Bonum Certa Men Certa

Debian trademark: where does the value come from?

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Apr 24, 2024

Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock

When investors combine their resources to form a joint stock company, each investor is allocated a share of the company in proportion to the value of the resources they put in.

Recent discussions have examined the status of Debian GNU/Linux as a work of joint authorship. The joint authors did not contribute capital. We contributed intellectual property and we collaborated with our peers to improve the collective work that results from our contributions.

All our contributions, together, have given the trademark value that is respected in the market.

In recent years, when people in leadership positions have used the Debian name to denounce people, they are borrowing respect that was cultivated by the very people being denounced.

One example of this phenomena was the push to make a public statement using the Debian trademark to denounce Richard Stallman. Here are the results of the vote.

The community rejected that vote in April 2021. Six months later, in November 2021, the Debian Press Team unilaterally made a statement denouncing another developer anyway.

Going back to the world of joint stock companies, a shareholder can not lose more capital than the equity they put in to a firm. What we see in Debian today is that people are failing to receive the recognition for their work and moreover, it looks like these negative statements about a series of developers are intended to undermine our reputations, our incomes, our businesses, our families and the lives of those who depend on us.

In a joint stock company, the developers are typically paid a salary. They assign their copyright to the benefit of the company and the investors behind it. In return for that assignment, they receive a salary. Debian Developers have never assigned our copyright and we have never received a salary. The only thing we expect is our recognition. Debian.Plus has been established to advance the cause of recognizing developers.

Stockholders can sell their share in a company and leave at any time. Debian Developers, being joint authors of a free software project, can't easily sell our copyright interest because there is no revenue stream from a free license.

We have none of the positive benefits of a shareholding. Yet we have all these potential negative consequences where people want to strip away from us more than we ever agreed to put in.

Bad faith: Debian.Community seized for purpose of retaliation

After seizing the Debian.Community domain, Software in the Public Interest, Inc has only used the domain name for the purpose of attacking one of the volunteers.

The legal panel had not chosen to write the name of any private individuals in their verdict yet the Debianists decided to use the verdict and the domain to attack a person.

In retrospect, we can see that their intention has always been to harass this one volunteer.

In 2017, the community elected this volunteer as the FSFE Fellowship representative, another unpaid position. Losers had been out to get him ever since then.

In September 2018, Debian Project Leader Chris Lamb used an Albanian to distribute messages denouncing the volunteer.

The Debian.Community domain was only registered much later in October 2019.

These problems of denouncing people revolve around leadership figures like Chris Lamb.

When the domain was seized, it was used to continue the practice of denouncing somebody, as started by Lamb in September 2018.

The Debian.Community domain hasn't been used for any other purpose.

The use of a domain to harass a private individual appears to violate privacy regulations in numerous jurisdictions and it also proves that the UDRP case was pursued with the intention of harassment. These people have retrospectively proved themselves to be in violation of UDRP Rule 15(e) through the way they used the domain to attack a private individual.

Therefore, we can only be suspicious about their intentions with any other domains they try to seize.

DNSlytics tells us that over 2,500 domain names contain the Debian trademark.

The WIPO UDRP case search tells us that these people are only attacking the 14 domains owned by the same person who has been attacked since 2017.

The only evidence they have submitted in the latest case D2024-0770 is thick with defamation. It is clear they are hoping the WIPO legal panel will cut and paste accusations that are offensive to the private individual concerned.

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