[Linux-aus] FireFox vs IceWeasel
andrae at netymon.com
Tue Oct 24 22:11:03 UTC 2006
On 24/10/2006, at 2:11 PM, Jeff Waugh wrote:
> This storm has been brewing for years. Trademarks are an unsolved
> problem in
> the FLOSS space, and it is *not* an "illogical extreme" that puts
> us there.
I'm afraid I can't let this slide. An assumption I am seeing
throughout this thread is that somehow the concepts of reputation and
FOSS are opposed in some way. It has always been a fundamental free
software principle that when a group of developers decide to fork a
project they change the name to avoid confusion. emacs has forked
several times and each time the new fork used a new name. gcc has
had two famous forks - the first was the P5 optimisation fork, and
was renamed egcs - the second was the fork by Redhat, renamed kgcc.
The MMU-less fork of the linux kernel - renamed uClinux. The fork of
Debian itself - renamed Ubuntu.
Moreover the behaviour of mozilla isn't particularly unusual, or
unanticipated by the Debian Social Contract -
4. Integrity of The Author's Source Code
The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in
modified form _only_ if the license allows the distribution of "patch
files" with the source code for the purpose of modifying the program
at build time. The license must explicitly permit distribution of
software built from modified source code. The license may require
derived works to carry a different name or version number from the
original software. (This is a compromise. The Debian group encourages
all authors not to restrict any files, source or binary, from being
and indeed is mirrored by Debian's own trademark policy:
Although Debian can be obtained for free and will always remain that
way, events such as the problem with the ownership of the term
“Linux” have shown that Debian needs to protect its property from any
use which could hurt its reputation.
Debian has decided to create two logos: one logo is for official
Debian use; the other logo falls under an open use type license.
Indeed this policy also includes the revocation and approval
requirements that are issues in this dispute.
So Mozilla isn't being unreasonable, or anti-free software. It isn't
snubbing the community, or doing anything that hasn't been standard
practice in our community since its earliest beginnings.
On the other hand, previous posters are absolutely, 100%, correct
when they point out that Debian isn't being unreasonable or
particularly extreme either. They have specific goals that are in a
fair amount of tension with mechanisms of reputation management. I
won't go into detail in this post as those prior posts have covered
this better than I could.
Contrary to other comments in this thread and elsewhere, this is not
some great calamity triggered by some inconsistency between FOSS and
Trademark Law. Rather we should be celebrating this as a public
demonstration of the power of FOSS, and the value of the freedoms we
cherish. The fork is an option that permits both parties to proceed
with their various developments, relieving much of the pressure to
find an immediate solution, and consequently removing much of the
heat out of the situation. This release valve is a powerful social
feature of FOSS unavailable to proprietary software.
Also trademark law is here doing exactly what we want it to do. It
is allowing individuals and organisations to take limited steps to
protect their reputation. And the interaction with FOSS is extremely
healthy: when the owners of the trademark are not satisfied with
another parties treatment of their reputation, FOSS still permits
that party to fork, rename, and continue to release.
The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon. And the name is far
less significant than the software it designates.
andrae at netymon.com
Principal Mulgara Consultant
Netymon Pty Ltd
More information about the linux-aus