[darcs-users] how should we relicense the Darcs logo? (if at all)

Eric Kow kowey at darcs.net
Wed Jul 15 17:43:32 UTC 2009

Hi everybody,

After conferring with the original designer of the Darcs logo, Mark
Stosberg has granted the Darcs Project (i.e. the Oversight Committee, or
David should the former cease to exist) permission to relicense the logo
as we see fit.  Thanks, Mark!

But what a mixed blessing :-)
We now have a bit of homework on our hands.

As Max and Stephen have both observed, it would be a good idea to
associate our logo with some sort of public license that more
effectively answers the kinds of questions like the one Ashley brought
brought up in [1].  But if we were to do this, we should probably watch
out for uses which may be detrimental to the project in the long term.

To start things off, here's the policy that Mozilla use:
and here is the policy that Wikimedia are gearing up to use:

Maybe I'm overreacting and we don't *really* need to go the
do-our-homework route.  Unless I'm mistaken, if we take no
action, we should be left with a GPL licensed logo, much
like the Mercurial folks:
And that might be OK too as a fall-back most-conservative license that
we could relax on a case-by-case basis...

Anyway, I've also asked Stephen if he could prepare an opinion on this,
but while he is not in a position to put a lot of thought into this
right now, he was able to offer these initial suggestions which I
comment on at the end of this message.  Thanks, Stephen!


[1] http://lists.osuosl.org/pipermail/darcs-users/2009-July/020402.html 

On Thu, Jul 16, 2009 at 01:34:06 +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> (1) Talk to the lawyers.  You may want to formally register it as a
>     trademark.  (But in the following "trademark" means informally
>     "public symbol of Darcs", NOT "registered with the Copyright
>     Office".)

Perhaps we could request that the SFLC write up a general analysis
this sort of thing, something along the lines of their

While we don't have an attorney-client relationship with the SFLC,
they seem willing to offer legal advice to FLOSS projects that
contact them: http://www.softwarefreedom.org/about/contact/

> (2) This logo is not software, and it's not art.  It's a trademark.
>     That doesn't mean that you can't use GPL or something like that
>     as the license, but it *does* mean that even RMS thinks that it
>     should be treated differently from software.  Cf. the "cover
>     texts" and "invariant sections" in the GNU FDL for a similar
>     concept of something associated with free software, yet heavily
>     restricted.
> (3) This means the notion of "damage" is different from that of
>     software.  Unlike software, where the GPL has its famous "NO
>     WARRANTEE" clause, you can't disclaim the logo, it is *the* Darcs
>     logo.  Any bad vibes that go with the logo will stick to the Darcs
>     project for a long time, whether it's an accidental breakage in a
>     downstream version or a deliberate commercial fraud.
> (4) IMO commercial use would be bad.  Maybe a Creative Commons / No
>     Commercial Use license would be good.
> (5) OTOH, commercial use could be good. :-) Note that the TeX and Perl
>     licenses do not allow the use of the name if certain conditions
>     aren't satisfied (TeX implementations must pass the TRIP test,
>     Perl must be as-is or something like that).  So maybe distribution
>     of the logo with a commercial product is OK if the associated
>     version of Darcs is built from unadulterated darcs.net sources.
>     This really depends on how the community feels about it all.  (4)
>     and (5) should be taken as *examples*; there are of course an
>     infinite variety of possibilities, and I just picked two that seem
>     somewhat plausible to me.
> (6) Whether commercial use is OK or not, it's probably a very bad idea
>     to think about giving exceptions to the public license, whether
>     for love (eg, if David starts a company to distribute Darcs) or
>     for money.
> (7) Maybe asking Richard Stallman would be a good idea.  If you do,
>     make it plain that this is *not* a question about free software,
>     but rather his advice about licensing a logo for a particular free
>     software program.  You don't have to take his advice for gospel,
>     but I'm sure it will be thought-provoking, especially any
>     rationale he's willing to give.
> (8) Maybe the Mozilla people would give advice (they have their
>     "branding" restrictions on using Mozilla logos).  Also Debian,
>     Gentoo, and *BSD probably have things to say about their logos.
>     Dunno where to look or ask, sorry.  The GNU Project itself has
>     some logos, too.

Here's what I could dig up:

* http://www.debian.org/logos/
* http://www.gentoo.org/main/en/name-logo.xml 
* http://www.mozilla.org/foundation/trademarks/policy.html  

Eric Kow <http://www.nltg.brighton.ac.uk/home/Eric.Kow>
PGP Key ID: 08AC04F9
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