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[ #298383] icons in proprietary software that resemble free icons

From: Ben Pfaff
Subject: [ #298383] icons in proprietary software that resemble free icons?
Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2007 15:59:26 -0800
User-agent: Gnus/5.110006 (No Gnus v0.6) Emacs/21.4 (gnu/linux)

Here's an opinion on the use of icons similar to SPSS in PSPP.
It sounds like it's probably fine.

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Delivery-date: Tue, 02 Jan 2007 15:57:07 -0800
Delivered-To: address@hidden
Subject: [ #298383] icons in proprietary software that resemble free 
From: "John Steele Scott via RT" <address@hidden>
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RT-Ticket: #298383
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Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2007 18:56:25 -0500

> address@hidden - Wed Jul 26 16:57:51 2006]:
> GNU PSPP has a "toolbar" with a row of icons that invoke various
> functions.  PSPP is a clone of the functionality of the
> proprietary software program SPSS, which also has a toolbar.
> Some of the toolbar icons in PSPP resemble those in SPSS that
> perform similar functions.  The PSPP icons are not
> pixel-for-pixel copies; rather, they were drawn independently but
> depict similar objects, actions, etc.
> Screenshots of SPSS showing the icons in question are easy to
> find on the web; e.g.:
> The corresponding PSPP icons are available via Savannah.  You can
> click on any of the .png files at the URL below, then click on
> "View" or "Download" to see the icon:
> Is this acceptable from a copyright point of view, or should we
> design new icons for PSPP that do not resemble those used in
> Thanks!
> Ben

Dear Ben,

First, allow me to apologise for the delay in replying to your message.

The screenshot link of SPSS you sent seems to have died since you wrote
this email, but I found some more shots at
and I had a look at some of the icons in the PSPP CVS.

As you may know, copyright covers expression rather than ideas. Many
free software applications have similar icons to proprietary
applications, and I'm not aware of this causing any problems in the
past. If it ever came down to it, a court would consider the history and
development of an icon in judging whether one icon was derived from another.

Sorry once again for the late reply. Please note that this is not legal



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