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Ubuntu Privacy

Canonical Targets Ubuntu Privacy Critic 259

Posted by Soulskill
from the probably-should-have-thought-that-through-a-bit-more dept.
New submitter bkerensa writes "A member of Canonical's Legal Team recently sent a email to a critic of Ubuntu's privacy settings to insist he stop using the Ubuntu name and logo, even though it falls under 'fair use.' Micah Lee is the CTO of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and maintainer of the HTTPS Everywhere project. When Ubuntu began adding commercial results in its Dash search software, Lee wrote about the privacy concerns and created a site called Fix Ubuntu to show people how to turn it off. Canonical's legal department has now sent him a letter asking him to 'remove [the] Ubuntu word from you[r] domain name and Ubuntu logo from your website.'"
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Canonical Targets Ubuntu Privacy Critic

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  • Dickish move... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jddeluxe (965655) on Friday November 08, 2013 @09:53AM (#45367297)
    ....but what would you expect???
    • OMG! Ubuntu Criticized?
      • No, OMG! Ubuntu! seems to not have been targeted. Then again, they don't use the Ubuntu logo for their site, only to illustrate specific stories. Wouldn't make a difference to me, but I can see how lawyers would make a distinction.

    • No, not really "dickish"?

      Aren't they obligated (by law) to protect their trademark, or risk loosing it?

      IANAL but as I recall it, you can only keep a trademark if you actively protect it. If you don't, you may loose your right to keep it.

      - Jesper

      • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday November 08, 2013 @10:30AM (#45367667)

        Aren't they obligated (by law) to protect their trademark, or risk loosing it?

        Of course. You're supposed to screw your trademark real tight. What if it falls off and bashes a customer entering or exiting your shop's premises on the head? You'd be liable for that.

      • by N0Man74 (1620447)

        No, not really "dickish"?

        Aren't they obligated (by law) to protect their trademark, or risk loosing it?

        IANAL but as I recall it, you can only keep a trademark if you actively protect it. If you don't, you may loose your right to keep it.

        - Jesper

        If that's true, then the Church of Scientology should sue Canonical for using their trademarked tactic of suing people for negatively or critically referring to their trademarked property.

        Ok, they Scientology didn't really "trademark" the tactic, but the have employed it a hell of a lot. We also see politicians invoke the DMCAA in order try to remove embarrassing information and media about them.

        We now have an unprecedented ability to disseminate information to the world, and so many people that try to mak

  • by bazmail (764941) on Friday November 08, 2013 @09:56AM (#45367313)
    ..then there is something more serious broken in your decision making that command can fix. There are far better distros out there, no matter what you're looking for.
    • by bazmail (764941)
      * that no command can fix. god dammit.
    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      I'm looking for a distro that I can install unattended by simply doing "apt-get install notubuntu".

      But as there is no easy fix and any change of distro will likely take up my weekend plus a week or two of sorting through bugs as my config files are unlikely to transfer well between distros, I'm still using ubuntu.

      • by Arker (91948)

        That's just a bad way to install period.

        Backup ~/, format the drive, do a clean install.

    • ..then there is something more serious broken in your decision making that command can fix.

      And what exactly is broken broken in Ubuntu people's decision making? Perhaps it's just that Ubuntu users have different opinions and priorities to you and that makes their choice of OS wrong? I really don't see the big deal here. Everything is open source, you know what Ubuntu is doing. Simply not using Unity will avoid the phoning home. Get over it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They've long since abandoned the values of the FOSS community... if they ever had them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08, 2013 @09:59AM (#45367353)

    https://micahflee.com/2013/11/canonical-shouldnt-abuse-trademark-law-to-silence-critics-of-its-privacy-decisions/

    Ubuntu just lost a lot of street cred. Not only is the response appropriate (remove the logo, nothing else), attacking a site dedicated to fixing your product via legal means is not the way to get the Open Source community on your side. When your main product is based on Open Source, that's kind of like shooting yourself in the leg and wondering why the gun is making you bleed out.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08, 2013 @10:22AM (#45367585)

      But they aren't silencing critics.

      I know that's going to be the popular meme in this discussion, but they aren't. They are asking that their trademarked name be removed from the url and that their trademarked logo be removed from the site. That's entirely reasonable defense of their trademark (*) and in no way prevents the author from still posting the _content_ of the site.

      * Trademark law, unlike copyright, must be defended or you weaken your trademark to the point of losing it. Look at Kleenex and Xerox for examples. If you become aware of infringement of your trademark and allow it to persist, you weaken your ability to defend it in the future. Thus, if they don't defend the trademark infringement that is happening, they risk losing it. Pure and simple.

      • by umafuckit (2980809) on Friday November 08, 2013 @10:35AM (#45367711)
        But this isn't a site promoting an alternative distro or selling a product. It's site about Ubuntu. So how does its presence weaken the Ubuntu trademark? It's like saying that this post weakens the trademark because it uses the term "Ubuntu". I bet Canonical won't bother going after http://ubuntu-artists.deviantart.com/ [deviantart.com] or http://podcast.ubuntu-uk.org/ [ubuntu-uk.org]
        • I think the presence of the logo is the problem, it makes it look official, like that's something that Ubuntu promotes.

      • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Friday November 08, 2013 @10:38AM (#45367745)

        But they aren't silencing critics.

        I know that's going to be the popular meme in this discussion, but they aren't. They are asking that their trademarked name be removed from the url and that their trademarked logo be removed from the site. That's entirely reasonable defense of their trademark (*) and in no way prevents the author from still posting the _content_ of the site.

        * Trademark law, unlike copyright, must be defended or you weaken your trademark to the point of losing it. Look at Kleenex and Xerox for examples. If you become aware of infringement of your trademark and allow it to persist, you weaken your ability to defend it in the future. Thus, if they don't defend the trademark infringement that is happening, they risk losing it. Pure and simple.

        I don't think they're taking this action because they're concerned that their brand is being diluted or co-opted or made generic. "FixUbuntu" is specifically about fixing problems Lee perceives Ubuntu to have. He's not using the name Ubuntu to mean Linux in general, or all open source operating systems, or operating systems in general. Canonical is acting like United Airlines in their battle vs. untied.com, that is to say, using trademark protection as an excuse to squelch criticism. And they're getting similar results.

      • by rmstar (114746) on Friday November 08, 2013 @11:01AM (#45367979)

        But they aren't silencing critics.

        Correct.

        Also, the letter they sent him is extremely nice, especially considering the usal tone of this type of document. It really is very different from the standard "nastygram".

        Please, people, keep it real. Also, don't be such fucking ingrates. Without ubuntu, linux would not be in such a good shape.

        Disclosure: I use xubuntu and don't plan to switch.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          really nice?

          what the hell does that matter? the 'request' is a request no matter what wording you use.

          the request, itself, is out of line. does not matter if sugar coated or not.

          why does 'niceness' matter when you are being told you have to comply??

          'the cop pistol-whipped me, but he sure had a nice smile while doing it, so I didn't mind'

          yeah, right.

        • This is the kind of comment that earns Ubuntu so much of its scorn.

          "Don't be such fucking ingrates," says a fan of the harmful ingrate upstart. As if Ubuntu would exist without the community it's constantly insulting, and now worse.

          Just because you needed a lollypop drenched in chocolate before you would check out Linux, doesn't mean Ubuntu did jack shit for the (doing perfectly well before and after Ubuntu arrived, thanks!) global FOSS community.

          Ubuntu polluted the user base with twits who think like Micro

          • by Patch86 (1465427)

            And I am certain that the increased desktop userbase had absolutely nothing to do with the improved support from graphics card and wifi card vendors, massive increase in Linux games (including Steam), increase in number of companies selling hardware with official (legally backed) Linux support...

            OK, so maybe you don't care about any of that stuff- you were happy debugging every new wifi adapter you bought for hours at a time, using graphics processors that ran at a fraction of the speed they did under Windo

      • They are asking that their trademarked name be removed from the url and that their trademarked logo be removed from the site. That's entirely reasonable defense of their trademark

        No. It is not. The logo, yes, the "trademarked name be removed from the url", no. A url is no different than any other mention of a name, and corporations don't get to use trademark law to stop people using their name to talk about them. If sites like http://www.verizonsucksass.com/ [verizonsucksass.com] and http://www.verizonfraud.com/ [verizonfraud.com] are ok -- Veri [2600.com]

  • by Maow (620678) on Friday November 08, 2013 @10:02AM (#45367381) Journal

    They can ask him to change the domain name and remove the logo, and it could be argued that they're just doing basic trademark defence, but they ought to know that he's under no obligation to make the changes. Of course, they ought to have known about and also considered the Streisand effect.

    At least they were polite and not bumptious, censorious douche nozzles about it.

    • Of course, they ought to have known about and also considered the Streisand effect.

      There are paid results in Dash now? I didn't know that, but now I have something else to talk about when people ask "why not Ubuntu?".

      (seriously, not just playing along)

      • by Vaphell (1489021)

        unity has these lenses, right? If you have them enabled they query the internet for answers. Some of these lenses like the Amazon one allow you to buy stuff and in case of these purchases done from the dash Canonical gets a cut as the partner or whatever. You don't like it, you disable it and the drama is over.

      • by fatphil (181876)
        # Just ask the computer:

        $ aptitude why linux
        Unable to find a reason to install linux.

        # fortunately, I already have it installed, and it also says:

        $ aptitude why-not linux
        Unable to find a reason to remove linux.
    • And yes, giving them an official authorization to use the trademarks (within the limited scope of discussing certain Ubuntu (mis)features and their workarounds) would also be a valid protection of their mark.

      Trademark law doesn't force the trademark holder to litigate any use by third parties. It only forces them to react to such use (rather than silently ignore it). But the nature of the reaction does not need to be forbidding, it may be authorization as well. So the excuse "the law forces us to be dicks,

  • please quit using Linux and GNU licensed software because you people are a pariah to the entire FOSS community, you are like a rotten apple in a barrel of good apples, you need to be removed from the barrel and develop your own software independent from GNU/Linux, nobody loves you anymore so please go away
  • by SplatMan_DK (1035528) on Friday November 08, 2013 @10:14AM (#45367491) Homepage Journal

    TFA does not mention threats being made ... so if all they're really doing is "asking", what is the problem?

    Let them ask, and just answer "no"?

    I see no story here until threats are made.

    - Jesper

    • by fatphil (181876)
      Just because they haven't said "or we will kneecap you and your children", doesn't mean that their request is a polite one. It is a demand. A legal demand from a legal entity. A legal entity who doesn't have a clue how the internet works: "we request you to remove Ubuntu word from you domain name"

      Is it time for a "ubuntu are cunts" googlebomb?
  • Now just another Lindows [wikipedia.org]

  • Are you ready for a riddle for the ages? If Linux is open source and Ubuntu is open source then why can't a volunteer coder just remove that stupid crapware feature? (scroll down for answer)







    Because it's not open source anymore. It's corporate garbage.
    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      Of course you can change it but then that will onlyt apply to your distribution of Ubuntu, not upstream Ubuntu.

    • by Kardos (1348077) on Friday November 08, 2013 @10:49AM (#45367853)

      It's still open source, you can remove whatever you want. That is the short-term immediate solution - and many have done so -- search how to remove the dash.

      That said, it's a clear sign that Canonical doesn't value the privacy of its users. Their default is moving to "privacy disrespecting" and that means users will need to actively keep up on the latest "how to fix the privacy flaws in Ubuntu", a.k.a, it's broken by default. If Canonical continues down this path, more "features" will be incrementally added, and the removal will get harder as they'll get integrated in ways that cause other things to break when removed, etc.

  • Large companies love to abuse their trademark and copyright protections to silence critics. It's unfortunate that there aren't SLAPP laws in every state. Angie's List was particularly scummy in that they threatened to come after me for reposting a review on a noncommercial blog so I could refute it outside of Angie's List. "Our reviews are copyrighted by us and we will sue the fuck out of you." That's how it works, and what's a small fry to do about it? In America, the person with the most money always wins

    • by Vaphell (1489021)

      how was he silenced? He was asked to remove branding not to shut the whole thing down.
      If you ran a company, would you like it if somebody had a www.fix<your_product/companyname>.com with your logo all over the place? Try that with Apple and you can watch your inbox fill with C&Ds in real time.
      It's entirely different from someone running the critical article with the url "ubuntucritic.blogspot.com/how_to_fix_privacy"

      You can criticize MS and Canonical for many things, but for this? Come the fuck on.

    • Did you copy / paste the whole review? How long was it? If it was more than a few sentences, you probably should have linked to the full review and copied only a few sentences, or better yet, a few key phrases, like this:

      I agree with Jody Bruchon, who says " It's unfortunate that there aren't SLAPP laws in every state". Write our own opinion, blah, blah, blah.
      Blah, blah, Bruchon is incorrect is the assertion that "the person with the most money always wins" be

  • Change distros. Vote with your feet.

    • I have never been able to stand running Ubuntu for more than a few minutes to begin with.

      Now it's gone from technically awful to actively evil, it would be nice to be able to switch away as a statement, but that would require actually using it to start with.

      • by SIGBUS (8236)

        My own opinion is that Ubuntu jumped the shark when they flipped the window buttons over to the left side and started in with the Apple-esque "we know what's good for you" attitude. The window buttons were fixable, but they should have never needed fixing in the first place. Now they're on pace to jump every shark in the ocean multiple times.

        I ended up holding on on 10.04LTS until desktop support went away, and then jumped ship to Debian for my Linux desktop (I also have a CentOS box running Asterisk, and a

  • So Canonical's reputation is going down the tubes, and their distro is showing some privacy invading warts. What they don't seem to realise is that they have no lock-in that prevents people from dropping them like a bad habit as their versions go out of support. There is ample room for a second contender to pull out in front with the next "easy to use" distro - who's it going to be?

    • by FudRucker (866063)
      thats already happened, look at http://distrowatch.com/ [distrowatch.com] (right hand column) and ubuntu has not been in the #1 spot for a long time, Mint is #1 and Debian is #2, i guess Mint is okay or they would be falling out of the #1 spot too, i prefer old school distros so i stick with Debian or Slackware (depending on my mood and which one of the two likes the hardware i install it on better)
      • by Kardos (1348077)

        Hmmmm. I'd agree except that Mint seems to be based on Ubuntu. But they also have a Debian based version. So it's not immediately clear that they are on top. Either way it's a good sign. Goodbye Canonical!

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      There are always the old standbys, RedHat/CentOS/Fedora/Oracle Linux, Slackware, and Gentoo. I don't know how they fare in the "easy to use" department (mainly because I tend to do custom installs, so what I consider "easy to use" is not what a newcomer to the Linux world would consider "easy to use".)

      I mainly use the RedHat variants because they are the staple in the enterprise (I can prove to the auditors that a few of the commercial distros like RedHat, SuSE, and Oracle Linux are FIPS/Common Criteria ce

      • I was using ubuntu at work for a while, doing some C coding work. builds were going thru without errors and things seemed to run ok.

        ported my apps to centos and found their compiler was showing some bugs in my code that ubuntu's gcc didn't find. interesting! they were bugs and I was glad to know about them.

        given a choice, I'll take the more strict compiler. after fixing the bugs, the code built ok (again) on unbuntu but I felt more confident about it.

        selinux sucks. I have to disable that shit or it gets

      • Just how old of standby do you mean? I think you forgot bsd and debian

  • by Minter92 (148860) on Friday November 08, 2013 @11:02AM (#45367989)

    So now Ubuntu's lawyers don't read their own legal policy http://www.canonical.com/intellectual-property-policy [canonical.com] . I looked into it when I wrote a blog post about Canonical going bankrupt eventually.
    Note:
    "You can use the Trademarks in discussion, commentary, criticism or parody, provided that you do not imply endorsement by Canonical."

    So not only is it fair use it also is ok under their own intellectual trademark policy.. Talk about one hand not knowing what the other is doing.

  • Aaaand that's it; I'm moving to Mint.

  • Huh? But why, I'm just expressing that I'm supporting human kindness and using the term that way [wikipedia.org]. It has nothing to do with any operating system. I do not think it's my fault that you called your OS thusly. Despite having really nothing to do with the original meaning of the word, I'd say...

    Else I'd consider asking the Roman Catholic Church on what they think about you using the term "canonical".

    • Else I'd consider asking the Roman Catholic Church on what they think about you using the term "canonical".

      canonical adj. - Use of canon subject matter in a farcical or satirical manner as to be comical.
      "GNU/Linux operating systems respect your freedom; Ubuntu is the Canonical example."

  • Of all the things that is Ubuntu, Multi USB to VGA Monitors would be nice. Legal public identification trade marks being displayed an issue? Really? I think someone at Ubuntu has to much free time on their hands.
  • by Rambo Tribble (1273454) on Friday November 08, 2013 @11:49AM (#45368505)

    From Shuttleworth on down the line, Canonical is suffering a meltdown from the frustration of failure and loss.

    Once the golden boy of the Linux revolution, Shuttleworth himself has devolved in the public eye to a petulant bully. Of course, he has only himself to thank for that, but such is frequently the trajectory of a highly driven personality, when denied the victories, fanfare and spoils they see themselves as deserving.

    The Ubuntu project was founded on a "build it and they will come" approach to business. While that may work in the movies, it is a poor business model. In reality, "build it, package it, promote it and support it" are the pillars of success in the commercial world. Having failed to recognize the enormity of that task, Shuttleworth and company led themselves down a garden path, in regard to desktop Linux.

    More recently, Canonical has sought to establish a vein of exclusivity in its offerings, at the expense of true Open Source principles. In so doing they have tried to make an end run approach to what Red Hat has done more openly, though recent times have seen suggestions that RH is, now, also taking more liberties with the spirit of "free and open".

    Of course, Red Hat took its fair share of abuse when first it abandoned the desktop. Canonical seems headed down the same path, but in a slow, drawn out fashion, guaranteed to prolong the ordeal.

"Look! There! Evil!.. pure and simple, total evil from the Eighth Dimension!" -- Buckaroo Banzai

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