Erosion of free licenses through trademarks
Posted Oct 29, 2006 3:08 UTC (Sun) by Triona
Parent article: The return of Iceweasel
Unfortunately, this is just the start of a very disturbing trend, and it sets a bad example for how the freedoms afforded by free software and open source licensing can be undermined by trademark issues.
Forking is always undesirable, however, the integrity of the free software model, and the assurance of continuity provided by free software licenses are dependent on the ability to fork should it become necessary.
The use of trademarks in the manner being used, essentially as a means of controlling how software is used, significantly weakens the viability of forking as an option to maintain freedom.
While I think FSF was premature in creating a fork, it may ultimately be necessary, and unfortunately, for it to be successful is going to be a very messy process.
Debian's stance may sound idealogical, but as far as I am aware they are legally bound by the charter of their organization to uphold the DFSG - it would be just as illegal to disregard these guidelines as it would to disregard Mozilla's trademark rights.
That leaves the ball in the Mozilla Foundation's court. To stop this from turning into a battle in which everyone loses, they must stop using their trademarks as a means of undermining the licensing of their applications, and provide the guarantee that they will not do so again in the future.
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