I am working on an (as of yet) small project, a wallpaper generator that overlays SVG images like stencils on solid backgrounds, and I am unsure of how to properly go about licensing the art (largely under the Free Art License 1.3).

The section that is troubling me is:

You have the right to distribute copies of this work; whether modified or not, whatever the medium and the place, with or without any charge, provided that you:

attach this license without any modification to the copies of this work or indicate precisely where the license can be found, specify to the recipient the names of the author(s) of the originals, including yours if you have modified the work, specify to the recipient where to access the originals (either initial or subsequent).

And later summarised:

– How to use the Free Art License?

To benefit from the Free Art License, you only need to mention the following elements on your work: [Name of the author, title, date of the work. When applicable, names of authors of the common work and, if possible, where to find the originals]. Copyleft: This is a free work, you can copy, distribute, and modify it under the terms of the Free Art License http://artlibre.org/licence/lal/en/

Given that I'm generating the images client side, using a simple <canvas> element, I cannot include this information in the png Description line, or anything like that

Putting it in the corner of the wallpapers would be unseemly; so I am wondering if it would be enough to give the information in:

  1. In the source of the web app and
  2. In the application itself, say in a 'Licensing/Attribution' tab (this is how the art section of the GNU site appears to do it)?

Image on GNU site

Any help that can be offered is greatly appreciated.


It is a copyleft license because any larger work that includes part of the work you received must be released, as a whole, either under the same license or under a similar license that meets stated criteria. Please don't use it for software...


You might consider CC-BY or CC-BY-SA.
An example of attribution can be seen on Wikimedia Commons.

I would also place the information in a README or LICENSE file,
which is in the same folder as the art.
I would also add the information to the equivalent project level file.

  • Yes I appreciate that it's not a software license, and that it carries over to work derived from it, are you saying that the download that the user gets would have to contain said readme? Or can I do it similarity to the way the GNU site does it? (Just thought of that last option) – Joe D Oct 16 '16 at 6:00
  • @JoeD I was talking about the source code. What license are you intending on using for the program? – Honest Abe Oct 16 '16 at 6:04
  • Oh the program itself is very simple; I don't really care how it's licensed (unless the fact that it's using art under the Free Art License means I need to use a specific license). it's nothing fancy so the exact license isn't too important to me – Joe D Oct 16 '16 at 6:06
  • @JoeD Why choose a copyleft license for the art? It affects your choices for licenses, e.g. it is incompatible with GPL. Personally I would use GPLv3 and CC-BY-SA for the art. If you want everyone to be able to use it then consider MIT or BSD with CC-BY for the art. – Honest Abe Oct 16 '16 at 6:26
  • Because something I had in mind was licensed that way, but if I forget that specific piece, and choose to license everything under CC-BY, do I have any other concerns? – Joe D Oct 16 '16 at 6:31

There are two issues, licensing your application and licensing the images that it generates. I think your question is about the latter.

I'd embed the license information in the image. PNG supports textual metadata, which you put in a tEXt, zTXt, or iTXt chunk. If you are writing GIF or JPEG images, you can embed the license information in "comment" metadata.

As far as your software license is concerned, see Honest Abe's answer. And I agree that it's a good idea to also put the licensing info in a LICENSE file. But either way, there's a good chance that the image will get separated from a LICENSE file and also a good chance that the person reusing the image will strip the metadata from it; there's not much that can be done about that. In the next release of pngcrush I'll add a caution about removing such text, and I'll suggest that ImageMagick and GraphicsMagick do the same.

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