| Friday April 18th 2014

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Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth responds to 208 comments about the Firefox 3 EULA


Ubuntu logoWTF? Mozilla doesn’t need an EULA to protect their trademarks. Aside from the dubious legal position of EULAs, trademarks are protected without the need of licenses or contracts, if you register it, (TM) it, and take steps to stop (actual, current) violators. If their position is that they are protecting specific art (vs. the generic trademarks), then they should use artists willing to public domain their work. Either way, here’s an update from Mr. Ubuntu himself regarding the Firefox 3 EULA debacle posted yesterday

Bug #269656:
AN IRRELEVANT LICENSE IS PRESENTED TO YOU FREE-OF-CHARGE ON STARTUP

I agree that Ubuntu needs to reflect the values of the broader community, and decisions that are taken without a transparent community process undermine that. At the same time, Ubuntu needs to be able to engage effectively with companies that don’t – and can’t – operate transparently. And we sometimes need to engage confidentially in order to achieve our public goals.

For example, at the moment, we’re in detailed negotiations with a company that makes a lot of popular hardware to release their drivers as free software – they are currently proprietary. It would not be possible to hold those negotiations if every step of the way turned into a public discussion. And yet, engaging with that company both to make sure Ubuntu works with its hardware and also to move them towards open source drivers would seem to be precisely in keeping with our community values.

In this case, we have been holding extensive, sensitive and complex conversations with Mozilla. We strongly want to support their brand (don’t forget this is one of the few companies that has successfully taken free software to the dragons lair) and come to a reasonable agreement. We want to do that in a way which is aligned with Ubuntu’s values, and we have senior representatives of the project participating in the dialogue and examining options for the implementation of those agreements. Me. Matt Zimmerman. Colin Watson. Those people have earned our trust.

It’s all too easy to say “screw Mozilla we’ll use Iceweasel”. Well, IMO that would be a weaselly thing to do. Mozilla and Firefox are enormous contributors to the digital commons and we owe it to them to figure out
how to be supportive of what they are doing. There are limits to that debt, but we are well within those limits so far.

We continue to push towards an implementation that meets Mozilla’s requirements and is smooth for our users. There have been some good suggestions here. We do have the option to move away from Firefox (as you can see we have already invested in some of the work needed to have that alternative in a browser). I am absolutely opposed to calling an unbranded firefox “Ubuntu Browser” (because we didn’t write it) and I’m
equally opposed to calling it “Iceweasel” (because our inability to agree with Mozilla is not also a rationale to belittle or demean them). I very much hope we won’t have to use it as the default.

Mark

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