It needs to be included in the documentation, and in a fit of paranoia I started thinking about its copyright status

Usually Commons documentation is useful but https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Screenshots is confusing and not really clear for me.

Why license of software really matters? if it shows just a black triangle then it does not really matter what was license of code used to generate it?

Is Mac/Windows/Linux styling of window borders eligible for copyright? What about layout or icon in a title bar?

For specific example - what is the license of following file which is a screenshoot of a Firefix console:

enter image description here

Reddit is irrelevant, copyright law has plenty of stupid things but random tracking cookie values are not copyrighted as far as I know.

But what about icons, layout and so on? What is the license of that?

For bonus point: is this posting violating some license due to containing above image (probably no, fair use likely applies)

Maybe I should just declare "no copyright, if copyright applies then it is fair use and anyway anyone suing me over this can do 118818283 things more dangerous for me". Though I planned to do a full copyright review of all graphical assets in a repository and my dumb script found also this one.

  • 3
    In your screenshot example, all of the icons, etc. are copyrighted and are probably licensed in some way (maybe they're even forbidden to be redistributed), but the fact that you took this screenshot for the purpose of documenting something (e.g. as showing some kind of output, showing someone how to do something, etc.) probably makes any kind of incidental copying like this fair uses or fair dealings. Maybe it's better to ask about this on law.stackexchange.com.
    – Brandin
    Sep 1, 2022 at 10:01
  • 2
    In any case, the fact that the software in question here (Firefox) happens to be open source, is not that relevant to the question. Even if it were Safari in your screenshot, which is a closed source product, I think you'd be in the same situation. It's been a while since I used it, but I think Safari and other browsers also have a very similar looking debug console, though of course the specific details like the specific icons each one uses, will vary from browser to browser.
    – Brandin
    Sep 1, 2022 at 10:15
  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because it does not relate to open source. The fact that an open-source product is shown is incidental to the question about the copyright status of the screenshot. Sep 1, 2022 at 10:58
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau I ran into it while making documentation for my open source project. Sorry if that is not sufficiently connected. Sep 1, 2022 at 12:28
  • 1
    You only need a license if what you're making is a derivative work of the original and if it's not a fair use. A screenshot of Firefox is almost certainly not a derivative of Firefox. Similarly, if you made a screenshot of Microsoft Word, that is not a derivative work of Word, so you don't need to get Microsoft's permission nor a license for that screenshot (with 99% certainly, they wouldn't give you a license, even if you asked).
    – Brandin
    Sep 2, 2022 at 11:15


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