Dangerous how? Do you know of any cases where an
sued for violating trademark law when it included a trademarked image
in one of its articles? Are there any trademark holders threatening
to sue Wikimedia for trademark infringement, in cases where the
copyright status is clear?
What about the forks and mirrors? Have any of them complained that
*they* were getting threatened over trademark issues?
I don't know the answer to these questions, so maybe it is a problem
and I just don't know about it.
The kind of things that do happen is as follows:
* In an article, we describe some product under a brand name, perhaps
with the false belief that this brand name is a "common term" and not a
* In the same article, we use an image of a product from a competitor.
* Both the producer of the item described in the article and the
producer of the photographed item may argue that we infringe on their
See? It's a question of context.
(When I say "that do happen", I mean that I have actually seen such
complaints sent to the Foundation or local chapters.)
If it is a problem (dangerous from a legal
perspective), then we
should be talking about banning trademarked images from all
not just from Wikimedia Commons.
I'm sorry, but the world is not in binary.
If you want not to risk trademark infringement, you would have to
prohibit ever mentioning a brand name in Wikipedia, since merely
mentioning a trademarked brand name in a context where the brand name is
misattributed to another holder may expose us to litigation. This is a
rather ridiculous proposal.
My humble opinion is that trademarks in images do not pose special
issues as long as the context of use of these images is reasonable for
our encyclopedic goals (i.e. we don't describe Foobie Cola by putting a
can of Foobar Cola).
Now, you will tell me that this makes in practice "unfree" images
because you won't be able to use them for any purpose. Another false
problem. Our images of living persons are not usable for any purpose in
a number of major jurisdictions, simply because misusing such images may
constitute an infringement on those person's privacy or "right to
image". As an example, if you take a photograph of a personality and
photoshop it onto a nude body, the personality may well argue that you
deliberately misrepresented her. Also, if you use a photograph of a
recognizable person in an advertisement, without that person's
authorization, that person, in many jurisdictions, will be able to argue
that you misused her image. Again, it's all about context.
maybe French Wikipedia is especially paranoid about
photos of buildings, for instance
I think a much more reasonable proposal, instead of trying to placate
all possible litigation aspects (which is ridiculous given how our way
of operating makes us a huge target for libel complaints), is to take a
pragmatic view: what do we reasonably risk?