Fedora derivatives branding discussion -- the root problems ...

Bryan J. Smith b.j.smith at ieee.org
Thu Apr 20 23:03:14 UTC 2006

I've seen a lot of suggestions here.
But let's step back and look at the root problems.
They are ...

1.  The Fedora trademark, and the legal issues under what context
people use it, especially in the context of both ...

2.  The 100% Redistributable and "Free" guarantee that Red Hat(R),
now Fedora(TM), releases have always guaranteed to consumers

3.  The past success and infamy due to packaging non-redistributable
or non-legally free packages, with software that actually can legally
be packaged with non-redistribuable/non-free (not looking at the
branding/trademark aspects).

With that said, let me tell you my views ...

A.  Anaconda + Fedora Core/Extras

Fedora Core + Fedora Extras are still Fedora Project redistributions.
 Not only should stock logos be allowed, but we should encourage
neither changes or rebranding for these CDs -- except for maybe
"Unofficial."  That includes Live CDs, as long as 100% of the
software they contain are _unmodified_ from Core + Extras, and only
boot-time changes/scripts are made.

B.  Anaconda + Fedora Core/Extras + 100% Redistributable

Red Hat(R) Linux gained mass popularity as a base for other
distributions because of its 100% Redistributable focus.  We should
still acknowledge redistributions with 100% redistributable
components (and no legal binds), but just accomodate the legal
changes required.  An alternative logo and disclaimer accomplishes

C.  Anaconda + Fedora Core/Extras + Non-Redistributable

On the flip side, Red Hat(R) Linux gained great infamy (and lots of
corresponding rhetoric from the community, like from Cheapbytes)
because of many vendors *COUGH*Cobalt*COUGH*Sun*COUGH* who wrongly
took the goodwill of Red Hat(R) and made it a serious
trademark/public domain issue.  Let's make no mistake, these
distributions will still happen with Fedora -- especially if "B"
becomes popular (as it seems it is).  Omitting the trademark issues,
the software licenses on the packages do legally allow them to be
bundled with non-GPL/100% redistributable software.  So we _need_ to
_deal_ with the trademark issue once and for all.

With all that said, here's what I suggest ...

i)  The Anaconda tools should be modified to include 3 additional
logo sets as standard:  

  A.  Custom Fedora(TM)
  B.  Unofficial Fedora(TM) Third Party
  C.  No-name Redistribution

Let's face it, many people don't like to take the time to customize
Anaconda.  People are going to abuse the trademark.  We need to make
it as easy as a script to change the logos from "Fedora(TM)" to
something else.

If we do offer that, people _will_ do it.  If we don't, we'll run
into the same trademark hell Red Hat did, because 99% of repackagers
aren't going to take the time to rebrand the installer.  If you give
people the tools to "be legal," they will use them.

ii)  Standard legal disclaimers

Correspondingly to i), we need to come up with standard legal
disclaimers for A, B and C.  These are just templates that are the
defaults, just like the logos and branding.

Most importantly, if you _ignore_ "C," we'll just get more people
brand "C" in the same way as "A"/"B".  We _need_ to address _all_3_.

iii)  "Click-through" Anaconda tools

I think the way to solve this is in the Anaconda tools themselves. 
When you run any Anaconda tools, you have to create an _explicit_
configuration file that states whether it's A, B or C.  If it doesn't
exist, Anaconda spits out a complaint to create one, or run a script
that creates the settings file for them (prompts them for a few

IANAL, but from a legal perspective, if you give someone a tool that
notifies them with a click through or they have to run an explicit
command, and they _still_ use the trademark _incorrectly_ -- I'd say
you've got them by the balls.  They have no excuse or ignorance
argument.  But IANAL.

Bryan J. Smith   Professional, Technical Annoyance
b.j.smith at ieee.org    http://thebs413.blogspot.com
I'm a Democrat.  No wait, I'm a Republican.  Hmm,
it seems I'm just whatever someone disagrees with.

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