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I am looking at some highy geometric flags used by the the extended LGBT community.

Many of these are not able to be copyrighted (according to wikimedia) Because the consist only of:

  • Choice of Color
  • Geometric Shapes

and these factors do not contribute to the creation of an original work.

Several of the flags I am looking at. For example:

Agender Flag     Genderfluid Flag       Genderqueer Flag
Agender      Genderfluid,       Genderqueer

All of which are listed on Wiki-Commons as are licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Since they are not (AFAICT) copyright-able. Are these licenses thus void? And so can I include it into my own open-sourced work without issue?

Does the validity of the license stem from the validity of the original copyright?

  • This should really be migrated to Law. – curiousdannii Apr 25 '16 at 0:04
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    @curiousdannii Why? I mean It on topic on Law (probably, I'm not sure). But its definitely on topic here too (isn't it?). Please go into more details. (I guess the relevant meta is meta.opensource.stackexchange.com/questions/11). I guess it could be argued that it applies equally to general licenses as it does to the CC licenses involved. but I'm not so sure that is itself makes it off topic. hmmmm – Lyndon White Apr 25 '16 at 0:33
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    I see this site as concerning the use and application of FLOSS licenses. To be an expert on this site it is usually enough to be a careful reader of the terms of a license. But the terms of licenses don't address whether a work is actually copyrightable (or I'm not aware of any that do). To answer that kind of question you need someone with copyright law expertise, which is why I think it would be much better suited to the Law site. Also, your question would be the same if the images had some kind of non-FLOSS license, which shows it doesn't really fit here. Hope that makes sense. – curiousdannii Apr 25 '16 at 1:28
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    I hear what you are saying, for sure. Focusing on my particular case: the question of "X has a license but is not copyright-able; can I incorporate it into my open source project Y, and ignore its license entirely?" While the liscense on X could be open or closed and it would not change the question. The liscense on Y is open source, and thus highly relevant and on topic. (It is central to the creation of things like Wiki Source, Project Guttenburge etc. which incorporate versions of public domain works that never the less publishers put licenses on (at least at one point in time.)) – Lyndon White Apr 25 '16 at 2:02
  • Closely related/Possible Duplicate of: opensource.stackexchange.com/questions/2716/… ? – Lyndon White Apr 25 '16 at 2:02
4

If there is no copyright, then open source licenses generally do not bind you.

Whether there is copyright in this case is a legal question, for your (company's) lawyer(s). You should not assume this is the case, if it at all matters.

  • Whether or not a work passes the threshold of originality to be eligible for copyright is generally for a court of law to decide. A lawyer might only give their estimation how they expect a court would rule in a specific case. – Philipp Apr 25 '16 at 16:14
  • @Philipp: You don't want to go to court. It's terribly expensive. Start with the lawyers and see what they tell you. – Kevin Apr 25 '16 at 16:15
  • A lawyer would very likely tell you the same: "In case ABC vs. DEF the court WXY ruled that a similar design is [not] eligible for copyright, but in this specific case there is a chance a judge would rule differently" – Philipp Apr 25 '16 at 16:19
  • @Philipp: Or maybe they'll say "there is no precedent to support your case and you should not try this." You don't know until you ask. – Kevin Apr 25 '16 at 16:21
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You cannot ignore the licences with regards to the image file, as the image file can be copyrighted even if the image contained within can't (as in photographs of mountains, for example). However, if the design itself cannot be copyrighted (which is not so simple, and would be a matter of law), then you can copy the design.

There also is the question of fair use, which is again beyond the scope of this group.

  • I somehow doubt the file can be copyrighted. The file format, perhaps, though even that seems like more of a matter for patents. – ArtOfCode Apr 26 '16 at 15:48
  • I do not believe that that is the case, as the file itself should be no worse than a photograph, which is copyrightable to the photographer. – Display name Apr 26 '16 at 16:27
  • You're not really making sense there. The photo can be copyrighted, sure. I'm not sure that the file it's stored in, if you're making that distinction, can. – ArtOfCode Apr 26 '16 at 16:32
  • If you could copy the file itself and make use of that at will, how is the photo copyrighted? – Display name Apr 26 '16 at 16:48
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    That much is correct, but that's not the distinction you seem to be making in this answer. – ArtOfCode Apr 26 '16 at 18:32

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