the software is that
we're shipping.

The reason it's not within the spirit of the Free Software model is
because Mozilla _expect_ us to use the name Firefox and to comply with
their patch approval process.  That is not the way Free development

Normally when upstreams get upset at changes made by downstream
distributors, they have attempted to enforce their will with copyright
law, and pretty much everyone (except sometimes those upstreams)
agrees that this (if successful) makes the software non-free.  Here
the upstream is using trademark law to achieve the same degree of
control over us; luckily we can more easily avoid this, simply by
avoiding the trademark.  That is what we should do.


(Note that I am not responsible for the decision in this area and I'm
 not the point of contact with Mozilla for these policy questions.
 Matt Zimmerman is handling the matter and I will implement what he

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