[Bug 269656] Re: AN IRRELEVANT LICENSE IS PRESENTED TO YOU FREE-OF-CHARGE ON STARTUP
mark at canonical.com
Wed Sep 24 11:53:22 UTC 2008
> Trademark is, like copyright and patents, an "intellectual property",
> designed to restrict other people. It's not in the spirit of free
> software to be bound by any of these.
Remco, the GPL specifically constrains what you can do with code, using
copyright law. It's easy to confuse "do whatever you want" with the
carefully constructed, and enforced, freedoms in free software, but they
really are different things. Free software is not a carte blanche to use
other people's work however you want.
> The same is true for the Firefox code. If we use the nameless version
> and build our own brand, we use free software. If we use Firefox®, we
> aren't using free software, since the license of the branded binary is
No, the license is NOT non-free. The GPLv3 explicitly mentions
trademarks and says that it is reasonable to ask people to use a
different name for the results of their modifications while still
protecting the essential freedoms of Free Software.
> Mozilla Firefox is absolutely free... except for the trademark. You are
> completely free to change the code, but you're not allowed to change
> stuff if Mozilla doesn't want you to. To keep Mozilla happy, you have to
> compromise by allowing this friendly notice, and whatever Mozilla may
> want in the future. Basically, Mozilla is an "additional terms
No, if we want to use the Firefox brand, then we must work with Mozilla,
and that's reasonable. If we don't want to use the brand, they have
kindly given us lots of rights to the code they have so lovingly produced.
> I don't like this any more than anyone. I want to use Firefox, but I
> also want to use software that is not restricted by outsiders. The
> Firefox code and Firefox® are two different products with two different
> licenses. The one is free, but undesirable. The other is bound by
> Mozilla's wishes, but a strong brand. It's a lose lose situation. Except
> if Mozilla relinquishes the Firefox trademark, which is unlikely.
I feel differently about this. I'm enormously grateful for the work
Mozilla does in giving free software platforms like Linux and Ubuntu a
world-class browser. I'm grateful that we can get access to the very
powerful and meaningful brand - Firefox - and confident that we can work
with Mozilla to make the terms of that access reasonable. To me, it's
important to find a way to respect the wishes of the people that
actually build free software applications. That's not always possible,
and in those cases we want to be gracious about our differences.
How about you? Are you appreciative of Mozilla's work? Do you think it's
reasonable to want to work with them, where we can? Do you contribute a
lot to Mozilla? Do you think it's right to ignore the major contributor
of a big body of work, and even berate them for wanting to create a
strong brand? Do you think the things they are actually asking for here,
now that we've been through this process of engagement with them, are
unreasonable? Or are you simply objecting to the idea that you might
have to work WITH someone instead of just doing what you want?
Sometimes, I think in the free software world we have attitudes that are
ultimately harmful to our own cause, because we think we have rights to
things that we don't really. If we do nothing but berate Mozilla, we
will run the risk of ending up with no ongoing investment in their Linux
work. Why should they bother, if all they get is ungrateful abuse? Linux
is a very small part of their overall user base, remember.
AN IRRELEVANT LICENSE IS PRESENTED TO YOU FREE-OF-CHARGE ON STARTUP
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