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      There was a lot of discussion/drama on reddit & twitter about this - mainly focusing on new restrictions that community members feel blindsided by.

      Meeting Notes from Feb 14th say the board reviewed the policy:

      The board reviewed the current final draft of the trademark policy and considered it broadly acceptable, with a query on the wording “We will likely consider using the Marks […] for a software program written in the Rust language to be an infringement of our Marks”, which seemed unintentionally strict and on which Ms. Rumbul would seek clarification from counsel.

      So there seems to be a disconnect between the Rust community & foundation (which is not too surprising). Notably this document was released with a Google Form for comments, and the foundation will be responding next Monday, hopefully saying they hear the community and will be updating the policy accordingly.

      Some of the outrage on Twitter is, imo, too much, though there are some fresh memes. In the future, I think the Rust community needs to have a better reaction to decisions the foundation is attempting to make, and obviously the foundation needs to be ultra-responsive to the community too.

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        I think the Rust community needs to have a better reaction to decisions the foundation is attempting to make, and obviously the foundation needs to be ultra-responsive to the community too.

        To be honest, I am disappointed with the reaction. Not the reaction to the proposal itself (a lot of good points have been made there) but to the anger and conspiracy theories directed at real people. Like can we not strongly object to something without ascribing the worst possible motives?

        I think having these kinds of discussions publicly is really great for an open source project. But I really wish it didn’t come with this cost. The Foundation too has lots of room to improve its communication here. Just dumping the proposal on people’s laps and saying “comment on this” maybe isn’t the best RFC process.

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          Maybe I just haven’t dug deep enough, but… I can’t say that I’ve seen people attack individuals? There’s a ton of deserved anger directed at the Foundation and the Project, because the Foundation and the Project are clearly hostile towards the community if this is the direction they want to move in (even if the policy they end up with will be a watered down version with less insane restrictions), but that’s it.

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            the Foundation and the Project are clearly hostile towards the community


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              Yeah? If there was no desire to disallow the community from using the words “rust” and “cargo” and the logo, this draft would never have been written and published in its current state. It’s either extreme incompetence and unbelievable stupidity, or an expression of hostile intent. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume the latter.

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                Erm, can you really not imagine any other options?

                If it helps, this proposal comes following a survey asking the community what they want from the trademark policy. The results of which were given to legal counsel to prepare a policy, which in turn was sent back to the community for comment (where we’re at now). This continued community involvement is not hostility.

                And the proposal was designed to allow fighting off things like embrace, extend, extinguish threats or hate groups using the logo. It was not intended to be strictly enforced against the community. The Foundation has no desire to be litigious.

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                  You’re right. I can not imagine other options. The proposed policy is extremely damaging to the community, which is either a sign of hostility or incompetence.

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                    Another option from https://blog.rust-lang.org/inside-rust/2023/04/12/trademark-policy-draft-feedback.html:

                    Fundamentally however, the question at hand is whether we want Rust to be a trademark or not. If we want to be able to defend Rust as the brand it is today, trademark law fundamentally constrains how permissible we can be, especially in public guidelines.

                    Our answer to the question of whether Rust should be a trademark has been “yes”, just as it has been since before Rust 1.0. Furthermore, our goal is to make a policy that is as permissive as it can be without substantially giving up our right to define what Rust is and is not in the future. Not all open source projects have retained that right.

                    They way I understand it:

                    If you want trademark policy to prevent someone from releasing an incompatible dialect of Rust and calling that Rust, the policy should also prevent (or require approval for) many benign usages, otherwise the law does not compile. That is, given the current laws, there’s a binary choice between “allowing anything” and “forbidding anything”.

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                      And Rust is the only language in the history of programming languages which encounters this issue… how? Even Oracle is less restrictive with Java, are they not?

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                        I can see two explanations for this:

                        • either this is actually incorrect from the legal perspective
                        • or Rust is indeed the first language which wants to prevent “hostile forks”

                        Can’t comment on the first one, but the second one seems plausible:

                        Python, Java, C do not try to prevent dialects. Android using a language called Java does seem like an evidence that Java’s trademark does not prevent forks.

                        It also is true that a sizable portion of Rust community wants to actively prevent incompatible dialects of Rust.

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        I was honestly very shocked at people’s nasty reactions. Like just purely forgetting there are people on the other side (that, in theory, you would like to convince not to do a thing!)

        An insane amount of snark that’s… honestly, kinda unprofessional? The material criticisms themselves are very valid IMO (did the Rust Foundation talk to any outside party in a more private matter for an outside review before this? It doesn’t feel like it) but Twitter has broken people’s brains on this stuff.

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        What’s wrong with not donating to a foundation which is clearly actively hostile against a community you care about? The Rust Foundation has made its wishes clear, and it’s obvious that it’s run by people I wouldn’t want to support either.

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      I learned a cool governance thing from Ashley Williams’ tweets about this: the Rust Foundation has board seats for

      • corporate directors (elected and/or appointed by corporate members)
      • 5 project directors (elected by those with individual membership of the foundation)

      and any act of the board must have a majority within each group, as well as overall. (Section 4.10 Quorum, Action at Meeting, Adjournments). A pretty neat way to ensure that corporate representatives can’t outvote the communal representatives.

      For the trademark proposal, this means the final policy will require approval from both the corporation-elected corporate directors, and the human-elected project directors.

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      The section 7 of the policy document contains a helpful explanation of exceptions and uses which the trademark owner can’t prohibit. There are lots of benign common-sense uses which are allowed by the trademark law regardless of what the policy is saying. It’s nice that it’s there, but IMHO they should lead with this information and be clear about the exceptions throughout the document. To a lawyer it may be obvious that when a policy says “we forbid everything” it actually means “we forbid everything except the things the law does not let us forbid”, but unfortunately to a non-lawyer average Rust user this will still read “we forbid everything” and cause a deserved backlash. A policy written for non-lawyers needs to have this redundancy about the allowed exceptions.

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      I think the fansite for Ferris the Crab would break with the new Trademark policy.


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        The domain name might be an issue, but Ferris is not part of the trademark for Rust or Cargo. Thankfully, Ferris is in the public domain.

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        Aside: I wouldn’t call it a fansite exactly — that site was (and AFAIK still is) run by the creator of Ferris, originally to showcase their proposal of a mascot for Rust. Evidently it succeeded. :)

        Edit: Oh, I guess you might have meant that it’s a fansite with respect to Rust, rather than to Ferris.

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      Is it possible for a FOSS project to get big without acting like some sort of ultra-corporate institution? That’s not entirely a rhetorical question: I find this almost as disappointing as it is laughable (what is the point in a policy that allows less than what is legally fair use?) but maybe I just need to adjust my expectations. I know trying to run an internet thing without incorporating has gotten me into trouble before.

      On another note, this policy contains almost word for word the same bit about modified versions that started all that fuss a while ago. There was a survey for community feedback then, too. Did an overwhelming majority of people respond to that saying this is great, don’t change anything?

      This was talked about a lot last time and I’m sorry for bringing it up again, but the trademark policy seems to prohibit things which are allowed by the software licenses. I wonder whether licenses that don’t include a trademark/patent grant can still be considered non-free.

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        Do you have a link to some of the discussion from last time?

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          Most of the discussions I’m aware of spun around the fact that Alpine ships a modified Rust compiler and there’s always been a question whether that violates the old trademark or not. The most levelheaded discussion of that I can find here:


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        Is it possible for a FOSS project to get big without […]

        Define “big”. Do you consider, say, GNU, or Debian, to be bigger or smaller than Rust?

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        I wonder whether licenses that don’t include a trademark/patent grant can still be considered non-free.

        Maybe it would be interesting to email FSF (as the definers of ‘free software’) and ask their opinion.

        I’m reminded of the LaTeX Project Public License. It’s not exactly the same issue but also involved restricting the use of a work’s name(s) in a derived work:

        This license contains […] one requirement that falls just barely on the good side of the line of what is acceptable: that any modified file must have a new name.

        The reason this requirement is acceptable for LaTeX is that TeX has a facility to allow you to map file names, to specify “use file bar when file foo is requested”. With this facility, the requirement is merely annoying; without the facility, the same requirement would be a serious obstacle, and we would have to conclude it makes the program nonfree.


        The most unusual part of the LPPL – and equally the most controversial – used to be the ‘filename clause’: You must not distribute the modified file with the filename of the original file. This feature made some people deny that the LPPL is a free software license. In particular the Debian community considered in 2003 excluding LaTeX from its core distribution because of this.

        However, version 1.3 of the LPPL has weakened this restriction. Now it is only necessary that modified components identify themselves “clearly and unambiguously” as modified versions, both in the source and also when called in some sort of interactive mode. A name change of the work is still recommended, however.


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      Discussions on Zulip:

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      There is probably a harmless intent behind it, but playing devil’s advocate, if there isn’t, this would not be the first time we see corporate bean-counters taking over a legitimate project.

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      Our word trademarks and service marks (the “Word Marks”): […] Clippy™

      If only we could FOIA Microsoft to see how long they spent deciding whether to approve that…. :-)