Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 11th Oct 2006 14:46 UTC, submitted by brewin
Mozilla & Gecko clones As previously reported, 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. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols also discusses the issue.
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Hubble bubble
by moleskine on Wed 11th Oct 2006 15:56 UTC
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This seems to have become a surprisingly divisive issue, whatever the pros or cons on either side. This is Ian Murdock, one of Debian's founders:

"Steven is right on the money with this rant. This is so maddeningly stupid Iím embarrassed to be even remotely associated with this."

It's hard not to agree that it's pretty crazy to do away with the name most associated with taking open source mainstream. A name is a powerful thing and "Iceweasel" is a naff substitute, really. Just my 2 cents, but maybe Debian could have agreed to Mozilla's suggestions, kept the name, and then put Firefox in the non-free folder of their repositories.

There seem to have been quite a lot of articles about Debian on the tech sites in the past few months, and almost all of them have been rather critical. Has Debian always been this unpopular? Sigh.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Hubble bubble
by stestagg on Wed 11th Oct 2006 11:54 UTC in reply to "Hubble bubble"
stestagg Member since:

They can't put firefox into nonfree AND use it as the default browser, that would break the whole free software ideal.
It may sound like a stupid dispute, but it is better to get the details hammered out now, rather than in the courts. From what I've read, Mozilla are trying to do something that is important, and the idea of keeping a central (quality) control of a particular piece of free software should be discussed and proper methods defined.

Too many distributions have had to pull releases / cut distribution based on legal disputes, Debian can't afford to do that.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Hubble bubble
by da_Chicken on Wed 11th Oct 2006 16:57 UTC in reply to "Hubble bubble"
da_Chicken Member since:

You should also read Canonical employee Matthew Garrett's response to Ian's blog entry. IMO, SJVN and Ian express one-sided opinions but Matthew is "right on the money" here:

"Iím not going to criticise Debian for making the choice thatís consistent with what theyíre best known for - making choices based on freedom and technical merit rather than marketing."

Reply Score: 5

Trademark and licensing
by ThanhLy on Wed 11th Oct 2006 16:10 UTC
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Remember XFree86? The changes in the 4.4 license upset enough people that many distros switched to X.Org.

"Which states that you now need to include a statement about the origins of XFree86 *and* a copyright notice in any derivative works."

So the nature of open source gives us options and alternatives. Maybe the Debian people are right in avoiding trademarks and branding issues. Case in point: the KIllustrator maintainer was sued because some law firm thought the name hurts Adobe's Illustrator product's image or some such.

If Debian can legally re-brand the Firefox codebase to meet their social contract, fine, let them do it. Lest they get sued for improperly using someone else's brand.

Reply Score: 3

Member since:

Well... Debian doesnt need to include Firefox with its distro... it can still include Mozilla/Sea monkey... cause most of the users prefer to download packages from net... they can always download firefox on their own.

Reply Score: 2

Devilotx Member since:

I was going to say the same thing,

Switch back to Seamonkey, Konqueror or Epiphany as the default browser and put the full Firefox into the non-free section for install?

Why fork something as well known and respected as firefox?

I don't want to use Iceweasel, I just don't, I'd rather my Debian Servers and Ubuntu Desktops come without Firefox and I have to install it with Synaptic or Apt-get and just avoid this whole mess.

Why no one looks at this as an option, I'll never know. Everyone jumps on the "OMG WE MUST CHANGE THE NAME"

linux users can handle apt-get install mozilla-firefox to get the flaming fox installed.

I'm all set with Iceweasel. I can deal with Swiftfox as a spinoff, but not iceweasel... keep Firefox as firefox!

Reply Score: 4

Firefox Icon
by Jody on Wed 11th Oct 2006 16:20 UTC
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I thought patches were the reason Mozilla would not sanction the release under the Firefox name, if refusal to use the official Artwork is all that is standing in the way then why won't Debian use it?

Mozilla: "Firefox name is permitted only if accompanied by its logo, icons, and other artwork"

So the Firefox artwork has a non-free license, big deal. They have a right to protect the artwork like they have a right to protect the Firefox name.

I think Debian is being petty here.

Edited 2006-10-11 16:26

Reply Score: 4

RE: Firefox Icon
by snowbender on Wed 11th Oct 2006 19:16 UTC in reply to "Firefox Icon"
snowbender Member since:

So the Firefox artwork has a non-free license, big deal. They have a right to protect the artwork like they have a right to protect the Firefox name.

Of course they have that right. The point is that the non-free license for the Firefox artwork really is a big deal for Debian. Debian wants to be a completely free operating system.

Debian is not being petty, Debian is sticking to its ideals.

I can understand both Mozilla's point of view regarding branding, and Debian's point of view. I also think the rename is the best solution for Debian (and Mozilla). With the rename, they can independently decide which patches they add to the official firefox code, without first needing to get permission from Mozilla. I hope this does not result in a real fork, however. (and I don't think that's the intention of the Debian developers) I hope they just keep using the official firefox code, but with the rename and any patches they think are worthwhile.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Firefox Icon
by Jody on Wed 11th Oct 2006 20:01 UTC in reply to "RE: Firefox Icon"
Jody Member since:

The point is that the non-free license for the Firefox artwork really is a big deal for Debian

I guess this is where I disagree with Debian. The logo is trademarked, just like the Firefox name.

They seem to have no issue with using names that are trademarked, but they refuse to use a trademarked logo? (Linux is a trademark of Linus T.)

Even the name Debian is trademarked.

The logo is as much a part of the brand as the name and it I think they are entirely within their right to trademark it.

I'll bet my lunch that Firefox is not the only open source application being passed around that holds a trademark on their logo too.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Firefox Icon
by B. Janssen on Wed 11th Oct 2006 23:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Firefox Icon"
B. Janssen Member since:

Posted by "snowbender": >>The point is that the non-free license for the Firefox artwork really is a big deal for Debian<<

Posted by Jody: >I guess this is where I disagree with Debian. The logo is trademarked, just like the Firefox name.<

The point is, it is a licensing issue, not a trademark issue. That's not the same -- and the point of the lawyer in the article.

Edit: fixed quotes

Edited 2006-10-11 23:19

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Firefox Icon
by Michael on Thu 12th Oct 2006 00:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Firefox Icon"
Michael Member since:

As I understand it...

Debian is not just a product, it's a base for development. Anyone can take Debian and - provided they don't touch non-free - modify and re-distibute it as much as they like without fear of breaching a license.

If someone modifies the Firefox artwork, they breach Mozilla's license. If Firefox goes into non-free, deriviative works can't incorporate it (unless they treat it as a special case and take on any legal hassles themselves). Therefore Debian are forking it to create a completely free version that everyone can use.

Reply Score: 2

Some people get all upset...
by h3rman on Wed 11th Oct 2006 17:26 UTC
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... about Debian, as if they are forced to use Debian or something and shoving people the IceWeasel down their throats.
Whereas in fact, noone forces anybody to use Debian, nor Firefox or Iceweasel. Although the Iceweasel logo is terribly designed, Debian has the right to do this - if not the duty - by their own perfectly valid, harmless, be it orthodox principles, and you're free to go or stay with Debian GNU/Linux.
It's just a browser. It's just a distro.

Edited 2006-10-11 17:44

Reply Score: 3

No big deal
by da_Chicken on Wed 11th Oct 2006 17:45 UTC
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It's not like Debian and Ubuntu would forbid their users from installing the official Firefox binaries. There are plenty of guides available if you prefer to use the official Firefox version on your Debian or Ubuntu system. The choice is all yours. Just be aware that you may break other applications by installing a non-native package.

If the problem is just that you want the official Firefox icon, it can be easily extracted from the official Firefox package for further use. Or you may want to download the Gentoo-style Firefox icon (and maybe resize it in GIMP). IMO, the Ubuntu-made IceWeasel icon looks quite cute. ;-)

Reply Score: 1

by viator on Wed 11th Oct 2006 18:13 UTC
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howbout we use flock instead!

Reply Score: 1

It seems to me....
by Moochman on Thu 12th Oct 2006 20:27 UTC
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that this is all one big stunt by Debian to get Firefox to change the name. They're being petty and doing it out of spite to get back at the Firefox people and their petty demands, not because they really want to make a fork. It's all about putting the pressure on and causing a hubbub. "Iceweasel???" Come on, that's practically hand-selecting the most insulting name imaginable in order to garner a response.

Which side will give in first? That remains to be seen. One thing is certain in my mind: Debian will regret it if they end up having to support/develop this petty facade of a Firefox fork for much longer. IMO they should have taken a more diplomatic route instead of being so spiteful and hotheaded.

my 2 cents.

Reply Score: 1