Firefox Undermines UK Anti-Piracy Laws With All That Giving Stuff Away

from the who's-the-expert dept

An employee from the Mozilla Foundation got a strange email (via Slashdot) from somebody in the UK government that enforces copyrights, saying she'd confiscated a bunch of CDs containing Firefox that companies were selling. The Mozilla employee responded, saying that was well within the software's license, and that the CDs should be returned. The woman responded in disbelief, adding "If Mozilla permit the sale of copied versions of its software, it makes it virtually impossible for us, from a practical point of view, to enforce UK anti-piracy legislation, as it is difficult for us to give general advice to businesses over what is/is not permitted." It's unclear exactly what role the Mozilla Foundation plays in enforcing the UK's anti-piracy laws, or exactly why they shouldn't be allowed to license their software however they want, just to make things easier for some civil servants. If nothing else, it merely indicates how deeply ingrained people's preconceived notions about software "piracy" are. And it's disappointing that a government officer whose job it is to enforce copyrights can't seem to get their head around the idea that there is another way to license software than how most entrenched developers and companies handle it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    mmrtnt, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 12:07pm

    Carlo, Carlo, Carlo


    "...somebody in the UK government that..."

    People who Things that

    You wouldn't say, "somebody in the UK government what

    What makes this so striking is that Mike does it correctly. I never check the contributor name when reading articles, but I always know it's a Carlo post when I read "someone that"

    MjM, which is a grammar junky

    :)

     

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      Andre, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 12:24pm

      Strange

      This law inforcer is obviously insane and has not been trained properly.

      How can people enforce copyright law when they don't even know a basix term such as Open Source. The nerve of some people. BTW, this is my first comment on this site, since I started reading it in 2005.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 12:29pm

        Re: Strange

        I think the problem is that since firefox is FREE, the company 'selling' the firefox cds was the issue.

         

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          identicon
          Xanthir, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 2:10pm

          Re: Strange

          >>I think the problem is that since firefox is FREE, the company 'selling' the firefox cds was the issue.


          Firefox's license allows people to sell it. Mozilla wants as complete penetration as possible - if people won't take it when it's free then they won't stop them from buying it.

           

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 12:21pm

    No Subject Given

    I suspect the problem here is that the people monitoring piracy want to be able to make the assumption that if the CD is a pressed CD with a nice-looking label on it, it's legitimate, but if it's a CDR with "OFFICE" written in permanent marker, they know it's pirated. Of course, that's a bad assumption to make.

     

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    Michael, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 12:48pm

    Correction

    "They had encountered businesses which were selling copies of Firefox, and wanted to confirm that this was in violation of our licence agreements before taking action against them."

    For the record, they did not confiscate anything. Just pre-empting any posts about the government abusing it's power and what not. It became an issue over on Slashdot...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 1:40pm

    No Subject Given

    omg i found some websites giving away operating systems for free!!
    www.debian.org
    www.gentoo.org
    www.ubuntulinux.org
    they must be pirated!!

     

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    Simon, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 2:19pm

    Mozilla - Copyright - Open Source

    I have had similar issue where I have legitimately (after confirming with the development org) included a piece of open source code in an enterprise wide application for a corporate client. They just don't know how to deal with Open Source. Itís strange but they prefer to pay someone, and that's their mindset.
    Seems like this is the same issue with Mozilla in the UK, they cannot understand a CD thatís freeÖÖ

     

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      zcat, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 3:12pm

      Re: Mozilla - Copyright - Open Source

      ARGH!

      I've run into similar problems. I maintain a collection of Free Software for windows (similar to TheOpenCD) and was selling it on a local auction site. The local auction site removed my auctions and threatened to ban me because, quote:

      "You are not allowed to list CDs containing
      programs that you do not hold the copyright for.
      These CDs contained a number of programs freely
      available on the internet. CDs of this nature
      are considered piracy and will be removed."

      Idiots.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 3:38pm

    No Subject Given

    Why must techdirt postings contain so many grammatical and spelling errors? Is it too much to ask for people to proofread?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2006 @ 2:14am

      Re: No Subject Given

      "Why must techdirt postings contain so many grammatical and spelling errors? Is it too much to ask for people to proofread?"

      Why must people like you come here and tell us to use 100% perfect grammatical replies with zero tolerance for spelling in our replies to the topic being discussed? Is it too much to ask that people like you just read our replies, understand them... or move on to the next comment if the one you're working on is too difficult to comprehend?

      BTW, pls stay on-topic. ("By the way, please stay on the current topic of this discussion.")

       

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      spoofread, Feb 24th, 2006 @ 10:33am

      Is it too much to ask?

      Yeth, is it.

       

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    nevin5, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 8:15pm

    wow, image that

    A government official that does not know which end it up? Wow, now that is something new.
    BTW, this is my first comment on this site, since I started reading it in 1492.

     

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    Wanderer, Feb 24th, 2006 @ 2:52am

    No Subject Given

    In the UK there is a sub-culture of "software sales" at local markets and car boot sales. The greatest, and most (in)famous of these markets being The Barrowlands Market (The Barras) in Glasgow. In recent years the authorities who police the sale of illegal (pirated) software have paid repeated visits to these areas and tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to stop the sale of the pirated software.

    One case that did make it to court, but was eventually dropped with no charges, was one market trader who had, allegedly, over £100,000 GBP (retail value) worth of software available for sale on the day that he was arrested. In court his solicitor asked for each and every CD/DVD to be catalogued and each and every piece of software to be verified as being "freeware" or copyright. As the Scottish legal system did not have the time, money or man power to carry out such a task, the case was dropped and no charges were brought against the trader.

    When they sell a CD/DVD, it doesn't contain just one program, it can contain many titles on the one disk. Many of the disks are compilations of commercial software and freeware. Therefore, in this instance, I would guess that the person in this instance is trying to track all copyright holders of software contained on such a disk.

    This may help a little in explaining why they are trying to trace the copyright holder.

    (Warning: The above post has not been spell checked although in the main it should be gramatically correct).

     

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    identicon
    Memy Selfandi, Sep 25th, 2006 @ 6:57am

    Nonsense

    When you incorrectly spell a word, or insert the wrong grammar into a sentence, it can change the meaning. The first time someone misinterpreted what you said because you aren't of a mind to correct your grammatical or spelling shortcomings, you would have a "hissy" fit. Let's use spell check, and try to understand the relationship between words so that our point may be made without confusion.
    By the way, I don't consider the sale of those disks to be piracy. I do question the seller's reasons for making a profit off of someone else's "free" software.

     

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