Subject: Re: Open Content woes
From: Mark Stone <>
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 13:12:04 -0700 (PDT)

On Thu, 23 Sep 1999, L. Peter Deutsch wrote:

> > Like many other technical books, "Learning Debian" contains a fair number
> > of screenshots. Some of these screenshots demonstrate applications running
> > under Linux (Corel WordPerfect, Netscape Communicator, etc.). It is
> > standard practice in publishing that these images are the property of the
> > company that makes the product, and can be used in books only with the
> > permission of the company.
> This is the part I don't understand.  If the images were provided by the
> company, this practice makes sense to me.  But if anyone else (e.g., you)
> having a properly licensed copy of the product produced the image, it seems
> to me that they, not the company, would own the image.  I don't see why the
> company has any more rights to a screen shot of an arbitrary document than
> it does to any output created using the company's product.  Corel doesn't
> assert rights over every book created with WordPerfect; Netscape doesn't
> assert rights over every Web page printed out using Communicator; FSF
> doesn't assert rights over every program compiled with gcc.
Think, by comparison, of the way Red Hat uses its logo. Linuxcare got in
big trouble (not that they were surprised) by putting together an ad in
which a model was holding a shrink-wrapped Red Hat box, with -- and this
is the key point -- the Red Hat logo visible. The photo, even though not
created by Red Hat, still constitutes a "use" of trademarked material, and
hence requires Red Hat's explicit permission (which in this case, they
would never give).

So the situation is similar with Corel. The "look and feel" of WordPerfect
is trademarked by Corel, and hence any image depicting that "look and
feel" is subject to copyright restrictions. This would include
screenshots. Hence the problem.

Screenshot permissions are old news in the publishing world. There's a web
site that details all of the legalities surrounding this. I'll see if I
can dig it up.


|   Mark Stone, Open Source Editor  O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.    |
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