Firefox, Ubuntu and a EULA

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When I first saw the headlines about the Firefox - Ubuntu EULA flap, I thought it was some kind of prank. Why in the world would an open source browser require users to agree to an end-user license agreement before they could proceed? After all, software released under many open source licenses can be used without restriction, and typically it can even be changed or distributed with only a few restrictions. What's more, I have downloaded several versions of Firefox myself here at work, and I can't remember ever seeing one.


So I did a more research -- on Mozilla.org (which led me to chairperson Mitchell Baker's blog) and on additional tech news sites -- and found it wasn't a joke after all. Ubuntu distributor Canonical is pre-loading Firefox with the latest version of Ubuntu, and Mozilla wanted to ensure that its Mozilla and Firefox trademarks were protected. The company asked that Ubuntu include a EULA as a popup to make sure customers could see it before they used Firefox.


The problem was, and Baker admits this in her blog, the language in the EULA was wrong. To Mozilla's credit, they have corrected that language and, it seems, will call the trademark notice what it is in the next version of Firefox: a notice.