Open licences need a "no passing off" clause
Posted Jul 14, 2011 9:08 UTC (Thu) by ayeomans
Parent article: VLC and unwelcome redistributors
This has strong links to the LWN article on Nina Paley's Rantifesto.
Most current open source licences don't appear to have any direct way of protecting their name and reputation. Trademark law is used instead as this can be enforced through the offence of "Passing Off".
But most projects don't want the extra burdens of applying for a trademark, but would rather work under the automatic benefits of copyright law. So I'm suggesting that open source licences for software and text would benefit from having a "no passing off" clause in the licence grant.
As an example, a project I worked on wished to produce a document that encouraged re-use, but did not want any derivative works to pretend to be official. I could not find a suitable standard licence. We ended up with a CC-No Derivative more restrictive licence, then added
You are free to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work, subject to appropriate attribution ..., except that in addition you may make derivative works, providing such works do not claim to be endorsed by ...
Such a clause would benefit cases such as VLC in that derivative works could not be called "VLC" (without separate permission, of course).
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