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 Post subject: FAQ: Is my version of Firefox illegal?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:30 am 
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This thread is drawn from the Tete's Atelier: Firefox & Thunderbird private builds thread but this topic comes up quite a bit. My response is intended to apply to all unofficial Firefox builds.

Is this [whatever special version] of Firefox illegal?

    We are not lawyers, but according to my understanding of the license, you can’t distribute something using the Firefox code and call it Firefox. You are welcome (as in the case of IceCat and PaleMoon) to call it something else and use different icons. The point is to avoid product confusion. The exception to this rule is PortableApps because they have worked with Mozilla to get a license.

How can I get a license?

    Having attempted getting a license and from chatting with members of the WinPenPack community, they appear to ignore other requests.

Why?

    Probably because PortableApps is established, has plenty of users, and responds to security concerns. Firefox is very afraid of both losing marketshare and being perceived as insecure.

Will they take legal action against these sites?

    Unlikely. In its life, Mozilla has not been letigious and you don’t foster a community by suing people, especially when Google Chrome is winning in marketshare. It would be an argument in favor of Chrome’s more permissive BSD license, which has no such requirements. (Note that only part of Chrome is actually BSD-licensed, which is why we list it as Freeware.)

    Since in almost every advertisement they put out Firefox posits itself as the open, community browser that responds to users and not corporate interests (e.g. Microsoft and Google are not trustworthy), it seems extremely unlikely they will take action against homebrewed Firefox versions.

Is it really illegal then?

    I don’t know -- I’m not a lawyer and I may not live in the same country as you. How about “not-compliant”?

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 Post subject: Re: FAQ: Is my version of Firefox illegal?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:55 am 
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Where do FF trademarks apply?
They say "US and other countries".
If something is in a place where Mozilla doesn't have trademarks, it doesn't infringe on them. Still, in some locations where FF has them, making a modified distro may be legal. There is no single trademark law, most countries have their own.

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 Post subject: Re: FAQ: Is my version of Firefox illegal?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 1:20 pm 
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m^(2) wrote:
Where do FF trademarks apply?
They say "US and other countries".
If something is in a place where Mozilla doesn't have trademarks, it doesn't infringe on them. Still, in some locations where FF has them, making a modified distro may be legal. There is no single trademark law, most countries have their own.

Certainly. For those places it would be a non-issue.

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 Post subject: Re: FAQ: Is my version of Firefox illegal?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:20 am 
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Is it really illegal then?

I found one answer to this question when looking into LiberKey’s view of the word “illegal” in reference to accusations by an organization that is not Mozilla:

Quote:
[They have] no mandate from editors whose software are present in LiberKey. They hold copyright and only them have the right to debate of legality when it comes to the use of their product. (source)

True, but not entirely: commercial software resolves problems in court, but open software like these relies on a community to resolve issues. Since acquiring Sun Microsystems, the open source community has watched Oracle discard this reality to its own detriment. Mozilla is now even less likely to take an active stance about small projects that use their code. However, if WinPenPack, LiberKey, or any of the others products get very popular or have a version with a serious and very public security flaw, I expect that policy would change.

Additionally it’s not something they necessarily need to take to court, if Mozilla put out a press release just asking people to, I think many sites would remove references to non-licensed versions.

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