As we all see, there is a topbar on this site that has Canonical links to various Ubuntu tools on it.

If I were to remove that on the clientside using userscripts that I publish as open-souce, would that be violating any terms of service?

What if I just keep it for myself and not publish these scripts as open source?

I admit that I have created, published, and used these. If this is against a ToS, I am very sorry. I was not aware.

I will remove them from the GitHub site they are on, as well as uninstall them from my own computer.

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    Say what? I do not think Stack Exchange or Canonical can force you to take them down. – muru Sep 22 '14 at 7:47
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    @muru ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​I still don't want to get banned from all of SE because of Section 943.14.97.1996.1894.581 of TOS Document #987591-ACA – Kaz Wolfe Sep 22 '14 at 7:49
  • What is that? O.o – muru Sep 22 '14 at 7:50
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    @muru I just made up random numbers :D – Kaz Wolfe Sep 22 '14 at 7:50

IMHO the only way you'll know for sure is if SE or Canonical lawyers come after you and the EFF decides to help you out (if not, it was nice knowing you :P). If you aren't willing to continue publishing, I won't mind forking the repository.

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    I'll continue publishing. I'll probably push the links in three days. – Kaz Wolfe Sep 22 '14 at 20:04
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    I'll take my chances. The web is free, and nobody should be able to lock down a user interface. (Apple hasn't gotten that message yet.) – Kaz Wolfe Sep 22 '14 at 23:20

The Terms of Service is a contract between the web site and the user. So by publishing a tool for others to use, you are not violating the ToS, since you are not a party to that contract. But if you use the tool yourself, a lawyer could argue that you are violating the term "Subscriber may not.. modify,.. create derivative works based on.. any of the content" from http://stackexchange.com/legal:

The Network is protected by copyright as a collective work and/or compilation, pursuant to U.S. copyright laws, international conventions, and other copyright laws. Other than as expressly set forth in this Agreement, Subscriber may not copy, modify, publish, transmit, upload, participate in the transfer or sale of, reproduce (except as provided in this Section), create derivative works based on, distribute, perform, display, or in any way exploit, any of the Content, software, materials, or Services in whole or in part.

This is fundamentally the same argument over the "adblockers" - is it a ToS violation to alter copyrighted content (or alter the rendering of content, if you see the distinction) without an explicit authorisation? , Some people think it might be, some people not, there is a more detailed discussion on the Adblock forum: Violation of Google ToS?

You were not intending to strip any adverts, but the legal principle is the same, and in this case the Canonical header actually includes a registered trademark (Ubuntu). Deliberately stripping content that includes a trademark would be seen by a court as more serious than just stripping regular content.

In practice, there is no applicable case law on this. In reality, altering content on AskUbuntu is such a tiny issue that nobody is going to take you to court over it. At most, someone might ask you to stop distributing your script, but IMHO nobody would even care enough to do that, and it would be hard to justify under the ToS given that similar content modifying client-side scripts have previously been published and are still distributed by StackExchange (eg. the Greasemonkey Ignore Users script).


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