Monday 15 September 2008


Random thoughts on the Firefox branding controversy:
  • I want a LiveCD without EULA clicking.
  • Is Canonical mutilating Firefox beyond recognition? Probably not.
  • Is Firefox abusing our community branding effort? Probably.
  • Canonical might be feeling pressure from corporate customers (Dell) to keep the Firefox brand.
  • Is pressure really so high that it won't allow for branding abrowser as "Firefox browsing technology improved" to non-geeks, while acknowledging to geeks it's basicly the same as before?
  • Firefox dependencies (or any free software project for that matter) could theoretically start a trademark war. I'm quite confident they won't.
  • I wish legal wouldn't equal trouble almost all of the time.


Anonymous said...

Firefox is one of the few applications for Linux that is on par with others of its type. I like using Ubuntu and I like them trying to make Linux mainstream. I want a competitor to Micosoft. New users may have used Firefox on Windows - 'yes, Firefox is on Ubuntu as well, great'. If its called some other name - 'what the hell is this?'. If Mozilla is forcing a EULA for Ubuntu too keep the Firefox branding, well, so be it. I am coming from the point of view that I want a competitor to Microsoft and I want more users to use Linux. Firefox is a program familar to Windows users, fundamental to users switching or trying to switch over. I don't like the EULA in there, but from where I am looking from, click yes and move on. There are bigger battles to fight. Also, this is NOT the start of a slippery slope. Each case will need to be judged individually with respect to the bigger picture.

Anonymous said...

This is not any different than the Ubuntu branding issue. Ubuntu doesn't want folks using it's brand name without permission. They even take it further to claim that no domain can have ubuntu or buntu in the domain, even when a completely different business.

Clicking a EULA is not really that big of a deal. But this is the issue that you get with branding. "Not quite" free and open source software. Why can I say that? Because the work required to remove branding if you just want to distribute something, can be enormous. You are allowed to distribute our software, EXCEPT for these parts that contain the branding.

If we are going to have those restrictions, how about moving the branding to modules and files? "Don't want to use our branding? No problem, just replace these images here and these config files there." Then we could call the software free.

Anonymous said...

"This is not any different than the Ubuntu branding issue."

This totally is. Take an average trademark borrower like Fluxbuntu, that isn't official. Fluxbuntu is not in constant contact with Canonical over "branding issues". Canonical isn't requesting Fluxbuntu submit every change to Mozilla for permission. Of course, -buntu is a harder trademark to defend.

And this isn't a slippery slope because I feel the end result of any slip will be a fierce determination to summit.

Anonymous said...

Thing is, Mozilla has already approved Ubuntu use of the Firefox trademark, so why on earth would the user have to agree to a EULA? You should have permission to use the trademark when redistributing the software, not when using it.
Having to read and accept a EULA makes Ubuntu Linux for lawyers.

Anonymous said...

It is totally different in your view. Not totally different in the requirement and end results.

Requirement: To use our branding, you have to have our permission and do things our way. We are able to decline your use of our trademark, even if we have already approved it in the past.

Result: Less than Free and Open Source Software. Or nearly, but not quite, Free and Open Source Software.

But I do see where you are coming from. I agree that -buntu cannot be defended, nor though can Ubuntu unless in the operating system industry. I could make a mechanic shop called Ubuntu or Firefox and that would not cause brand confusion, which is the purpose of trademarks and branding.

In the long run though, these requirements, since they are difficult to code out of a product, make it much harder to be free and open source, because changing anything requires teams, just to distribute nearly the same product. The same product minus the branding.

I do appreciate the need for different branding in order to not be blamed for a downstream change that causes issues. So for my projects, this has really highlighted some serious needs. For instance, all branding will be in separate, easily changeable config files. Additionally I will allow the statements "Based on Aoirthoir's Wonderous Program" or some other statement to be attached, but one that indicates the program has changes. This will allow folks to know that *essentially* they are getting my software, but it might be a bit different.

Anonymous said...

Debian avoided this years ago. Why doesn't Ubuntu just copy yet another thing from Debian and replace firefox with iceweasel or icecat already???

Anonymous said...

"If we are going to have those restrictions, how about moving the branding to modules and files? "Don't want to use our branding? No problem, just replace these images here and these config files there." Then we could call the software free."

That's already the case. You can use the [enable/disable]-official-branding switch when building.

Anonymous said...

Then Ubuntu and everyone else should just do that and end the issue. When enough folks do it then everyone will know it's the same browser as Firefox, just with a different name.