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Dividing the Linux desktop
LWN.net Weekly Edition for June 13, 2013
A report from pgCon 2013
Little things that matter in language design
Fedora, secure boot, and an insecure future
Posted Jun 6, 2012 17:56 UTC (Wed) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Jun 6, 2012 18:56 UTC (Wed) by cmccabe (guest, #60281)
If you don't have a trademark, then you can't do anything about it. This is also the reason why Linus Torvalds has a trademark on "Linux."
It's all very well and good to say "well, those people are stupid. They should have gone to the REAL fedoraproject.org." But if you don't have a trademark, there's nothing stopping the black hats from registering therealfedoraproject.org and putting the badware there.
tl;dr Trademark law exists for a reason and it's not evil.
Posted Jun 6, 2012 19:00 UTC (Wed) by gmaxwell (subscriber, #30048)
The analogous cases is that I release software under a copyleft license and then FooCorp takes my software an enhances it so that it can run on some new class of devices and then redistributes it. However, downstream recipients are prohibited from making modifications to these enhanced copies unless they pay $99 for a non-transferable right to modify, or if they remove the enhancement. This would generally be prohibited by a copyleft license if accomplished via copyright restrictions.
In this case the enhancement the modification of the software by the addition of a cryptographic signature with a key only known by RedHat and the prohibition is the digital rights management function of the bios instead of a licensing restriction. The fact that there is some obfuscation where the distributor and the device maker are distinct entities isn't really important relative to the recipient's freedom, and for all I know the UEFI firmware makers are just shell companies for RedHat (not that I think they are, but could be for the next party trying to enhance+lockdown Linux systems).
The difference in mechanism may make this behavior pattern compatible with current copyleft licenses. But because the end effect can be the same people can reasonably hold that it's incompatible with the intent and spirit of copyleft licenses, and that perhaps new licenses ought to be authored which prevent gatekeepers from extracting rents on making free software usable by licensing out signing key.
Posted Jun 6, 2012 19:14 UTC (Wed) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
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