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Mozilla Admits Firefox EULA Is Flawed 312

Posted by kdawson
from the sudden-outbreak dept.
darthcamaro writes "Mozilla has now come around and is taking seriously the concerns of Ubuntu and others about the Firefox EULA, which we discussed vigorously the other day. In fact Mozilla told InternetNews.com that the EULA itself is flawed and will be replaced with something else. Quoting Mozilla Chairperson Mitchell Baker from the article: 'There is a need for something, something to explain the license[.] I'm not sure I would call it a EULA because that has a meaning to many people of adding restrictions to software and we won't be doing that. We'll be having a license agreement much as Red Hat has a license agreement that says the software is available under the GPL and don't use our trademarks et cetera. So we'll have a license agreement but we won't think of it as a EULA.'"
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Mozilla Admits Firefox EULA Is Flawed

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  • by spikenerd (642677) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @01:27PM (#25028409)
    Do I have to accept it in order to proceed? If I do, it's a EULA no matter what you call it.
  • by XaXXon (202882) <xaxxon@gmaiCHEETAHl.com minus cat> on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @01:29PM (#25028439) Homepage

    You're going to have a License Agreement presented to the End User.. Maybe call it LAEU?

    It's walking like a duck and quacking like a duck.

  • not a EULA eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trybywrench (584843) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @01:29PM (#25028457)
    "So we'll have a license agreement but we won't think of it as a EULA"

    hmm yeah we need some sort of agreement.. an agreement with the user.. that lets them know the terms of our license.. you know for our trademarks and stuff... but not a EULA.

    I wonder if there's an acronym for this user agreement to our license thingy...
    • by pilgrim23 (716938)

      so...
      and Lawyers dance around it jumping through the EULA Hoops?

  • by compumike (454538) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @01:30PM (#25028467) Homepage

    Nobody has to agree to the GPL to use a GPL'ed piece of software -- only to gain additional rights like redistribution. All Mozilla really needs to do is to look at the Trolltech / Qt situation, and then look around and see real alternatives to their product (Opera / WebKit / etc), and they'll wake up and smell the coffee. There isn't enough justification for the EULA hassle just to "explain the license", and that will be worked around by developers and distributions.

    Looks like they missed the point.

    --
    Hey code monkey... learn electronics! Powerful microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

    • by TheSunborn (68004)

      I always wondered about if accepting the gpl is required. If I decline the gpl license, what right does I have to use the software?

      I mean I don't think I have any right to use any software, unless that right is explicit given to me.
      Or is the fact that I am in possession of the software enough to also grant me right to run it?

      If possession is enough, then I can also conclude that any software EULA is invalid, because I can just run the software without accepting the EULA.

      • by Nathanbp (599369) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @01:49PM (#25028783)

        Assuming that you have obtained the software legally (for example, from somehow who is distributing it under the GPL), you need no further rights granted to run it. The GPL gives you the additional right to distribute the software (under the given conditions). However, the GPL also contains some things (like a disclaimer of warranty), which do apply to all end users.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mrchaotica (681592) *

        If I decline the gpl license, what right does I have to use the software?

        The person you got the software from gave you the right to use it, because he accepted the terms of the GPL (or was the copyright holder).

        • by TheSunborn (68004) <tiller&daimi,au,dk> on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @02:47PM (#25029735)

          That was nice of him to do, but how and where exactly did he do that?

          Example: Here http://ftp.gnu.org/pub/gnu/emacs/windows/emacs-21.3-bin-i386.tar.gz [gnu.org] (Sorry, windows binary, but that was the only binary I could find) is a link to emacs. Where does anyone(Other then the gpl itself) grant me the right to run software?

          If the fact that the file is online online and can be downloaded is enough to grant me access to run it,
          can it not then be argued, that I also have the right to run and use the ati drivers(https://a248.e.akamai.net/f/674/9206/0/www2.ati.com/drivers/firegl/firegl_8_502_xp32_driver_only_065657.exe) without accepting the eula?

          This is 2 different files, and I can't see any difference other then the license. And if I reject the license, I should have the same right to use/not use both files.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mrchaotica (681592) *

            Here http://ftp.gnu.org/pub/gnu/emacs/windows/emacs-21.3-bin-i386.tar.gz [gnu.org] (Sorry, windows binary, but that was the only binary I could find) is a link to emacs. Where does anyone(Other then the gpl itself) grant me the right to run software?

            The people running gnu.org granted you the right to run the software, by legally making it available to you.

            The way the GPL comes in is how they became legally able to make it available. Granted, in this case it's because they happen to be the copyright holders, but they

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Wordsmith (183749)

        That you think you need special rights to use the software is a consequence of the EULA-happy environment corporations have been creating for a few decades now.

        If you obtained the software legitimately, you can do anything you want with it, short of unauthorized redistribution (which is prevented by copyright). You can use it in any way you want. If you own a table, you can put your dinner on it, you can stand on it to reach your chandelier, you can barricade your door with it, you can chop it up for firewo

      • by compro01 (777531)

        the GPL has nothing at all to do with simply using the software. Use of the program is covered by freedom 0 of FSF's definition of free software and by that definition, you inherently have the right to run the software and use it for any purpose. You also inherently have freedom 1, the right to study how the program works and adapt it to your needs. This is without agreeing to the GPL.

        The GPL only comes in for freedoms 2 and 3, which you do not otherwise have, the right to redistribute the software and t

    • If you do not agree to the GPL, you cannot use the software. It is as simple as that. The copyright holder allows the user to use the copyrighted material in exchange for the user's promise to abide with the terms of the license (i.e., the GPL).

      This is not mere semantics (well, it is, but it's legally important semantics). This word-mechanism allows the licensor-developer-GPL guy to retain his or her copyright. That copyright is the muscle that empowers the GPL.

      If you don't agree to the GPL, then you ha

    • Nobody has to agree to the GPL to use a GPL'ed piece of software

      That's what the GPL says.

      Then again, plenty of people package installers for GPL software where the GPL is presented as if it were an EULA and the user must indicate acceptance of the GPL in order to install the software.

      (And, except for a legalistic problem with the term "accept", I don't see this as undesirable: you should be aware of what you can do with the license, and what you don't need the license to do, when you get GPL software, or s

  • This isn't an End User License Agreement, it's a license agreement. For, ummmm, the end users.

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @01:31PM (#25028483)

    Must... justify... high priced... lawyers...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In corporate America, high-priced lawyers justify themselves!

  • by penix1 (722987) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @01:31PM (#25028487) Homepage

    "So we'll have a license agreement but we won't think of it as a EULA.'"

    They still don't get it. Anything you have to agree to with an "I agree" button, no matter what they call it, is a EULA.

    • by Toonol (1057698)
      That's the crux. Displaying information about the license isn't the problem. It's the "I Agree" button. The user doesn't have to agree with the license to use the program, they only have to abide by the terms of the license, which I believe only concerns itself with reproduction and distribution.

      If they got rid of the "I Agree" and replaced it with "Continue", "Next", or even "Skip", it wouldn't be a problem.
      • by bberens (965711)
        The following is an excerpt from the GPL: All rights granted under this License are granted for the term of copyright on the Program, and are irrevocable provided the stated conditions are met. This License explicitly affirms your unlimited permission to run the unmodified Program. The GPL explicitly permits the user license to RUN the software. Therefore it's an EULA. This idea of there being a difference between agreeing with a license and abiding by a license is just silly semantics.
        • by Feanturi (99866)
          Not so. I abide by certain Laws whether I agree with them or not, because there are penalties I would face if I broke them. I don't have to agree with them, but I'll abide by them if I know what's good for me. A license agreement is less of an issue in terms of actual real-world penalties, but the language still applies. I don't have to agree with Mozilla's lawyers but that doesn't mean I won't play nice anyway.
        • The GPL explicitly permits the user license to RUN the software.

          You need to look up the difference between "affirm" and "permit."

          This is also an excerpt from the GPL (version 3, to be exact):

          9. Acceptance Not Required for Having Copies.

          You are not required to accept this License in order to receive or run a copy of the Program. Ancillary propagation of a covered work occurring solely as a consequence of using peer-to-peer transmission to receive a copy likewise does not require acceptance. However, nothin

    • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @01:50PM (#25028811) Homepage

      They still don't get it. Anything you have to agree to with an "I agree" button, no matter what they call it, is a EULA.

      According to this [wordpress.com] you will not have to. Summary points:

      • Makes the license grant parallel to the MPL;
      • It has optional terms that govern services provided by Mozilla through the browser (e.g. anti-malware and anti-phishing services). A user may opt of the services and continue using the browser;
      • The license grant excludes trademark rights; and
      • The license doesnt require explicit click through.
  • Not only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @01:36PM (#25028571) Homepage Journal

    Not only do the GPL bits not belong in the EULA, but the trademark bits don't belong in the EULA either. We're not talking about what end users do, because Mozilla has never stopped end users from doing whatever they want. Mozilla is concerned with distributors repacking Mozilla products with changes they don't like, and misrepresenting their trademark.

    They have their license information online. They make it clear to developers how the project can and can not be repackaged while maintaining official branding.

    How does any of that relate to the end user?

    The answer is to completely remove the nag screen from the end user.

  • by Bazman (4849) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @01:36PM (#25028587) Journal

    Lots of software has splash screens, and most people don't have an aneurysm over them. You pop up the brand, mention the trademarks, and in the meantime the software is doing it's thing.

    Nice software has an option to turn off the splash screen. But you will probably see it the first time.

    Clicking through an "agreement" to not violate their trademark/copyright is dumb. I mean, I've never agreed not to murder anyone...

    • I hate splash screens! If I had to see a stupid splash screen every time I started my browser, I'd switch to Konquerer.
  • So, any bets on how long it is going to be before all the people from the last Mozilla EULA thread who were pushing the "C'mon, suck it up, it isn't a big deal, nothing to be done anyway, the average user doesn't care, don't be a freetard" line show up to admit that whining was a useful measure?

    I'm guessing it'll be a while.
    • Or not as long as you think, considering Mozilla hasn't really changed their position anyway. You probably read the title without reading the summary or article. Here's a clue: They still want the EULA, they just won't "think of it as an EULA," and they'll probably call it something different.

      That shouldn't convince you that anything useful has occurred yet, although there is certainly time for Mozilla to see the light.
    • Except that if you read the article, you'd realize you're wrong. :P

  • Informational dialog (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rinisari (521266) * on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @01:38PM (#25028603) Homepage Journal

    If it's simply for the user's information, why not make it open in a tab when the browser is opened for the first time, not an obtrusive dialog box like it is now? It would be like the tab which spawns where there's an automatic update.

    This way, Mozilla can have its "EULA sans mandatory agreement" and the users can simply close the tab if they're not interested in reading the lengthy open source licenses or a summary thereof.

    • I think this is a very good solution - I hope an enterprising denizen of slashdot can get your idea to someone at Mozilla who can do something about it....

    • by Aphoxema (1088507) *

      Why not just a one time splash screen informing the user that the name "Firefox" and the graphics are property of Mozilla and the users should just not fuck with them under penalty of laws most people are already aware of?

  • What is happening? Why this brain-dead action? Why piss off people like this? The Mozilla crowd is being hit hard by WebKit, and this is their answer?

    As usual, when politics get involved, everything goes down the drain.

  • Mitchell's own words (Score:5, Informative)

    by savala (874118) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @01:40PM (#25028635)

    Read Mitchell's own words [lizardwrangler.com].

    I really don't understand why people keep linking to silly "news" sites when there's pretty much always far more comprehensive and accurate information available directly at the source.

  • "We'll be having a license agreement" which I assume I need to agree to in order to use the software, which sounds a lot like a EULA. Unless there is a clause like "if you don't like this agreement you can just ignore it" which I somehow doubt. Personally this annoys the heck out of me because 99% of my software doesn't force me to read the EULA/License/etc, imagine if every time you ran a UNIX utility you had to view/agree to a license. If grep and Galeon don't do it, why does Firefox have to?
  • Mozilla needs to have 2 things. A license notification - this software is free to use and available for redistribution under the GPL - and a warranty agreement - by using this software, you agree it is not covered by any warranty or guarantee, period. Trademark issues in the agreement are useless. Their trademark is already covered by trademark law, and only needs the "TM" symbol next to it for protection. I can't copy someone else's novel or software simply because I didn't "agree" to their copyright. It
    • by Shados (741919)

      Man, they SERIOUSLY need that license notification...considering that last I checked, Firefox wasn't GPL (its MPL) and a lot of people here seem to think it is!

      • by Shados (741919)

        Hrm, its tri-licensed, not just MPL, whoopsies. Anyway, you get the idea.

      • by savala (874118)

        Man, they SERIOUSLY need that license notification...considering that last I checked, Firefox wasn't GPL (its MPL) and a lot of people here seem to think it is!

        It's both. And also LGPL.

        Mozilla source code is (and has been for several years now) completely tri-licensed [mozilla.org]. You can choose whether to use it under the terms of the GPL, the LGPL or the MPL, or any combination thereof.

      • by onefriedrice (1171917) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @02:25PM (#25029363)
        Actually, you're wrong on both.

        1. Mozilla doesn't need a license notification for the GPL because A) Firefox is not licensed under the GPL, and B) Even if it were licensed under the GPL, that license applies to distribution, not use. I'm sure you've probably used GPL software before without having to agree to anything beforehand...

        2. Mozilla should not use the trademark (TM) symbol as a means to protect their Firefox brand because "Firefox" is actually a registered trademark. They should (and do) use the registered trademark symbol (R).
  • http://lockshot.wordpress.com/2008/09/15/firefox-eula-in-linux-distributions/ [wordpress.com]

    Weâ(TM)ve been working for a while to fix some objections to both the presentation of a EULA and the content of the EULA in certain Linux distributions. The issue came to light because of a change in settings in the 3.0 builds, that turned on the EULA display at installation, similar to the Windows environment. This caused two big problems. One, it put a EULA in front of a set of end-users who are not accustomed to seeing suc

  • > I'm not sure I would call it a EULA because that has a meaning to many people of adding
    > restrictions to software and we won't be doing that.

    Quit implying that users are entering into a contract with you. Call it a "NOTICE". Leave off the "Agree" (or whatever) clicky. If you think you have to have a clicky (you don't) label it "Acknowledge".

    The fact is, though, that you don't even need a notice.

  • After reading (several independent summaries of) the firefox EULA...

    I don't see why they couldn't just clean out the things that don't apply to the end-user (mostly their trademark on redistribution), replace "I agree" with "continue" and remove "I disagree". That way they can have informed the user of where to get the source code, that mozilla can't be held liable for anything firefox does (if they must - you can't sign away your rights to sue them anyway and this applies to everything in Ubuntu so that's

  • Help -> About?

  • I got it (Score:5, Funny)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @02:06PM (#25029073) Homepage Journal

    License Agreement for Mozilla End-users.

    What, no good?

  • The other flaw is that the license was giving Google rights to all your work.
  • Why why why?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anita Coney (648748) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @02:25PM (#25029365) Homepage

    Why does Red Hat, Mozilla, or any other company, need a license telling people not to use their trademarks?! Isn't that what fricken trademark law is all about?! Do they honestly believe I can use Coke's trademark anyway I want merely because Coke doesn't come with a EULA?!

    Having too many lawyers never solved any problem, but they've created more than a few. This is one of those instances.

  • Just call it a Notifications of Tradmarks and have it spell out what it is all about in plain English.

    "You cannot use our trademark on anything but this software with out our permission".

    (Continue)

  • by advocate_one (662832) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @02:55PM (#25029865)
    I'm sure we had the exact same discussion when they tried to get Debian to include a clickthrough licence for Firefox...
  • by chris_sawtell (10326) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @01:01AM (#25035299) Journal

    My suggestion is that the Mozilla Foundation offer a completely unbranded version of their browser software for public distribution, and name the binary 'wb' - for Web-Browser - or somesuch. The software licence could be the GPL and allow distributors who wish to brand both altered and unaltered versions of 'wb' with their own mark to do so. If end users wish to apply the FireFox brand to wb they could do so by downloading a EULA-protected set of branding files _only_ from Mozilla Corp. The installer of the branding files could very easily check that the particular instance of 'wb' was in fact the genuine unadulterated item before applying the patches to brand 'wb' as a genuine instance of 'firefox'.

    Mozilla Foundation: You listening? 'cos I'd be happy with that approach.

    Problem solved?

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