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Re: [GNU-linux-libre] Trademark licenses, example in Firefox

From: Brett Smith
Subject: Re: [GNU-linux-libre] Trademark licenses, example in Firefox
Date: Wed, 03 Aug 2011 14:33:40 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv: Gecko/20110617 Thunderbird/3.1.11

On 07/21/2011 11:49 AM, Rubén Rodríguez wrote:
> So, what we have here is a program under a proper free software license
> (ignoring the fact that it recommends non-free stuff) that has actual
> distribution restrictions. I think trademark licenses that say "if you
> modify it, you have to rename it" are ok, but this one says "if you
> don't rename it, you can't distribute it for a fee".
> * Does it render the program non-free?
> * How does it affect the software license it ships under?

Unfortunately, such a restriction in a trademark license does make the
software nonfree.  As we've said in the past, a requirement that you
rename the software when you modify it is fine -- but a requirement that
you rename it before you distribute it commercially goes too far.
Changing the name of a program should be straightforward enough for
anybody who modifies the software (and if it isn't, that can be
problematic too); the same isn't true for people who simply want to
distribute it.

However, this doesn't affect the software license at all.  So if you
*can* do the work to remove the trademark from the program, you have
free software that you can distribute without these restrictions.
That's exactly what GNU IceCat and friends do.

> * Do you know of any other trademark license that restricts
> distribution or usability?

I'm not aware of any.

Best regards,

Brett Smith
License Compliance Engineer, Free Software Foundation

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