I want to start an open source project that will provide ready-to-use business logos for use in mapping products. Part of the challenge here is that logos are trademarked and cannot be used without the express consent of the trademark owner. I'm willing to do the ground work to get permissions from a large set of the most common companies (I'm already about 30% of the way through that work. However, as the project grows, should a company decide to use my project for their own mapping needs I want them to be required to contribute their logo and allow for its use my the project. For example, a fast food chain with an arch shaped logo cannot use my project unless they are willing to contribute their logo to the project.

Are there any open source licenses out there that would support this?

  • Rather than require logo contribution, you should incentivize it. For example, if many companies already gave permission to use their logo in the software, and potential customers are using that software to find businesses, it may already be in other companies' commercial interest to allow use of their logo as well. – Brandin Apr 6 '18 at 5:40
  • I think I understand the spirit of the underlying idea, but what about cases where a company doesn't have a graphical logo? What happens when "the logo" is not a well-defined term (because there is a group of connected/cooperating companies that publish things under a set of commonly owned trademarks, etc.)? – O. R. Mapper Apr 9 '18 at 7:30
  • If a company doesn't have a logo, clearly there's nothing for them to contribute back - so feel free to use. In the case of a company that had multiple subsidiaries, if the subsidiary were using it, then the subsidiary would need to allow use of their logo in the project. If the parent were using it, they'd need to allow use of all of their subsidiaries logos. Alas, it's all meaningless as there's not a way to accomplish this using an open source license. – MrBubbles Apr 11 '18 at 21:52

No, there are no open source licenses that require contribution before you can use the project.

One of the most fundamental principles of open source software is that users of an open source project have the right to distribute the project further, with or without modification.
This right does not play well with a requirement to contribute back to the project, because if I would create a fork of your project, who should users of my project send their contributions to? What if they were required to send their logos directly to you, but they live in a country that doesn't allow them to communicate with people living in your country?

Another problem that I see with your project is that it is unclear how feasible a open source license is in the first place, but that could in part be because I don't really understand what your project is about.
At least, I seriously doubt that you can get an open source license for the logos of a large number of well-known companies. Even to get usage rights for the trademarks limitations can be imposed on you that are incompatible with releasing the project as open source.

  • while I don't like the answer, I agree with the issues that are outlined within it. – MrBubbles Apr 11 '18 at 21:52

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