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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Renting GPL software

From: Rob Myers
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Renting GPL software
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 21:32:35 +0000
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20071022)

Jon Grant wrote:

RMS+Eben weren't interested in fixing up GPLv3 to prevent trademark
issues (like Firefox, CentOS needing to de-brand RedHat etc). So may
not really a Free Software issue in light of them not acknowledging it
as such, or only in some people's opinions at least. (I thought they
should have fixed up GPLv3 to prevent such issues)

Trademark abuse is an issue for Free Culture, and some reform is needed, but I don't regard trademarks as a Free Software issue. You can remove them with a Perl script. They are just a suboptimal build phase. ;-)

Various licences require that derivatives be well identified. Forks often rename themselves, with good reason. Trademarks are an extension of that principle.

MJ Ray wrote:

> I don't think trademark licensing should be included in the copyright
> licence, but then I don't think patent licensing should either and
> that's in GPLv3.

Patent licensing (and opposition to DRM law) should be in the GPLv3 as the GPLv3 is a Free Software licence, not a copyright licence. Free Software is its content, copyright licencing is only part of its form.

Patents (and DRM law) affect the performance of software, trademarks only the appearance. As an artist I am aware that there are all sorts of interesting cases where the appearance and functionality of executable software combine, but this will not usually be the case for general purpose software tools, and is vanishingly unlikely for trademarks.

Debian can remove the trademarks from Firefox to produce Iceweasel, which has the same functionality but different appearance. They cannot remove the patented algorithms or DRM from Windows Media Player (or whatever) and produce Iceplayer with different appearance or the same appearance.

I know that for reasons of principle and strategy we are unlikely to agree on these matters.

- Rob.

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