Wikipedia:Copyright or Trademark

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The standards for use of on copyrighted images Wikipedia are different than the standards for images that are only trademarked.


Determining an image's copyright or trademark status[edit]

Is this image copyrighted?[edit]

  1. Did you take the actual photo (not scanning in a photo you found)? Does it contain something that is copyrighted? (explain freedom of panoramam)
  2. Was this image created prior to 1923? If so, use {{PD-1923}} or {{PD-1923-abroad}} as appropriate.
  3. Is this image the work of a US Federal institution? If so, is it the work of an entity that can claim copyright (i.e. NASA). Make sure you choose the appropriate tag and ensure it meets the criteria listed in XYZXYZ#XYZ
  4. Did you scan this image in?
  5. Did you find this image on the web?
  6. Is this image in the public domain in another country other than the US?
  7. big ones to add: European Union, PD-Pre1978, PD-1989, URAA
  8. Does the image consist of anything other than letters (no matter how ornate), simple geometric shapes, and/or simple shapes (i.e. arrows)? If not, go to "Is this image trademarked?"
  9. Was this image created and published in the United States prior to 1923? If so, its copyright has expired and it is a public domain image.
  10. etc.

Is this image trademarked?[edit]

Do the letters (no matter how ornate), simple geometric shapes, and/or simple shapes (i.e. arrows) form other artistic figures? Examples: Washington State University logo, ASCII art, a bitmap image. If so, the image is eligible for copyright. If not, the image is not eligible for copyright (explain why)

How to label images[edit]

Copyrighted[edit]

An image eligible for copyright protection should be labeled accordingly. These images must be used in at least one article and every use of the image must have a separate Fair Use Rationale.

Audio and music[edit]

Cover art[edit]

Logos[edit]

Stamps and currency[edit]

Promotional material[edit]

Fair use on Wikipedia only applies if it is not possible to replace such promotional image with a free image.

  • {{Non-free promotional}}—for an image freely provided to promote an item, as in a promotional photo in a press packet

Screenshots[edit]

Art[edit]

  • {{Non-free 2D art}}—for low resolution images of two dimensional works of art under copyright.
  • {{Non-free 3D art}}—for images of three-dimensional works of art that are still under copyright.

Publicity photos[edit]

Fair use on Wikipedia only applies if it is not possible to replace such publicity image with a free image.

Trademarked and eligible for copyright[edit]

If a trademark is eligible for copyright, it must be treated as a copyrighted image. Only if the copyright has expired may the image be treated as a PD image.

Trademarked, but not eligible for copyright[edit]

These are public domain images and should be labeled with {{Trademarked}} and {{PD-textlogo}}. This does not relieve users of this image from noting Wikipedia disclaimers that such an image may be protected by trademarks. EXPLAIN WHY

Public Domain[edit]

Remember that most images you find on the Web are not public domain, even if they list no explicit copyright information. Images only qualify as being in the public domain if they fall under certain specific categories described below — very old works, works by certain government employees, and works where an explicit disclaimer of copyright has been made in writing by the author.

For a simple chart on US Public Domain regulations (Wikipedia servers are located in the US and fall under US guidelines) see the chart here.

General[edit]

  • {{OldOS}} — for maps and sections of maps taken from Ordnance Survey (OS) maps over 50 years old (currently by 1963).
  • {{PD-flag-70}} — for images of national, governmental, or historical flags out of copyright in those countries with copyright terms of life of the author plus 70 years
  • {{PD-font}} — for images that consist solely of rasterized characters from one or more typefaces.
  • {{PD-ineligible}} — for images that are inherently ineligible for copyright protection because they are based exclusively on common knowledge with no element of creativity. An example would be Image:F Major key signature.png or things like multiplication tables. If you have any doubts, please ask.
  • {{PD-old}} — for images where the author died more than 100 years ago (currently in 1913 or earlier). (Note: not where the work, image, or subject is 100 or more years old)
  • {{PD-US}} — for images published in the U.S. before 1923 or in some other cases.
  • {{PD-US-1923-abroad}} - for images first published outside of the U.S. before 1923.
  • {{PD-US-1996}} - for images first published outside of the U.S. from 1923 to 1977 (inclusive), but PD in the foreign source country on January 1, 1996. For the precise rules, see the template text.
  • {{PD-old-70}} — for images where the author (e.g., photographer, painter, graphic artist) died more than 70 years ago (currently by 1943). (Note: not where the work, image, or subject is 70 or more years old.)
  • {{Stamp-PD-US-1923-abroad}} - for images of postage stamps first published outside of the U.S. before 1923 and therefore PD in the U.S.
  • {{PD-Pre1978}} — for images published in the United States prior to 1978 without explicit notice of "copyright, year, owner" or "©" attached.
  • {{PD-Pre1964}} — for images published in the United States prior to 1964 for which copyright was not renewed within 28 years of the date of publication
  • {{PD-EU-no author disclosure}} — for images published more than 70 years ago (currently by 1943) without an attached claim of authorship.

Dedications[edit]

These tags are used for an author to attempt to release their work into the public domain, disclaiming any copyright. See Wikipedia: Granting work into the public domain.

  • {{PD-link}} — a statement intended to release a contributor's own work into public domain and request an entirely optional link back to Wikipedia from anyone reproducing it
  • {{PD-self}} — a statement intended to release a contributor's own work into public domain
  • {{PD-user|username}} — a statement intended to release a particular user's own work into public domain by a Wikipedian. For Wikipedians not on the English Wikipedia, use {{PD-user|username|language code}} where the language code is the two-character ISO 639-2 code (lowercase) that corresponds to the language of the Wikipedia where the user has an account.
  • {{PD-retouched-user|username}} — remarking that a previous PD work has been digitally enhanced, and re-released into public domain by a Wikipedian.
  • {{PD-author|name}} — stating that the work is released into the public domain by its author, whose name is given

Art[edit]

  • {{PD-art}} — for images of 2-D (flat) works of art where the artist died more than 100 years ago.
    • {{PD-art-life-50}} — for images of 2-D (flat) works of art published in the United States before 1923 where the artist died more than 50 years ago.
    • {{PD-art-life-70}} — for images of 2-D (flat) works of art where the artist died more than 70 years ago.
    • {{PD-art-US}} — for images of 2-D (flat) works of art published prior to 1923.
    • {{PD-art-3d}} - for images of 3-D works of art where the artist died more than 100 years ago. This license ONLY covers the work of art. Photographic reproductions of 3-d objects attract their own copyright, therefore the appropriate image licensing tag should be used in addition.
    • {{PD-art-70-3d}} - for images of 3-D works of art where the artist died 70 or more years ago. This license ONLY covers the work of art. Photographic reproductions of 3-d objects attract their own copyright, therefore the appropriate image licensing tag should be used in addition.

Intergovernmental[edit]

  • {{PD-Hubble}} — for public domain images from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope as described on [1] and [2]
  • {{PD-UN}} - for public information material designed primarily to inform the public about United Nations activities, not including public information material that is offered for sale
    • {{UN map}} - for UN maps in particular. The image should not claim to be a UN map, only to be based on one, and the original reference number should not be included.
  • {{PD-USGov}} - For works produced by an employee of the United States government in the performance of his or her duties. This blanket exemption does not apply to content published by other American governments, such as state, county, or city governments, who generally hold copyright unless they disclaim it.
  • {{PD-laws}} - There is an exception to the above. Edicts of government, such as judicial opinions, administrative rulings, legislative enactments, public ordinances, and similar official legal documents are not copyrightable for reasons of public policy. This applies to such works whether they are Federal, State, or local as well as to those of foreign governments. (Note: this is a nascent template; reference and discussion here. Please don't use 'till this note is removed.)
  • {{PD-US-patent}} - In general, the text and images of United States patents are not copyrighted.[3] In specific cases, patent applicants and holders may claim copyright in portions of those documents. Such applicants are required to identify the portions that are protected under copyright, and are additionally required to state the following within the body of the application and patent:[4] [5]

Other countries[edit]

Whenever an image is tagged using one of these tags, the image description page should also contain some rationale as to whether and why the image is presumed to be in the public domain in the U.S., too! See also {{PD-US-1996}}, which can be used to state that the copyright on the image was not restored by the URAA.

  • {{PD-AR-Photo}} — for photographs first registered in Argentina over 25 years ago. (Law 11.723, Article 34)
  • {{PD-Albania}} — for works after the author has died at least 70 years ago, or for joint works created or published more than 70 years ago.
  • {{PD-Australia}} — for published photographs where the creator has died at least 70 years ago, or photographs taken prior to 1955.
  • {{PD-AustraliaGov}} — for works published by the Australian government or held under Crown Copyright in Australia more than 50 years ago.
  • {{PD-AzGov}} - for official signs and emblems of Azerbaijan.
  • {{PD-Bangladesh}} — for photographs published in Bangladesh over 60 years ago.
  • {{PD-BrazilGov}} — for "Brazilian official symbols" i.e. flags and symbols.
  • {{PD-Brazil-no author disclosure}} — for images published more than 70 years ago with neither an attached nor subsequent claim of authorship.
  • {{PD-BritishGov}} — for images created by the British Government and published prior to 1956.
  • {{PD-Canada}} — for Canadian photographs not subject to Crown copyright taken before 1949.
  • {{PD-China}} — for photographs taken in China over 50 years ago, or for non-photographic images where the author died more than 50 years ago.
  • {{PD-Colombia}} — for all "works of art and literature" in Colombia whose creators died more than 80 years ago, for "folkloric works" or unknown authors, and for works whose creators had renounced to rights
  • {{PD-CzechGov}} — for state symbols and symbols of other self-governing units.
  • {{PD-Coa-Germany}} — for coats of arms of German corporations governed by public law ("Körperschaften des öffentlichen Rechts"). Note that while the design is free their use is restricted
  • {{PD-Ethiopia-Photo}} — for photographic work not part of a collection or not published in a book, bearing no author or author's agent name or address.
  • {{PD-GermanGov}} — for statutes, ordinances, official decrees or judgments issued by a German federal or state authority, or court
  • {{PD-GreekGov}} - for official legislative, administrative or judicial documents issued by the Greek Government.
  • {{PD-HK}} for images and photographs taken in Hong Kong where the author died more than 50 years ago, or unknown authorship works which were published over 50 years.
  • {{PD-India}} — for photographs, audio and videos first published by Indian citizens or the Indian government (and international organisations, per section 29) prior to 1947-01-01. See section 25 here[dead link].
  • {{PD-Iran}} — for works first published in Iran where all the authors have died more than 30 years ago, or photos or movies first published in Iran and published more than 30 years ago.
  • {{PD-Ireland}} — for works first published in the Republic of Ireland where all the authors died over 70 calendar years ago, or if the authors are not known, where the works were published over 70 calendar years ago. [6]
  • {{PD-IrelandGov}} - for works created by the Irish government or Oireachtas more than 50 years ago.
  • {{PD-Israel-Photo}} — for photographs taken in Israel or the British Mandate of Palestine over 50 years ago.
  • {{PD-Italy}} — for photographs taken in Italy over 20 years ago, or artistic photos taken over 70 years ago.
  • {{PD-Japan-Film}} — for Japanese films and images therefrom produced in 1953 or earlier
  • {{PD-Lebanon}}
  • {{PD-LT-exempt}} — Republic of Lithuania Law on Copyright and Related Rights says: "Copyright shall not apply to official State symbols and insignia (flags, coat-of-arms, anthems, banknote designs, and other State symbols and insignia)."
  • {{PD-MalaysiaGov}} — for works of the government of Malaysia first published more than 50 years ago.
  • {{PD-MD-exempt}} — Law of the Republic of Moldova on copyright and neighbouring rights (Chapter II, Art. 7b) states: "Copyright shall not extend to State emblems and official signs (flags, armorial bearings, decorations, monetary signs, etc.)"
  • {{PD-Netherlands}} — for works published in the Netherlands, Dutch East Indies, or Netherlands New Guinea over 70 years after the following January 1 when the work was published and works published by authors who died more than 70 years after the next January 1 of the author's death.
  • {{PD-NZ}} - for works made in New Zealand whose author died more than 50 years ago.
  • {{PD-Pakistan}} — for photographs published in Pakistan over 50 years ago, or for non-photographic images where the author died more than 50 years ago.
  • {{PD-Philippines}} — for works whose copyrights have already expired, released into the public domain, or ineligible for copyright as stated by Philippine copyright law.
  • {{PD-PhilippinesPubDoc}} — for official public documents (or portions thereof) made in the Philippines of a legislative, administrative or judicial nature.
  • {{PD-Poland}} — for Polish photographs published in Poland without a copyright notice prior to May 23 1994.
  • {{PD-PolishGov}} — for Polish government documents, materials, signs and symbols.
  • {{PD-ROC}} - for photographs taken in Taiwan or the Republic of China over 50 years ago, or for non-photographic images where the author died more than 50 years ago.
  • {{PD-ROC-GOV}} - For works of the ROC Government under the terms of Article 9 of the Copyright Act of the Republic of China is public domain.
  • {{PD-RomaniaGov}} — for Romanian state symbols and symbols of public authorities and organisation, and for Romanian currencies
  • {{PD-RU-exempt}} — exempt from copyright protection under the Russian law as per tag text.
  • {{PD-South-Africa}} — For works published in South Africa that are more than 50 years old.
  • {{PD-South Korea}} — For works published in South Korea whose most recently deceased creator died more than 50 years ago.
  • {{PD-Sweden}} for public domain images taken by Swedish photographers before 1944
  • {{PD-Thailand}} — for works of which copyright has expired in Thailand.
    • {{PD-TH-exempt}} — for works exempt from copyright protection under Thai law as per tag text.
  • {{PD-UA-exempt}} — exempt from copyright protection under Ukrainian law as per tag text.
  • {{PD-BY-exempt}} — exempt from copyright protection under the law of the Republic of Belarus. [7]
  • {{PD-VenezuelaGov}} — for "Venezuelan official symbols" i.e. flags and symbols.
  • {{PD-Yugoslavia}} - exempt from copyright protection by the Agreement on succession issues; Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Slovenia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, being in sovereign equality the five successor States to the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, have agreed in Vienna on 29th of June 2001. The Agreement came to power on 2004-03-25. [8]

Other[edit]

  • {{Gray's Anatomy plate}} — illustrations from the online edition of Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body, 20th U.S. edition, originally published in 1918.
  • {{PD-Bain}} - for images from the Bain collection of the Library of Congress
  • {{PD-OpenClipart}} — for images from the Open Clipart Library
  • {{PD-PDphoto.org}} — for images from http://www.PDphoto.org
  • {{money-US}} — for images of the official currency of the U.S. These are ineligible for copyright, and therefore in the public domain.
  • {{AMI}} — For images digitized by the Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland.
  • {{PD-software}} — The image is a screenshot of public domain software. The image itself is also in the public domain.
  • {{CopyrightedFreeUse-Link}} — The image is free to use for any purpose, but requests an entirely optional link back to either Wikipedia or another site.
  • {{PD-because}} — for public domain images with a special reason. Use the format {{PD-because|reason}}.

New Zealand government[edit]

Almost everything is covered by either regular copyright, or if it is a public service department, by Crown copyright, which in New Zealand has a 100-year term under Section 26(3)(b) of the Copyright Act 1994. This puts most recent material out of bounds. However, there is an exception to these provisions for some documents:

  • {{PD-NZSection27}} — for works created by some New Zealand government entities, which are covered by Section 27(1) of the Copyright Act 1994 [9]. The section excludes from copyright protection the following NZ works: Bills, Acts, regulations, municipal bylaws, Hansard, select committee reports, court judgments, Royal commission reports, commission of inquiry reports, ministerial inquiry reports and statutory inquiry reports. Note that sourcing these from a third party provider that, say, annotated Acts, is dangerous — they would have copyright in those annotations, and/or copyright in a new typographical arrangement [10].

How to use copyrighted images[edit]

Generally speaking, copyright protection is broad. It prohibits sale, use, manipulation, or even copying of someone else's work. One of the narrow exceptions of use is "fair use" – which basically allows the use of copyrights in order to identify the subject matter for purposes of public comment. Wikipedia policy is intentionally stricter than U.S. law with regards to copyrighted images. Any copyrighted image being utilized under "fair use" must meet all ten criteria of WP:NFCC.

Among these rules are WP:NFCC#9 which states that such images can only be used on "article namespace" pages. They may not used on userpages, templates, userboxes, etc.

While an image may be trademarked, it is important to

How to use trademarked images[edit]

Some images may only have a trademark

These rules about copyrights/fair use either may or may not apply to any particular logo you see on wikipedia. Most logos are copyrights. Some are not. Most logos are trademarks, but a few are not. In many cases they will be both. But in a fair amount of cases, a logo is considered a trademark without also being a copyright. This is most often the case for simple logos that only contain letters or simple geometric shapes. The rationale here is that such simple logos do not meet the threshold of originality required under U.S. copyright law. Simple letter/color/font combinations do not qualify for copyright status -- this includes "mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring. Likewise, the arrangement of type on a printed page cannot support a copyright claim." See the U.S. Copyright Office's Compendium of copyright registration standards, Section 506.03. So basically, mere letter or word elements, even if they look fancy, are not copyrights; typically, a logo has to have a "pictorial" element within it to qualify for copyright protection.

These types of simple logos are considered "public domain," meaning that anyone can use it – although the way that people can use a public domain logo may still be restricted by trademark law. Most basically, if a logo is used to identify a business/organization/product, then you are not allowed to use that logo to identify or refer to another business/organization/product. In general, this is not much of an issue on wikipedia. The Coca-Cola logo (the quintessential example of a trademarked but not copyrighted logo) is used on the Coca-Cola page, but not the Pepsi Cola page – so no trademark problems result.

For wikipedia purposes, a "public domain" image does not need a non-free content rationale in order to be used. Among other things, this means that public-domain images can be used in non-article namespace pages – e.g. userpages, templates (including userboxes), and the like – and as icons.

Identifying what is a copyright, trademark, or both has some cues to it. If you see an image bearing the notation ® or ™, that means that someone (but you don't know who) claims that this is a trademark (® denotes a "registered trademark," which many people often confuse as a copyright claim). If you see an image with the notation ©, then that means that someone (again, you don't know who) is claiming this as a copyright. These claims may or not be correct, and people need to use their own judgment. If you see an image without such a notation, that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

On wikipedia, every image, including logos, that you see will have been uploaded to a specific page that describes the picture. These should (but not always do) contain particular templates (or "tags") that describe whether the image is a (fair-use) copyright, is a (public-domain) trademark, or has some other rationale for its use on wikipedia. A copyright image should have a tag attached to it that looks like this:

The code you would insert on the image page to insert this tag is: {{Non-free logo}}

An example of such an image page would be the Apple Computer logo. Image pages with the {{Non-free logo}} tag should also contain some additional (often lengthy) explanations known as a "non-free media use rationale" that justify their use on wikipedia – this information is required because of Non-free content criterion #10.

Similarly, a trademark image should contain the following tag:

code: {{Trademark}}

And a trademark image that is simple enough that it does not qualify for copyright protection should be tagged:

code: {{PD-textlogo}}

Other potentially-applicable tags for more specific circumstances can be found at Category:Wikipedia image copyright templates.

An example of an image page with these kinds of tags include: the IBM logo image page. Normally the {{Trademark}} and the {{PD-textlogo}} tags are placed together. Also, under normal circumstances, a {{PD-textlogo}} image would not contain any "non-free media use rationale," because as a public-domain image, this explanation is unnecessary for use on wikipedia.

However, just because an image page is tagged as {{Non-free logo}}, {{PD-textlogo}}, or anything else, does not mean that this is determinitive. Like everything else on wikipedia, such tags are subject to change by any editor with an opinion – right or wrong. Often the tags are changed by editors subsequent to their uploading because of a difference of opinion. But in principle, a qualified {{PD-textlogo}} image should be freely usable on wikipedia in any context, as long as it does not misidentify its subject. Images that are tagged as {{PD-textlogo}} which have also been moved to the Wikimedia Commons have an additional indicator of being public-domain ("free") images – although again, this is not determinitive.

If editors have a disagreement about whether an image qualifies under the {{PD-textlogo}} standard or any other standard, it is highly suggested that, instead of engaging in revert wars, that the editors use each others' talk pages and submit the issue to the relevant noticeboard. Disputes about the qualifications of an allegedly public-domain image can be submitted to the possibly unfree images noticeboard. Disputes about the appropriate use of non-free content can be submitted to the non-free content review noticeboard. In other cases the request for commentary (RFC) procedure can also be used. Any questions can always be directed to the media copyright desk. Use of the incident noticeboard is discouraged unless one of the above processes have been tried first, and/or an editor is clearly acting in bad faith. Referral of an editor to this policy may also help avoid any misunderstandings.

BQZip01's notes[edit]

Everything that follows are simply my notes. They are not necessarily authoritative. They will not appear in this manner in a final version of this essay.


There seems to be a bit of confusion about trademarks and copyrights with respect to logos.

  1. A logo may be trademarked and/or copyrighted.
  2. A logo consisting of nothing but letters (no matter how ornate), simple geometric shapes, and/or simple shapes (i.e. arrows), it is ineligible for copyright. Therefore, it is a public domain image and should be labeled with {{PD-textlogo}} and {{Trademarked}}. This does not relieve users of this image from noting Wikipedia disclaimers that such an image may be protected by trademarks.
  3. A logo eligible for copyright protection should be labeled with {{Non-free logo}}

Logos consisting entirely of letters[edit]

If a logo consists entirely of letters, it is important to note the "intrinsic, utilitarian function" of those letters. As an example, the New York Yankees logo consists of an "N" and "Y" whose intrinsic, utilitarian function is to be an "N" and "Y". No matter how ornate, they are still letters and therefore ineligible for copyright and, hence, are PD images. This same logic does not hold for something like ASCII art where letters are arranged to form pictures. The intrinsic value of the letter has been used in a creative way in a manner not consistent with its use as a letter.

In short, ask yourself, "Are these letters, no matter how decorative, intended for use as letters, or do they have a purpose beyond the meaning of the letter like in ASCII art." 999,999 times out of 1,000,000 they are going to simply be letters and ineligible for copyright protection.

Lanham Act[edit]

largely taken from this source info; should be summarized in the near future

The Lanham Act was originally enacted as the Trademark Act of 1946. It has been amended several times. It is codified at 15 U.S.C. §§ 1051-1127.1 The Lanham Act provides guidance and remedies for both trademark infringement and trademark dilution.

Infringement[edit]

Trademark infringement occurs when a non-owner uses another’s trademark in a way that causes actual confusion or a likelihood of confusion between the marks. Specifically, the Act prohibits the use of marks that are "likely to cause confusion, or to cause a mistake, or to deceive."

In order to establish infringement, a plaintiff must first show that it uses its trademark use (you cannot simply register and then warehouse a trademark in hopes of some day bringing an infringement suit). They must also show that the trademark is distinctive. Lastly they must show that the defendant’s use of a mark is non-functional. A mark is non-functional when it is not inherent to the purpose or description of what it is representing. (For example, "bandage" is functional; "Band-Aid" is non-functional except when used to describe the product in question).

Dilution[edit]

A dilution case involves use of a mark in a "commercial context." This means that the use in question must actually be in the stream of commerce and could therefore make a profit for the user.

Dilution deals with marks as a "source indicators." This term refers to the ability of a mark to identify a user and/or its products and services. One of the most important aspects of using marks as source indicators is the reputation of a user and how that affects the public’s perception of the mark.

Dilution occurs when someone uses another’s mark in a commercial context in a way that lessens the power of the owner’s mark as a source indicator.

forms of dilution[edit]

The first is dilution by tarnishment, which is the diminishing of the power of the senior user’s mark because of its association with the negative aspects or connotations of the junior user’s use of the mark.

The second is dilution by blurring, which is when the power of the senior user’s mark is decreased because of the blurring of the mark’s distinctive quality caused by the existence of the junior user’s mark.

Ornate letters[edit]

It's ornate, so now what?

It doesn't matter, it is still a letter and is not intended as anything else than a standard letter.

Ornamentation on letters is specifically mentioned as something that is not copyrightable.

Works of art[edit]

Works of art with a letter in them are copyrightable, IMHO (show example), but it should be taken into account whether it is an ornate letter or an ornate drawing with a letter in it.

Where do we draw the line?[edit]

Bottom line: Determine if is letters with ornamentation or art with letters.

Add notes here[edit]

Uncopyrightable, yet trademarked images aren't unprotected as the General Disclaimers of Wikipedia explicitly mention how to treat such images.

User:Elcobbola/Copyright.

"Typeface" is a term defined by the House Report of the 1976 revision of the Copyright Act as follows:

"...a set of letters, numbers, or other symbolic characters, whose forms are related by repeating design elements consistently applied in a notational system and are intended to be embodied in articles, whose intrinsic utilitarian function is for use in composing text or other cognizable combinations of characters."[1]

It should be noted that "articles" in this case means "any medium in which it is used".
Eltra Corp. v. Ringer sets forth:

"Under Regulation 202.10(c) it is patent that typeface is an industrial design in which the design cannot exist independently and separately as a work of art. Because of this, typeface has never been considered entitled to copyright under the provisions of §5(g)."[2]

The United States Copyright Office sets forth:

"...mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring" ... [are generally not eligible for federal copyright protection]"[3]

There appears to be a misconception on Wikipedia and the Commons that only standard/publicly-available/etc typefaces (e.g. Times New Roman font, Verdana font, etc.) are ineligible for copyright protection. There is no support for this belief. If text falls within the definition of typeface above, it is generally not considered eligible for copyright; no consideration is given to prevalence or dispensation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ U.S. Code Congr. & Admn. News, 94th Congress, 2d Sess. (1976) at 5668
  2. ^ Eltra Corp. v. Ringer, 579 F.2d 294, 298 (4th Cir. 1978)
  3. ^ United States Copyright Office: What Is Not Protected by Copyright?