Do trademark restrictions make software non-free?

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strypey
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Joined: 05/14/2015

In this thread on Trisquel-users:
https://trisquel.info/en/forum/abrowser-7201-wont-load-after-update

... a discussion started about the freedom status of the Palemoon browser.

MagicBanana:
> See https://www.palemoon.org/redist.shtml

Calher:
> Palemoon is proprietary.

I don't agree with this interpretation. Palemoon are not asserting any copyright restrictions over their fork of the Mozilla code. Rather, they are asserting trademark restrictions over their name and logo, so that forks can't be passed off as the original.

Everyone can still make use of all four freedoms with the Palemoon source code, fork distributors just need to use a unique name and logo for their fork. This serves the user, for whom it is useful to know when they are downloading Firefox (as distributed by Mozilla), when they are downloading Palemoon (Firefox modified by Moonchild), and when they are downloading Fork X (Palemoon modified by Developer Y).

As Stallman pointed out a like time ago, getting confused between copyright and trademark issues is one of the many negative consequences of the "intellectual property" propaganda term.

Magic Banana

I am a member!

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Joined: 07/24/2010

Indeed, copyright and trademark are not to be confused. Nevertheless, in this case, the trademark policy is used to impose restriction on the redistribution of exact copies. It should not do that (it is a matter of copyright, not trademark). But it does.

The very first clause of https://www.palemoon.org/redist.shtml prohibits charging for distributing copies:
1. There is NO CHARGE for the download or distribution of the browser package.
It is therefore not permitted if, without limitation:
a. You charge for the download of the binary packages (e.g. paid hosting service, pay-per-download, subscription, etc.) or access to them (password protected sites/archives/etc.)
b. You charge for redistribution rights of the browser binaries, yourself (you have no rights to it)
c. You charge for a physical medium like a CD or DVD. Example: If you provide a "cover disk" with a printed magazine, that is considered a "no charge" item (free bonus item with the magazine) and is therefore allowed. If you provide a disk-based magazine (digital) that includes Pale Moon, the medium itself is paid for and considered a "charge" item, and is therefore not allowed.

I believe (but I am not a lawyer) that it violates that point of the he free software definition:
Freedom to distribute (freedoms 2 and 3) means you are free to redistribute copies, either with or without modifications, either gratis or charging a fee for distribution, to anyone anywhere. Being free to do these things means (among other things) that you do not have to ask or pay for permission to do so.
https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html

jxself
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Joined: 09/13/2010

"I believe (but I am not a lawyer) that it violates that point of the he free software definition:
Freedom to distribute (freedoms 2 and 3) means you are free to redistribute copies, either with or without modifications, either gratis or charging a fee for distribution, to anyone anywhere. Being free to do these things means (among other things) that you do not have to ask or pay for permission to do so.
https://www.gnu.org/philosopDocumentation
Why not recommend Firefox? As explained in our Free Software Definition, all four freedoms must be available on both a commercial and non-commercial basis. Mozilla's trademark policy serves to limit Freedom 2 to gratis distribution only, making the software nonfree. hy/free-sw.html"

Yes, you are correct.

Indeed; trademarks in general don't _have_ to create problems and free software and trademarks can generally co-exist but _specific_ trademark policies can be set up in such a way that they go too far when they start to impose restrictions on the distribution of copies. It serves as a limitation on freedom #2 (the making of exact copies.) The Palemoon trademark policy is very much like what Mozilla does; the FSF has said it makes it non-free: https://lists.nongnu.org/archive/html/gnu-linux-libre/2011-08/msg00014.html and also mentioned in https://directory.fsf.org/wiki/Gnuzilla

"Why not recommend Firefox? As explained in our Free Software Definition, all four freedoms must be available on both a commercial and non-commercial basis. Mozilla's trademark policy serves to limit Freedom 2 to gratis distribution only, making the software nonfree."

The trademark policy around Palemoon is doing the same thing.

andyprough
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Joined: 02/12/2015

> The Palemoon trademark policy is very much like what Mozilla does; the FSF has said it makes it non-free: https://lists.nongnu.org/archive/html/gnu-linux-libre/2011-08/msg00014.html and also mentioned in https://directory.fsf.org/wiki/Gnuzilla

Palemoon's developers give the basic browser away freely with the Basilisk project. But their reasoning for restrictive trademarks on Palemoon itself are that people were making bad versions of Palemoon, possibly with malware, and users were trying to demand support for these bad versions from the Palemoon project. The Palemoon devs are saying "you can do what you want with the code, but you can't call it Palemoon, because that creates a support nightmare for us."

I can see their point. There must be some way to deal with this issue? Libreoffice seems to deal with it by making their code so hard to compile that most people don't bother with it (my opinion after building LO a few times, a real headache).

jxself
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Joined: 09/13/2010

"The Palemoon devs are saying "you can do what you want with the code, but you can't call it Palemoon, because that creates a support nightmare for us.""

If that's all that it said that's a different matter. After all; "Rules about how to package a modified version are acceptable, if they don't substantively limit your freedom to release modified versions, or your freedom to make and use modified versions privately. Thus, it is acceptable for the license to require that you change the name of the modified version, remove a logo, or identify your modifications as yours. As long as these requirements are not so burdensome that they effectively hamper you from releasing your changes, they are acceptable; you're already making other changes to the program, so you won't have trouble making a few more."

But that's not what they do. Rather it has, "If you wish to redistribute the binaries (executable form of the code) of Pale Moon, you are free to do so, with the following limitations ... There is NO CHARGE for the download or distribution of the browser package."

No charge for exact copies has nothing to do with whether people make modified versions and call them Palemoon. It doesn't do anything for people that might modify it to make "bad versions" as you say because this is talking of exactly copies. Identical in every way...

"This license may be updated without notice, so please make sure to check back on occasion if you redistribute the browser in any form."

This also seems problematic that people need to keep checking back for new versions. This seems to imply that people that got copies of the browser under an old version of the license can have their license changed, thus necessitating the need to keep checking back. That raises the matter of:

"In order for these freedoms to be real, they must be permanent and irrevocable as long as you do nothing wrong; if the developer of the software has the power to revoke the license, or retroactively add restrictions to its terms, without your doing anything wrong to give cause, the software is not free."

https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html