libre distros and non-free assets
3 votes c/freepost Posted by zPlus — 3 votes, 5 commentsSource

Thinking about distributions that strive/claim to be 100% free, for example Debian, Parabola, gNewSense, Dragora, Trisquel, Guix, …

How do they deal with non-free, non-code assets? For example logos, documentation, game assets. I know for example that Debian has an exception for including the license files, but I don’t know about other assets. For instance, the Gnome logo is trademarked so I guess, in theory, a 100%-free distro should not be using it.

I’m not 100% sure, but I would assume they steer clear of anything copyrighted, but I think there are different types or levels of trademarks and in the case of the Gnome logo I’d wager they are okay with distributing that - assuming it is only trademarked and not copyrighted.

See also:

Although third parties can still use a trademarked image, the way they can use the image is restricted by trademark law.

But all of their forums and IRC channels are open so maybe worth asking them there? I couldn’t find anything with an initial search, but the final answer should really become a parabola wiki entry imho.

Regarding copyright vs trademark, IANAL but what I understand is that copyright protects originality, artistic expression, whereas trademark is meant to protects a brand reputation, truth in labeling or endorsement. In the case of the Gnome logo for example, my understanding is that it’s covered from both copyright (the foot logo is a work of art) and trademark (you cannot use it to misrepresent Gnome, for instance placing it in a way that suggests endorsement). Trademarks can still be copied, shared, modified, as long as the artwork has a permissive license. I’ve found a nice example here.

To some extents it looks to me like a way to protect “attribution”. Like CC-BY, you can modify/redistribute the work but you are not allowed to misattiribute it.

A bit off topic but trademarked logo reminded me about Rust’s logo with trademark and two versions of debian logo one is open and under free license and another is restricted