Mozilla revises Linux Firefox agreement

"OK, OK, We get it." No EULA (End User License Agreement) for Firefox on Linux," isn't what Mozilla Foundation President Mitchell Baker said in her recent blog posting, but she might as well have.

Ubuntu Linux users made it really, really clear that they didn't want to see anything that even looked like a Firefox EULA in their favorite desktop Linux. While some Ubuntu users screamed for Firefox to be kicked out of the distribution, cooler heads, like Ubuntu's founder Mark Shuttleworth urged calm and started working with Mozilla to find a solution that would work for everyone. Baker, in turn, rapidly backed off the idea calling the original EULA a 'giant error.'

Now, Harvey Anderson, VP and General Counsel of Mozilla Corp. has released a new Firefox licensing proposal for community comment. Anderson wrote, "The commentary overwhelmingly indicated the proposed approach wasn't good enough (that would be an understatement). We looked at it again, incorporated suggestions from the community at large and from some of the Linux distributors." Besides Ubuntu, and its parent company Canonical, Red Hat, and its community branch, Fedora, also contributed to this draft.

Anderson and company are still tinkering with the presentation. "There's no click-through, or license splashed in the users face on start-up (or at any point thereafter)," wrote Anderson. "We'll either include some text on the first-run page or in an info box that links to a static page in the browser that contains a notice about your rights. We're still working through which implementation works best - so this isn't final." Anderson then included screenshots of several proposed pages.

He then continued, "There is no EULA. There are no caps except where grammatically required. There is a notice page that points to the MPL (Mozilla Public License), provides summary information on the rights that come with it, includes a statement about trademarks, and a statement about optional web services (like safe-browsing) that are not covered under the MPL. The notice includes a link to the terms related to the services."

The draft of the final language, on screenshots, is also now available on Anderson's blog. Some comments have already been made on the drafts. While generally approving, several tweaks have already been proposed to the language and its presentation. I would expect to see another draft addressing these points in the next day or two as Mozilla continues to work quickly to address the Linux community's licensing concerns.

Personally, I'm surprised to see just how fast and co-operative Mozilla is being about this issue. Personally, I saw it as being more of a tempest in a tea cup than a real issue, but I'll take my hat off to Mozilla for addressing users' concerns so promptly. Now, if only other organizations and companies were half-so-responsive to their users, we'd all be much happier.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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