Fedora spin from RpmFusion

Matt Domsch Matt_Domsch at dell.com
Sun Sep 30 21:44:38 UTC 2007

On Sun, Sep 30, 2007 at 04:23:33PM -0500, Douglas McClendon wrote:
> Matt Domsch wrote:
> >On Sun, Sep 30, 2007 at 11:55:34AM -0500, Douglas McClendon wrote:
> >>Can trademark guidelines on free software restrict the ability to 
> >>redistribuite bit-for-bit copies of the software, that don't use the 
> >>trademarks in any other way than the fact that they are included in 
> >>those bits?
> >
> >yes, they can, which is why one of the feature of Fedora 8 is to clean
> >up the fedora-logos and redhat-artwork packages, and the addition of
> >the generic-logos package, exactly so one can create a derivative of
> >Fedora using and containing only Free Software, easily, without including
> >the Fedora trademarks.  
> Certainly for derivatives and any other modification, it seems obvious 
> that trademarks are protected.  My question rather involved bundling an 
> unmodified copy of free software with other (free and/or non-free) software.
> My not-a-lawyer hunch is that the nature of free software suggests that 
> it may be redistributed unmodified in any and all manner.  But a hunch 
> is hardly anything to go by.
> My scenario involved supplying the end-user with software that makes it 
> dirt-simple (i.e. a bootloader choice) for the end-user to apply 
> patches.  This is somewhat similar to the ideas I have heard kicked 
> around regarding supplying kernel modules as source along with scripts 
> that make it as simple for the end-user to turn the source into the 
> binary, which for obscure legal reasons could not be distributed as a 
> binary.

AIUI, the obscure legal reasoning seems to be that if the distribution
delivers pre-linked kernel modules, such infringes the kernel's
copyright; but if the linking is done by end users, that it somehow
doesn't infringe that copyright.  I've never been comfortable with
this line of thinking myself.  If true, it feels like passing the
buck, and I grew up in Independence, MO[1].

One challenge to Free Software is that it's based upon copyright
law. The other two pillars of "intellectual property law" are patents
and trademarks, neither of which are often adequately addressed in
copyright licenses, insofar as they're not even mentioned.  GNU GPL v2
does include some text regarding patents; v3 even more so.  So unless
you adequately license patents and trademarks too, copyright licenses
don't convey "all" the rights one might need to do "anything you
want".  GPL doesn't speak to modifications - it's obligations are
incurred at point of distribution of the work, modified or not.

[1] Home of Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States.
Famous for the saying "the buck stops here".

Matt Domsch
Linux Technology Strategist, Dell Office of the CTO
linux.dell.com & www.dell.com/linux

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