[Fsf-friends] Re: The last GPL?

Mahesh T. Pai paivakil@[EMAIL-PROTECTED]
Sat Jun 9 09:48:04 IST 2007

"Ramanraj K" <ramanraj.k at gmail.com>

> On the contrary, the scary thing about the proposed GPL is that
> users, developers or distributors could be hauled up for not so
> obvious trademark violations.  Trademarks are just proprietary shit
> - you would not want to touch them.  Free software has nothing much
> to do with trademarks, warranties, income tax, sales tax/vat,
> central excise, and a lot of other things, which may be attracted in
> various jurisdictions under various circumstances, but do not
> concern us at all.

``If you modify it, you should call it something else'' is a perfectly
acceptable condition; it does not  reduce the freeness of the software
in any manner  whatsoever. (it may confuse users,  like ``absence'' of
Mozilla or  Firefox in Debian  but that does  ot make to  software any
less non-free).

Such  explicit  conditions  -  that  modified files  should  be  named
differently already exist in the Latex Publix License.

The LPPL  1.3a and  1.2 licenses are  free licenses,  but incompatible
with the GPL.

See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/license-list.html

Ditto with  GPL'ed software carrying  trademarked names. I do  not see
why  project ``foo'' includes  a condition  that modified  versions of
``foo'' should carry a different name.

> Free  software  packages need  and  could  use only  non-proprietary
> generic  names  for  identification,  and  inviting  people  to  use
> trademarks for  identifying the package  itself is needles  and only
> promotes the proprietary culture.  Worse, it could easily be used to
> defeat copyleft freedom.

OTOH, free  software need  to have  AT LEAST a  marginal claim  on the
names of the programs it provides.

Please  the consider  of impact  it will  have on  users if  some evil
corporation launches a complete (as in complete with kernel, browsers,
officer  suite, etc)  OS  under  a proprietary  license  and names  it
``GNU''. Users  will be  utterly confused, and  the community  will be
helpless to do anything about it.

That said, free software projects should have a very liberal trademark
policy, if the project claims trade mark on names of its binaries.

Red Hat  (and most  commercial distributions) have  a very  good Trade
mark policy in  place - have a tight  control over commercial versions
(like RHEL and SuSe),  and allow non-commercial variants (like Fedora,
and OpenSuSe).

Mozilla foundation  and the GNOME foundations too  claim trademerks on
their names. Linus too claims trademark on the name linux.

Such control over the names,  is, IMHO necessary - but projects should
have the flexibility in controllin the names.

> Clause 7 makes room for clauses, which could be used to force you to
> use or  not use alleged  trademarks, and police  modifications.  The
> clause has  the potential to  cause distension in the  free software
> community  and the greatest  danger is  that it  would make  the GPL
> irrelevant in the free software community.

I am not so sure as you are on this, but now that you point out this
out, I will re-read the clause.

> TRIPs was negotiated in 1994, much after GPLv2 was published in
> 1991.  After TRIPs, computer programs may be protected only as
> literary works, and misapplication of patent law to computer
> programs deserves to be challenged if any of the signatories to
> TRIPs continue its practice.

The signatories to the respective treaties do not share your view; and
we  are severly  handicapped  by the  official  interpretation of  the
treaties.   Unfortunately, it  is the  official  interpretations which
will  be upheld in  courts of  law, and  we will  have to  accept that
constraints for the time being.

>It is mostly the proprietary software companies that
> support the illegal practice of "software patents", and any clause in
> the GPL now, as though "Software Patents" are legitimate, would only
> operate as estoppel against authors who wish to question the practice
> in the US, discouraging the use of the GPL.  "Software patents" are an
> illegitimate practice and clauses based on such a practice could only
> be seen as opposed to public policy.

 Mahesh T. Pai <<>> http://paivakil.blogspot.com/
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