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Are there any legal issues with publishing and sharing an application that loads a humanity system icon as default .desktop?

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disclaimer: I am not a lawyer

An excerpt from /usr/share/doc/humanity-icon-theme/copyright:


The Humanity Icon Theme is licensed under the GPL v2.

Parts of the work are based on the Tango icons, which are released under the
public domain.

So, the work uses the GPL version 2 license. AFAIK, this means that you can use it freely providing you've put a note in your program that you're using the Humanity Icon Theme which use the GPLv2 license.

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Thank you so much for the info guys. – Mariano Apr 17 '11 at 22:05

disclaimer: I am not a lawyer either

In a .desktop file you only reference the icon you are using. This means you are not copying or redistributing the icon so you can legally redistribute the application, even if it is under an incompatible licence.

If you copy or redistribute the icon, you need to adhere to the GPL v2 as Lekensteyn has said. Howeverh, as far as I know, the GPL requires no attribution, so you don't need to say you are using the Humanity Icon Theme.

You should note that if you merely reference the icon from the Humanity icon theme, this will require users to have the theme installed for it to show properly. You can solve this issue by distributing this icon as part of your application, storing it in /usr/share/pixmaps on installation then referencing it by name. For example, if your application was called 'my-app', you could install the icon to /usr/share/pixmaps/my-app.png and in your .desktop file you could put Icon=my-app. This would require you to abide by the GPL.

Even if your application is closed source, you could potentially distribute it as two packages - a closed source application package and a free icon package. However, I'm not entirely sure of how this would work legally.

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