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Linspire Accused Of Misusing Creative Commons Art 534

SuperDuG writes "Seems that intellectual property and copyright laws are something that Linspire still doesn't seem to have a firm grasp of. Their flash intro has with it some popular Linux images made by a rather talented artist. An email to Klowner was the first notice he ever got about the images being hijacked, not once has Linspire requested permission to use these images in their ad campaign. They seem pretty similar to me, you be the judge."
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Linspire Accused Of Misusing Creative Commons Art

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  • by Mr. Darl McBride ( 704524 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:25AM (#8996623)
    While you're on about this, you might also ask why the painting of the four rasta musicians used in the Lindows Rock [] video isn't credited.

    I also see what I recognize as a stock Associated Press photo of Bill Gates, and I wouldn't be surprised if the other photos were borrowed without credit (or payment) as well.

  • Marketing... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mahdi13 ( 660205 ) <> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:26AM (#8996631) Journal
    It seems that Graphical Artists in any Marketing division seem to run into this problem all the time.
    Aren't the images on kde-look public domain? Or is there a disclaimer that forbids this?
  • by ericspinder ( 146776 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:27AM (#8996642) Journal
    From the referenced site...
    As of April 24th, the images are licensed under the Creative Commons License (Attribution/NonCommercial) which explicitly states that the work may not be used for commercial purposes, unless permission is provided by the author. Prior to the addition of the CC license on Klowner's wallpaper site, there was no specific copyright, although standard international copyrights still hold.
    So, the CC license wasn't applied when the flash demo was created, in fact it was a response to the art appearing on the commercial site. It's clear the the material was previously being offered "free" to anyone who wanted to download it, without any mention of a copyright. but does that imply a right to use the materical by a business. If you offer items for download, but do not state your intentions, does this allow commerical vendors to make a profit out of your work. I think that now that he has applied the CC license, future uses in presentations would be protected, but I am not sure of the offending one.
  • by SavedLinuXgeeK ( 769306 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:30AM (#8996684) Homepage
    I do not know. Linspire is trying really hard to gain a niche in the desktop market, and while Microsoft undoubtedly has shot their momentum down to nothing, they haven't given up. Im not defending their misuse of artwork or anything else but as a linux distribution, especially one that charges for the distro, I am sure that Linspire has a strong desire to correctly protect IP laws. And while I know I would be upset if someone misused my work, it was just a flash intro on the website. Honestly, it could have been much worse.
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) * <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:33AM (#8996733) Homepage Journal

    An absent statement of public license policy equals "All Rights Reserved" under the law.

  • Bait and switch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:34AM (#8996744)
    This title is misleading because the artwork had no CC license when originally posted. If your offer up your creative material with no copyright protection and state that it is free for all to use, why shouldn't Linspire (or for that matter Microsoft or SCO) feel free to use it?

    Changing the license afterwards like the author did in this case is also your right, but it is like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.

    FWIW, I've seen the same artwork in other Live CD's (Slax comes to mind) so Linspire aren't the only people who grabbed it.
  • by consolidatedbord ( 689996 ) <[moc.skcahsahi] [ta] [nodnarb]> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:36AM (#8996765) Homepage Journal
    It's a shame that this company who is supposed to be bringing the spotlight to desktop linux, is bringing it in such a way. First, we had the Microsoft mockeries on the website, and now blatant stealing of someone else's work. The sad thing, is that there are those out there who will start to think that open source software is about stealing other's source, and that that would be the only reason to keep it open. Sad, but probably true. It's companys like these that we don't need bringing a bad name to linux. I think it is time for the Lindash/Lindows/Linspire, whatever people to mature up a little bit.
  • by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:41AM (#8996830)
    But they're still using "LindowsOS" in much of the presentation. Good grief.

  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:47AM (#8996898) Journal
    That's true and given that Lindows' primary activities are modifying other people's work and passing it off as their own and engaging in legal conflicts mostly of their own making, you'd think they'd know better.

    Nonetheless, the story would be clearer and Lindows' actions would seem less distasteful if it explained that they took the images off a site with no explicit copyright statement and that the Creative Commons was only invoked afterwards.

  • by Steve_Jobs_HNIC ( 513769 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:50AM (#8996938) Journal
    Lindows is using a stolen image from Klowner, who's using a stolen style from Apple (read:Aqua Tux), who's using a stole system from Xerox, ...

    Side note, is it just me or has this shading technique been over used. I'm starting to see this stuff on cereal boxes.
  • by trick-knee ( 645386 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @11:54AM (#8996971) Homepage
    also see what I recognize as a stock Associated Press photo of Bill Gates

    they seem to have purloined the song as well. [] it might be in the public domain, however. or maybe they paid for it?

    anyway, they don't seem to mind taking stuff and not acknowledging where they got it from.

  • by happyfrogcow ( 708359 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:08PM (#8997131)
    What's your point about Calvin & Hobbes? Is it the "pissing Calvin" stickers that seem to adorn every pickup truck in the U.S.A.? That is a violation as far as I understand, and as far as the creator of C&H is concerned, but he doesn't give a rats ass aparently. Imagine a sticker of Mickey Mouse pissing on things. Disney would be up in arms over that. Disney wouldn't let me make an exact duplicate or a derivitive work of Mickey. Why is this any different?
  • Re:not surprised (Score:4, Interesting)

    by m1a1 ( 622864 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:11PM (#8997158)
    * cheesy, stupid names
    These abound within the opensource community. GNU anyone? How about K-everything or G-everything? Gnometris... Same Gnome. My god, you can't really single out Linspire here.

    * raping debian's bandwidth
    How? They have their own Click'n Run Repository. If users choose to use a Debian repository that's their perogative. You know, just like every other Linux user. I guess if you buy Linspire you can't play with the other Linux kids?

    * taking much, not giving back anything
    Let's see, they fund they've written several opensource apps, they pay everaldo []. Yup, those lazy bastards. Just remember, Michael Roberts may be an ass, but he has already contributed more to Linux than you ever will.

    * uninspired, copycat mentality So? Ever used Evolution or Kontact? How about rhythmbox or juk? Lots of copycatting happens. And you know what? It's necessary. There really is sometimes a best way to do things. You can't innovate every day. I don't see you bitching that KDE and Gnome use the desktop analogy. That was invented a Xerox-PARC! That's old shit! It just works.

    * loudmouth
    You got me there.

    * no attention to security (everyone runs as root)
    And there.

    So only 2/6 or your points were really valid. Nice work though. Have you considered getting job writing FUD for MS or some other major corporation?
  • Difficult Position (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ickoonite ( 639305 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:14PM (#8997188) Homepage
    Another day, another example of the cavalier attitude that Robertson has regarding IP, the community, everything...

    Michael Robertson is a strange creature, bucking the trend like Steve Jobs, but only in very, very bad ways. The funny thing is (funny in a really perverse kind of way), Jobs is generally the guy Linux zealots love to hate (he was the cool kid in school). Robertson is the Linux-popularising martyr for FOSS, the almost untouchable.

    Back in the day, was lauded as visionary, a chance for the music companies to make something of online distribution, and so on. When the RIAA poo-pooed this and went after, he played the prima donna and we all boohooed together - Michael tried so hard, he really cared about us, he identified with us, he wanted to free intellectual property. He was on our side. When died, defeat reverberated around the geek/FOSS world...

    So then this thing Lindows appears on the horizon, with talk of full Windows application compatibility, something that was later dropped when the WINE [] team realised what a prick Robertson was. When any other company [] makes crazy claims like that, someone [] will get on the case. In this case, the Lindows team rewrote history [] to erase this little hiccup from their PR. There are murmurs on the Internet about how source is not posted and so on, but somehow Lindows carries on.

    Then Robertson takes on Microsoft. Robertson is the Man again, the Good Guy fighting against every true geek's arch nemesis. When he loses, Microsoft are evil bastards beyond reproach (I am not suggesting that this isn't the case, but bear with me...).

    I think perhaps this could be put a clearer way - ask yourself only "Is my enemy's enemy always my friend, no matter what?" Personally, my answer to that would be no, but I suppose YMMV. Put it this way, I have no desire to ally myself with a person whose sole motivation to free the world from the shackles of IP (which would of course undermine the GPL) serves only to allow him to continue to profit off the unpaid labour of others.

    Robertson is not a visionary. He's the asshole who was never tough enough to beat all us Slashdot-reading geeks up, but never missed the opportunity to hurl abuse from just round the corner. And he strikes me as being from the same sort of management school as McBride - his ethics are about as loose.

    iqu :s
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:15PM (#8997200)

    Heh...I figure i'm pretty well qualified to speak on this subject, so, here goes.

    Running Propaganda for the past 6 years has taught me a few important lessons when it comes to human nature. The most important (and relevant) one here is, nobody walks all over you without your permission. Simply put, if you spread your cheeks and hang a neon sign on your ass, it's just a matter of time before you hear someone behind you unzipping their fly.

    People are essentially vultures. They look for a free meal wherever they find it. When they do, they converge on it, and take everything they can without thinking twice about it... Which isn't really bad, when you think about it -- If you're enough of a sucker to give your stuff away in the first place, there's a reasonable assumption on behalf of the vultures that you know what you're doing. Meanwhile, you lose your identity, piece by piece. You become less of a person, and more of a faceless generator set in place to make other people happy.

    It's amazing how people even have to be reminded of this idea -- If you don't want people using your shit, don't give it to them for free!

    I've got something like 14,000 images [] out there floating around. I see them pop up all the time.. screenshots, themes, hell even commercials on TV occasionally. It doesn't bother me. Why? Because I consciously gave them away. By giving stuff away for so many years, I effectively gave up my right to bitch about it. If you set a plate full of brownies in the middle of a room full of 5th graders, what the hell do you expect is gonna happen to them? They'll get wrapped in plastic wrap stored in a refrigerator? Hell no. It turns into a free-for-all, no pun intended. I hate to say it, but that's the truth..So pull your pants back up, and quit your "sensitive artist" crap. No one cares, and even if they did, you have no ground to stand on.

    Simple as that.

    Bowie J. Poag

  • by tommasz ( 36259 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:22PM (#8997274)
    Regardless of whether Mark derives income from sales of his graphics, it's clearly marked that his permission is required prior to use of the images. Not "if used in commercial work" or "free for individual use". They clearly didn't get his permission (or even ask for it) even though it was for use in a Flash movie.

    If they have such a cavalier attitude towards ownership of something visible, what might they have done with something not quite as obvious?

    Honestly, it could have been much better, too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:23PM (#8997287)
    Hear, Hear! I haven't heard the artist say he was offended. Perhaps he was stoked! (I would be)

    Note: I looked at the Lindows IPO. They are like $50 million in the hole and trying to crawl out; they said they don't expect to turn profit in the next few years, if EVER. So saying they should pay huge $ to use those pics is silly really and until you've spent your entire fortune and went way out on a limb borrowing millions of dollars just to promote Linux, try STFU.
  • by The Wicked Priest ( 632846 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:27PM (#8997322)
    Eh? The rasta art is credited (to "Colin F." at The credit screen appears at the end of the Flash movie.

    Unless they just added that credit in the last hour...
  • Re:Bait and switch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Crispy Critters ( 226798 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:33PM (#8997406)
    "It also means you have no right to download it seeing as downloading a file technically copies it (and yes, that technicality matters until a court rules otherwise)."

    So, the web is inherently illegal except for public domain material. Fascinating theory.

    Courts have ruled in other cases that incidental copies made as part of the normal use of a program do not violate copyright laws. It is hard to see that this is any different. You also ignore fair use. It is not illegal to tape a TV program so I can watch it at a different time, but it is illegal to make copies of the tape and sell them.

    I have read a few court rulings (simply as an interested citizen), and judges do not seem to make hyper-technical interpretations of the law (such as claiming it is illegal to browse a copyrighted web page without an explicit license) when they defy common sense.

  • by saden1 ( 581102 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:35PM (#8997424)
    He might have been inspired by apples Aqua Look but his work is original and in the fact that he actually created the images of penguins. Lindows on the other hand took his entire work and simply claimed it all on their own. I don't blame Lindows itself bur rather the person in their art department who is dumb enough not to seek permission. That individual needs to be fired. Did they really think no one would notice?

    Lindows should promptly compensate this gentleman. I think $500 would do it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:40PM (#8997465)
    > I think everyone can acknowledge right now that we'd be better off without them, right?


    My *_personal_* opinion is this: they are clumsy. But they are on our side. Think Jar Jar here.

    And they support KDE. This puts them very high on my scale.

    Please educate them, don't bash them.
  • Re:not surprised (Score:3, Interesting)

    by One Louder ( 595430 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:51PM (#8997614)
    Actually, he bought the domain from somebody else explicitly for the purpose of building a music portal.

    A squatter is someone who buys a domain containing somebody else's trademark - who had the trademark on "mp3"? Hint: nobody.

  • Re:Bait and switch (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mr. Hankey ( 95668 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:56PM (#8997684) Homepage
    The question isn't whether the artist was negligent about posting a license. He assumed that his intent was clear, obviously not everyone gets it. He's learned this lesson the hard way, and has put a license on his site now.

    The question is, why did Lindows/Linspire/... choose to use these images without even contacting the artist? The least they could have done is drop a note before using it in a commercial product. They do intend to make a profit using the artist's efforts. If a company uses a major label's song or logo in their product without asking, they'll surely be hearing from the RIAA's thugs. If it has to be this way, then there should be no double standards. Companies should also pay for content created by people.
  • by b-baggins ( 610215 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:56PM (#8997686) Journal
    But I thought everyone was supposed to make money off of support contracts in open source.
  • BFD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by caldroun ( 52920 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:57PM (#8997704) Homepage Journal
    So what. I made Icons [] that are all over the place, and I dont care. If he didn't have a CC license on it before, they were probably used then. Besides, Lindows sponsers the He ought to be happy that they give him and others a place to display their work.

    Also who is this guy that made the webpage? Is he speaking for the author? Where is the Authors response?

    BTW: Did anyone contact Linspiredows a call before flipping out about it?
  • by lcsjk ( 143581 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @01:06PM (#8997806)
    I am copying this here because I don't think its fair to jump to conclusions without knowing the facts!!!!!
    ananicon writes (this is further down in the replies):
    This is extremely interesting on many levels since the artist changed the licensing terms for his art 2.5 business days ago. What were the licensing terms before then? The artist doesn't say, and neither does his web site. I'm not saying the artist is right and Linspire is wrong, but these questions are entirely unanswered:

    1. What were the pre-4/24 Creative Commons licensing terms? Did the artist change the terms after Linspire had already grabbed the art and used it? If so, it's pretty oily for an artist to change the licensing terms for their art *after the fact.* I'm not saying this happened, but to be blunt, there's no documentation either way.

    2. By default, the user isn't obliged or required to notify the person whose art they're using as long as they abide by the CC license. Look it up and see for yourself on

    3. The person posting this story says "not once has Linspire requested permission to use these images in their ad campaign." Uh, no shit Sherlock. If the artist's pre-4/24/04 license didn't forbid their use in a commercial medium, Linspire isn't required to get his permission - it's self-evident in the license.

    Sorry, but until there are more details, the person posting this story may either be 100% right or 100% f*cked-in-the-head. For now, I'd hold off on crucifying Linspire until all the details are reported. So far, they haven't been...
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
  • It does however make it difficult to collect damages in case of infringment since the defendant can claim that he was unaware that the images were copyrighted.

    Now that really doesn't make sense. If the Berne Convention makes copyright notices unnecessary, then it should be assumed that any image you find is copyrighted unless other notice is given. I don't think you can use cluelessness as a defence.

  • by ShinyBrowncoat ( 692095 ) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:38PM (#8999031) Homepage
    It appears the offending images (and the section/chapter of the flash they were in) have been removed. No apology or recompense for Klowner though, I guess?

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