Ubuntu's Owner is Critical of Site Critical of Ubuntu - The UpStream

Ubuntu's Owner is Critical of Site Critical of Ubuntu

posted Sunday Nov 10, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Ubuntu's Owner is Critical of Site Critical of Ubuntu

The Linux community has been very critical of many of the new features of Windows 8.1, including the new Search Everywhere. The feature allows you to search both the local computer, for files and programs, and the Internet. Unfortunately, this feature already exists in Ubuntu, which makes it difficult to complain about.

That hasn't prevented Micah Lee from the Electronic Frontier Foundation from setting up the website Fix Ubuntu, in which he gives instruction on how to turn off this feature within Ubuntu. According to the site,

If you're an Ubuntu user and you're using the default settings, each time you start typing in Dash (to open an application or search for a file on your computer), your search terms get sent to a variety of third parties, some of which advertise to you.

This has not sat well with Canonical, the maker of Ubuntu. They recently sent him a cease and desist letter, asking him to remove the Ubuntu logo from his website and the name from his domain. In the email, they included a screenshot of Lee's website using the logo in its header. Lee has said that, despite his legal right to continue using the logo and name, he has removed the logo and added this disclaimer:

Disclaimer: In case you are either 1) a complete idiot; or 2) a lawyer; or 3) both, please be aware that this site is not affiliated with or approved by Canonical Limited. This site criticizes Canonical for certain privacy-invading features of Ubuntu and teaches users how to fix them. So, obviously, the site is not approved by Canonical. And our use of the trademarked term Ubuntu is plainly descriptive-it helps the public find this site and understand its message.

The EFF has responded to Canonical on behalf of Lee,

While we appreciate the polite tone of your letter, we must inform you that your request is not supported by trademark law and interferes with protected speech," the letter says. "The website criticizes Canonical Limited for certain features of Ubuntu that Mr. Lee believes undermine user privacy and teaches users how to fix these problems. It is well-settled that the First Amendment fully protects the use of trademarked terms and logos in non-commercial websites that criticize and comment upon corporations and products. Mr. Lee's site is a clear example of such protected speech. Neither Mr. Lee, nor any other member of the public, must seek your permission before engaging in such constitutionally protected expression.

This is all a very interesting stance to take by a company that makes a product within a community that is, by its own admission, hypercritical. For Canonical to go after a website that is critical of its product, or more importantly its policies seems counter-productive.


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