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Feature: Legal

Behind the Debian and Mozilla dispute over use of Firefox

By Lisa Hoover on October 10, 2006 (8:00:00 AM)

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Debian plans to release its newest version, Etch, in December, and wants Mozilla's Firefox Web browser to be part of the distribution. Mozilla, however, told Debian it couldn't release the software without its accompanying artwork. Now a legal expert says that the existing distinctions between copyright and trademark laws should have prevented this from becoming an issue in the first place.

Larry Rosen, an attorney specializing in intellectual property protection and former general counsel for the Open Source Initiative, told NewsForge, "An open source copyright license can permit you to make any changes you want to certain software, or to make no changes at all. But a trademark license may also be needed before you can apply the original author's trademarks to those changed or original works.

"I don't think that this should be a debate. We merely have to understand that copyright and trademark involve entirely different rights. A license to one of those isn't necessarily a license to the other."

Earlier this year, Mike Connor, a developer with Mozilla, submitted a bug report to Debian that stated that if Debian intend to call its browser Firefox, it would be required to include Firefox graphics as well, or should plan to find a new name for the browser.

Mozilla says its guidelines are clear: the use of the Firefox name is permitted only if accompanied by its logo, icons, and other artwork.

Debian developer and project maintainer Eric Dorland contends, however, that Mozilla's graphics set cannot be released with Etch because "they have a non-free license." He says to do so would be a violation of the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG), which determine the criteria for which software can be used in Debian distributions.

While Debian developers are willing to use the Firefox name in compliance with trademark laws, they feel that any artwork contained in Etch must allow users the freedom to make changes to it, as they can with other free artwork.

Connor says, however, that while he appreciates Debian's point of view, Mozilla's logos and icons provide a visual identity as well as an assurance of quality to the user. He says that Mozilla's stance on protecting its branding elements is no different than that of any other company that wants to ensure a high-quality user experience.

"Stay of execution?"

After a long and circular discussion on Debian's email list, Dorland asked Connor if there was any room for a "stay of execution," since Etch is scheduled to go into deep freeze in a matter of weeks. Connor responded, "It makes much more sense to resolve this before you put another long-lived release into the wild, unless your aim is to delay compliance."

He went on to say that, beyond the issues of logo use, he also had "grave concerns around the nature and quality of some of the changes the patchset contains," and insisted that Mozilla be allowed to review the patches before making a final decision about the use of its trademark. "If we were forced to revoke your permission to use the trademark, freeze state would not matter, you would be required to change all affected packages as soon as possible. Its not a nice thing to do, but we would do it if necessary, and we have done so before."

Despite Dorland's continued pleas, Connor said the only way Mozilla would approve Firefox's inclusion with Etch would be to comply with four conditions: any changes to Mozilla's source code will need to be submitted for review, along with a description of a reason for the change; the release must be based on the CVS tag and/or source tarball, including approved patches; build configurations will also require approval; and the logo and trademark must be used together.

"The ball is in your court now," said Connor, "but you should absolutely not plan to ship without addressing these issues one way or another."

Mozilla says the crux of the issue is a desire to ensure a quality product and a good user experience across all distribution and vendor lines. "We have a long history of working closely with Linux distributors to determine what is and isn't an appropriate modification to Firefox. This is how brands and trademarks are being managed in the world today and we're trying to find a middle ground with Debian," says Chris Beard, Mozilla's head of marketing and product strategy.

"We have policies in place that are reasonably open but at the same time protect the meaning of our marks. They are as open as possible to support the community but as strict as necessary to protect consumers and the reputation of our products.

"I think we're at a point, since we can't reach an agreement, that Debian can ship a version of Firefox and can avail themselves of the project, but release it under their own name."

Nat Friedman, vice president of desktop engineering for Novell, says he understands Mozilla's point of view. "The Mozilla Foundation has worked hard to build Firefox into a brand [that] means security, simplicity, performance. Their desire to protect that brand is perfectly normal and perfectly reasonable and Novell works closely with the Mozilla Foundation in support of this objective."

Debian's Dorland says the whole process has been "annoyingly bureaucratic and is completely unprecedented in the Free Software community." He agrees that renaming the browser for Etch's release is inevitable "since there does not appear to be any way we can resolve our differences...Unless something changes in the very short term, it will be called Iceweasel. It seemed to be by far the most popular, avoids any confusion with the trademark, and already has a history of being the 'alternative' name for it. "

Déjà vu?

If any of this sounds faintly familiar, it may be because a similar issue arose prior to the last Debian version release, Sarge, and dates as far back as 2004. At that time, the dispute centered around the use of trademarks for Mozilla's Thunderbird. "Eventually an agreement was struck whereby we could use the name without the logo and it was up to the Mozilla Foundation to keep an eye on the Debian packages to make sure they met the level of quality they expected," said Dorland. "Now the trademark has been moved to the Mozilla Corp. and they feel that agreement isn't strong enough."

Beard says the Mozilla Corp. is just a legal framework that helps the Mozilla Foundation function and manage its resources more effectively and that it has no bearing on the issue at hand. "This was not motivated by us becoming a corporation," he says. "In fact, the Foundation holds all the intellectual property.

"There have been misunderstandings all around because this is a complex issue ... but at the end of the day, we're motivated by the same interests: doing the right thing for public benefit."

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on Behind the Debian and Mozilla dispute over use of Firefox

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Mozilla violating the Four Freedoms

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 11, 2006 12:34 PM
The Mozilla Public License is supposed to be a free software license, supporting the Four Freedoms.

However, Mozilla states that "any changes to Mozilla's source code will need to be submitted for review, along with a description of a reason for the change; the release must be based on the CVS tag and/or source tarball, including approved patches; build configurations will also require approval;".

This seems to be in direct contravention of the four freedoms. Are there differences between the GPL and MPL which allow this kind of crap? Or should this be another area that the GPL v3 needs to try to tackle?

Given that every<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.DEB-based Linux distribution is going to be affected by this, does the Mozilla Foundation realize the implications of having a large core of their supporters running a variant of their browser called "IceWeasel"?

Seriously, in trying to vigorously defend their trademark (from a friend, no less), they're in fact going to do irreparable damage to the Firefox brand.

Somebody needs to hunt down the MBAs running the Mozilla Foundation and pull the sticks out of their asses.

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Re:Mozilla violating the Four Freedoms

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 11, 2006 01:59 PM
No. There's a reason for trademark law. For example, in the early 1900's, NCR took used, crappy cash registers, labeled them with their competitor's brand name, and sold them from a store named after competitors. The idea was to trash the reputation of their competitors. And it worked.

Fast forward a century. Microsoft, wanting to trash Java, ships a shitty version of Java with Windows and IE. THis was a trademark dispute, not a copyright dispute. If it was so-shitty, Sun should have been able to yank the license to call it Java. Lawsuits ensued. All I know is that the shitty JVM is still shipped with Windows, and it's still back where it was in 1998.

OK, so what's stopping MS from downloading the source for FireFox, making all sorts of changes to make it shitty, and shipping a copy with every version of Windows, to play alongside IE? The trademark rules, that's what.

That would be a move MS would like to make, it would make IE look much better in contrast and would increase their market hedgemony. Mozilla's TM rules are specifically designed to prevent this. ANd their TM rules have paid off: FireFox, by that name, is so popular that even Debian wants to include it.

I think that Mozilla's TM needs conflict with Debian's freedom needs. Firefox cannot ship with Debian, because it's not free enough. This is a situation Debian chose for themselves, from the start. They are the ones who demanded that level of freedom, and they acknowleged when they made that rule that there would be software that they couldn't ship with Debian Linux because of lack of freedom. So be it, Firefox is not for Debian.

So it strikes me that the IceWeasel project is the way to go. But don't call it IceWeasel as if Mozilla is doing something shitty by covering their ass. They aren't.

There's many other Mozilla-derived browsers around, what's one more? Just don't call it FireFox, and don't bitch and moan when Mozilla tries to protect themselves from MS. WHose side are you on anyway?

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Re:Mozilla violating the Four Freedoms

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 11, 2006 03:33 PM
Your examples are cases of deliberate malfesance, while Mozilla is not allowing even good-faith improvements to their software to be made that resolve security issues without individual permissions to be created for each and every change.

The need to defend a brand against shoddy workmanship has a reasonable basis. The means chosen by the Mozilla Corporation are unfortunately unusually onerous.

--jrodman

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Re:Mozilla violating the Four Freedoms

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 11, 2006 03:44 PM
Mozilla is shooting itself in the foot over this. Debian is not an enemy, quite the contrary. A lot of highly skilled people are running it, and having opinion leaders chuckle over Iceweasel and Mozilla's folly everytime they start up their browser is not something in their interest.

If the whole trademark issue really would be over protecting their public image, this will backfire. More likely, it is about power and control, and pushing Debian into violating their core principles, which just won't work.

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Re:Mozilla violating the Four Freedoms

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 01:21 AM
This makes some good points, but I don't think anyone posting here, or the article's author for that matter, have read some of the mail list where Debian and Mozilla went around about this.

Debian's Firefox maintainer (?Dorland?) has effectively forked the code but still wants to call it Firefox. Mozilla's Conner specifically states that the changes Mozilla's developers have seen are confusing and appear to have diverged to point that Debian's version of the code could not be merged with future versions of the official tree. He also points out that the Debian maintainer has refused to work these issues through the normal Mozilla bug/change process.

This is a FORK, people! That's perfectly legal because the Firefox code is GPL. But as she said in the article, putting the Firefox brand on something implies that it is their product, which this is not. They have every right in the world to protect that and they took the proper legal steps to do so (using trademark). That's all they've demanded from Debian. They can't distribute a (undeclared) fork and still call it Firefox.

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Re:Mozilla violating the Four Freedoms

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 02:57 AM
Firefox code is MPL, not GPL.

DG

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Re:Mozilla violating the Four Freedoms

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 03:45 PM
This, my dear unknown polemist, is untrue. Please do go to the Debian bug tracker, where the discussion beween Mr. Connor (not Conner) and Debian developers takes place and see for yourself.

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Re:Mozilla violating the Four Freedoms

Posted by: Administrator on October 11, 2006 03:12 PM

This makes it obvious once more that trademark law and copyright are totally distinct and orthogonal subjects (although the article itself repeats the stupid <a href="http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html#IntellectualProperty" title="gnu.org">confusion of "intellectual property"</a gnu.org>).


GPL and MPL are Free Software licenses but in this case it's impossible to continue security support for older versions as every patch would have to be signed by Mozilla Corp.


So, the trademark requirements effectively make it impossible to use <a href="http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html" title="gnu.org">Freedom 3</a gnu.org> (improve and release improvements).

Debian has no other choice but to drop the trademarked version of that browser and to create an unbranded one.

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reality is calling, and no one is home

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 12:46 AM
Boo-hoo for you. You wouldn't have any software to bitch about were it not for 1). Firefox, a generous gift to the open source community from AOL/Netscape, 2). Open Office, a generous gift from Sun, 3). generous contributions to the Linux kernel from IBM/Oracle/Intel/Oracle/SGI/Novell etc. etc. etc., 3). KDE and Gnome and financially supported by Novell/Suse, 4). Evolution, which would be a dinky mail client without, again, Novell.

The corporations that have helped make our free operating system what it is today ALL have a profit motive, and to single out Mozilla is hypocritical.

Stop bitching if you don't like it and go use Hurd/lynx/vim/pine. Hurray!! I've just reverted to the Stone Age, but I'm Free!!

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Re:reality is calling, and no one is home

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 01:11 AM
Lynx, vim and pine are Stone Age? Then a whole slew of UNIX/Linux system administrators, developers and power users must be living in the Stone Age...and yet still running productivity rings around teh noobz.

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Re:Mozilla violating the Four Freedoms

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 02:53 AM
I don't recall anyone from Mozilla stating anything about Four Freedoms. You have made it up. They have their MPL license from the first day.

I am frequently in position to read such statements and still keep wondering about them.

DG

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Re:Mozilla violating the Four Freedoms

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 06:16 AM
Read carefully:
"I don't think that this should be a debate. We merely have to understand that copyright and trademark involve entirely different rights. A license to one of those isn't necessarily a license to the other."

The code licenses exclusively cover copyright issues, and they do well there and grant all the OSS freedoms you need.
They do NOT cover trademark issues, and so there may be stuff in the code that may be free from a copyright perspective, but not from a trademark perspective.
Note that this is true for lots of code actually *shipped* by Debian, only that other trademark holders seem to not apply rules as strong as the Mozilla Foundation does with the Firefox trademark. But the reason for this is simple, as Firefox has grown very fast to be a very highly visible trademark.

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Based on a CVS tag.... nice joke.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 11, 2006 05:44 PM
"...the release must be based on the CVS tag and/or source tarball..."

Up until recently, the source code that went into the final releases wasn't the source code that was in CVS and wasn't the soure code that was tagged as the release. Only after a *lot* of distribution maintainers started complaining did the release managers actually start implementing a system whereby the exact source for an actual release was available.

And now they're complaining about people not sticking to the pristine source and basing releases off CVS tags. Nice joke.

The Mozilla name and brand have been significantly tarnished in my eyes by this exercise.

I used to spend time moving IE users over to Mozilla for both technical and ideological reasons. The latter is no longer applicable.

<flamebait>So, if M$ can get their act together enough for IE7 there might be no reason at all for me to help people switch.</flamebait>

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Re:Based on a CVS tag.... nice joke.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 11, 2006 09:23 PM
Put 'em on Opera. It's a much better browser than both IE and Mozilla.

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Opera better than Mozilla? It depends.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 13, 2006 11:12 PM
I use Opera as my everyday browser. For speed, it blows away Firefox on my Athlon 700, which is why it's my main browser.

If it wasn't so dog slow, I'd prefer Firefox. It has some really useful plugins and I can configure it exactly how I want, where Opera just doesn't give me those options.

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Re:Based on a CVS tag.... nice joke.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 11, 2006 11:02 PM

So, if M$ can get their act together enough for IE7 there might be no reason at all for me to help people switch.



Firefox is the lesser of the evils.



Mozilla may not be completely free, but at least you can take the source, make a completely free version and tell Mozilla to screw themselves!



Plus I don't think I.E.7 is going to run particularly well on my GNU/Linux system<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:D

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Re:Based on a CVS tag.... nice joke.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 12:13 AM
mozilla is completely free, unless you demand the freedom to commit identity theft. mozilla has their rules as to what they allow themselves to be associated with, and what they don't. imagin if someone was to make a porn movie and list me as the producer. If someone would do that I would sue the shirt off their back. same if someone were to take old clothes I gave away, dress like me, act like me and go around doing things in my name. debian is doing the later, and the mozilla folks aren't happy that someones taking their old stuff and using it to pretend to be mozilla.

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Just put it into 'non-free'

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 11, 2006 07:29 PM
It's that easy.

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Re:Just put it into 'non-free'

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 11, 2006 11:51 PM
No it's not. The Mozilla libraries are the basis of quite a bit of open source projects in Debian.

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Re:Just put it into 'non-free'

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 01:26 AM
Stuff in non-free still has to be legally distributable by debian -- Mo$illa Corp are claiming that debian can't distribute at all so it's not allowed in non-free either.

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Re:Just put it into 'non-free'

Posted by: Administrator on October 12, 2006 02:22 AM
Debian can distribute it if they use the non-free graphics that mozilla provides. It's been proposed to put a non-free official version into the non-free repos and then IceWeasel into main

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The reasons of Debian's unhappiness

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 11, 2006 08:29 PM
The media should be clearer as to why the Debian folks are unhappy with the situation. It is not a problem that firefox is trademarked, or that you have to change the name if you heavily modify the application. The DFSG explicitely allows this. The real problem is twofold:

1) the MoCo wants and unprecedented level of control on the details of packaging. More specifically, they disallow the practice of backporting security patches, which has been Debian's way since it exists, and is technically sound.

2) Debian previously had an agreement with the MoCo. The MoCo are now changing the rules of the game 6 months before Debian's release. Even if not made on purpose, this is very annoying and unprofessional.

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Re:The reasons of Debian's unhappiness

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 12:03 AM
Hi:

1: No, they don't disallow backporting security patches. They just recommend that you get the patch checked in to mozilla.org CVS before shipping it, so all distros can benefit, and everyone agrees on the fix. If you refuse that, and really just want to fix your own fork, you can do that, but then you will need to let mozilla.org approve your specific patches first. Sounds fair to me.

2: Yeah, but that agreement was a temporary one, and they said so when they made it... Debian should have been expecting this. 6 months? I could understand people's anger if they did it a couple of weeks before, but 6 months? That's a looong time before the release if you ask me. Heh, imagine if Ubuntu also wanted more than 6 months notice before their next release...<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;-)

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Re:The reasons of Debian's unhappiness

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 07:25 AM
Now that you mentioned Ubuntu, I think Mozilla's new trademark policy affects also them -- at least the "Long Term Support" releases like Dapper Drake.

Dapper will support Firefox 1.5 many years after Mozilla has dropped the official support for it. And waiting for Mozilla people's approval will make fixing Firefox's security problems in Dapper slower and more difficult. So also Ubuntu has a good reason to be unhappy with Mozilla.

It'll be interesting to see what Ubuntu's reaction will be.

 

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Both

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 11, 2006 09:08 PM
I understand both of Debian and Mozilla.
Mozilla make the Firefox code free, open source, that is nice. But the Firefox brand is very important, and I understand that Mozilla wants to protect it.

I also understand that Debian has their DFSG, and they cant abandon it, they must keep to it strictly.

So it seems rebranding is the only solution unless there will be a compromise somewhere. Because Mozilla wont give up the Firefox trademark and Debian wont give up DFSG.

Ubuntu got pretty strict guidelines too, don't they?

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Let's rename the package and forget about that!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 11, 2006 11:48 PM
I'm a Debian user and I will keep using the browser, doesn't matter the name of it.

We, as Debian users, won't lose anything, Mozilla is the one that will lose; they're forcing to split their userbase because of their stupid attitude (btw, I didn't like Mozilla since they change the name of their Phoenix browser to Firebird, even when they know in advance another open source project with that name already exists).

I only hope Debian developers get a better logo than the blue globe; it's really ugly<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:)

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Re:Mozilla violating the Four Freedoms

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 11, 2006 10:22 PM
The last time I checked it out, getting stuff into the Linux kernel required approval from, er, Linus Torvalds.

Ah, violating GNU freedom 3 - right let's get the Debian team to fork Linux and call it "mote" and then they can remove it from their eye before they go for Mozilla's speck of dust.

The parent post was coherent and well argued. You can use the code but if you want to call it Firefox, Mozilla get to decide what's in it.

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Re:Mozilla violating the Four Freedoms

Posted by: Administrator on October 11, 2006 10:38 PM
There are forks of linux, the kernel and they are just called "linux-mm" or whatever. It wouldn't be possible to create, say, "Firefox-Debian" or something like that.
So, as I stated above, Debian has only the choice to drop the brand "Firefox" entirely.

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Alrighty then... Iceweasel it is!

Posted by: Administrator on October 17, 2006 04:15 PM
From now on I will use Iceweasel, and Mozilla will never see me again.

Mozilla can eat their trademark just like MS Internet Explorer eats theirs. When it gets right down to it, there is a certain amount of convergence here, and I'm all too happy to be a PROUD Iceweasel user.

Tough munching for anyone who disagrees.

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Why not switch to Seamonkey?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 11, 2006 10:48 PM
And put ff in non-free. Or is it under the exact same license?

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Re:Why not switch to Seamonkey?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 01:19 AM
It's under the same license, that's why.

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how can Debian do identity theft!?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 12:03 AM
if you take the FREE-Open-Source code of Mozilla Firefox and change it you create a new product. Mozilla refuses to let anyone falsely label any non-Mozilla product as a Mozilla product. Debian changed Mozilla Firefox and turned it into something else. now they are trying to label their own product ("Debian Firefox"?) as a Mozilla product. that is con & identity theft. I did not know that part of FOSS is the right to pretend you are something you aren't. if it is so, then I don't want to be part of it. I don't want to be part of a movement that says that using my social security number (/"trademark") and pulling money (/"users"/"reputation") out of the bank (/"market") in my name is basic freedom that everyone should have. such a claim in encitment for commiting serious fellony.

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Re:how can Debian do identity theft!?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 02:19 AM
But they aren't turning it into something else, they're backporting security updates.

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Re:how can Debian do identity theft!?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 02:52 AM
why do they need tp backport it? is it because of changes they made? and what is backporting? (I really don't know).

they changed the graphics and from what this artical says they make there own paches to the program. they are changing it. that is good, but if mozilla doesn't want to associate themselves with the changes then thats their right and the trademark is what identifies them so using it on a product means that the product is part of Mozilla and Mozilla don't want the modified version as part of them unless they approve it. I don't want someone giving me money unless I know its legal, because I can get in trouble. I don't wan't people putting girly funiture in my house because I just don't like it. etc, etc. but, most important of all, If I don't want to accept a gift, you can't force me. if you put property under my name, I might not want it. you need my concent. I may allow you to take the blueprints to my house so you can make duplicate, but thats your property under your name and your responsibility. If you changed anything from my blueprints, well, that ain't my problem and suit yourself. I'm not paying for the damage.

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Re:how can Debian do identity theft!?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 03:07 AM
You have completely missed the issue here. Debian's intent is not to change the source code or deliver a new product. Their intent is to deliver "Firefox." However, because the logo is trademarked, they can't deliver the logo with "Firefox." Furthermore, Debian has a standardized way of delivering software and updates. Mozilla objects to this delivery process and wants to control it. They also object to the use of the name "Firefox" without the logo.

Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, clashes are unavoidable. Mozilla and Debian both have good reasons for their positions. In the short run, this will hurt Mozilla more than Debian. Debian users will be quite happy to use "Iceweasel." In the long run, there will be more confusion and less people using "Firefox," which will hurt all of us in the end.

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Re:how can Debian do identity theft!?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 05:37 AM
yeah, I usualy talk first and think later. I was hoping no one would notice. my real problem isn't with Debian, but with those who (I'm pausing here because I don't know how to continue) think that freedom to misuse tradmarks is part of free software. as far as I get it Debians problem is with copyrights over the artwork including the logo. but Mozilla has the right not to associate itself with modified code because it isn't the code it released and all.

Im really sorry for getting caried away. it hapens to me a lot and then I piss off good people.

on the lighter side: some problem with windows XP caused half the free space on my hard drive (400 - 450 MB) to vanish, disappear, exist no more.

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Re:how can Debian do identity theft!?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 13, 2006 11:55 AM
The problem is that Mozilla won't let anyone call the program "FireFox" unless
1. It includes their "official" FireFox artwork, which they will not allow to be modified.
and
2. Any modifications to the code are under their control.
These restrictions are not compatible with Debian's free software guidelines, although the code itself is free. Therefore, the name "FireFox" has to go. Makes sense to me.

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Re:Mozilla violating the Four Freedoms

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 01:29 AM
It seems the biggest sticking point is NOT the code changes they want make, but is the "non-free" images. It does cascade down to the code changes, but the biggest issue at hand is that Debian believes the images are not free enough and Mozilla says you cannot use the name without the images.

From my vantage point, Mozilla seems to be less concerned with some code changes than with the trademarking requirements (artwork goes with name).

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Epiphany Anyone?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 06:46 AM
Why doesnt debian just not include firefox. If Mozilla Corp. wants their firefox browser out there they can host their own debian repository, do their own patches to maintain that MC quality. Just make epiphany the browser default on Gnome and Konqueror the default on KDE. If users want firefox they can add Mozilla Corp. repositories themselves.

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Re:Epiphany Anyone?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 14, 2006 06:12 AM
And what about those of us who do not use either KDE, or Gnome? I use fvwm over X Windows and do not use any Desktop Environment. What browser will Debian give me in this case?

I am a long time Debian user, about 8 years, since I started using Linux. From all that I have seen and heard, and briefly tried other distros, I want to stay with Debian, but I have to agree with Mozilla on this issue. I can, to some extent, understand Debians reasoning behind the DFSG, but I frequently find it annoying.

I have software that Debian was perfectly happy to put in the distro, but the documentation is mysteriously missing. I was directed to the upstream website for online documentation. With the long release times that Debian sometimes has I can end up with a perfectly working, but older version of the software than that which is documented on the upstream provider's site. This is good for who? Me? Debian? The upstream provider? The answer is no one!

Mozilla has every right to insist that if Debian says it is distributing Mozilla's Firefox that the code should reasonably match what Mozilla puts out and that the logo should match Mozilla's logo. If Debian wants to change the logo then it needs to change the name, and it has the right to do so. This is FOSS and they can do what they want to the code and logo, but not if they still want to use the Firefox name.

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"good user experience"

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 12, 2006 07:10 AM
Mozilla says the crux of the issue is a desire to ensure a quality product and a good user experience across all distribution and vendor lines.

It's kinda funny that both Mozilla and Debian are worried about the user experience.

Mozilla suspects that unauthorized code modifications that Debian developers apply may introduce bugs in the way that Firefox works and this may hit Mozilla's reputation as a quality product.

Debian devs, on the other hand, know from experience that unmodified Firefox breaks other applications. They want to modify Firefox so that it will work well with those other applications. Also, if security patches need to be approved first by the Mozilla people, this would mean that it takes longer time to fix Firefox's security problems in Debian and users would have to use Firefox that might make their whole system insecure.

I can sympathize with Mozilla's position but I think I'll eventually side with Debian -- it'll give me a better user experience if Firefox security problems are fixed as fast as possible and if Firefox doesn't break other applications that I use.

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Flock?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 13, 2006 12:18 AM
Maybe ignorant question, but how is the flock folks able to get away with "their" browser?? And couldn't debian use flock(heh, the browser) instead??

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Re:Flock?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 23, 2006 07:34 PM
By calling it "Flock" instead of "Firefox"?

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No Compromise Solution

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 24, 2006 12:29 AM
There is one solution which requires no compromise on debian's DFSG, Mozilla's trademarks, and user experience:

Mozilla releases the official debian package. This gives them their desired 'quality control'. This "Mozilla Debian Firefox" release also uses official GPL'd artwork, to conform to Debian guidelines, and because Mozilla cannot violate it's own trademark.

I'm sure that the same maintainers could maintain the package on behalf of Mozilla.

Any thoughts?

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Please read the DFSG

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 09, 2007 02:15 PM

Mozilla releases the official debian package.


Who "releases" it is irrelevant. What matters to the DFSG is the rights that end-users get. If you or I can't change the artwork and redistribute the changed version to others, then the package doesn't meet the DFSG and Debian won't include it in the distro.

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