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.

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Comments on “Firefox Undermines UK Anti-Piracy Laws With All That Giving Stuff Away”

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mmrtnt (user link) says:

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


Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Michael says:


“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…

Simon (user link) says:

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. It?s 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 that?s free??

zcat (user link) says:

Re: Mozilla - Copyright - Open Source


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.”


Anonymous Coward says:

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.”)

Wanderer says:

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).

Memy Selfandi says:


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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