[Foundation-l] Swedish Wikipedians removes Wikimedia logos

Robert Rohde rarohde at gmail.com
Mon Mar 29 22:44:43 UTC 2010

The related issues have been discussed on Commons, Enwiki, and Meta,
at various times and places in the past.

There is a legitimate concern that the inclusion of non-free logos is
bad for reusers.  On sites like Commons, which are expected to be
exclusively free content, it also creates confusion to have thousands
of non-free logos and derivatives.

Personally, I also feel that it sets a bad example for a free content
company like WMF not to have any formal policy on the third party use
of their logos.  Even within Wikimedia there is no agreement about
what is allowed and what isn't, except that Mike and others have
generally said they don't object to most uses by the community, even
while reserving full copyright control and the right to object in the

It has been three or four years since I first asked members of the WMF
to draft a policy on logo use that would be clear about what is
allowed both in the community and for reusers.  One option is to
release the logos under copyleft, but that has historically been
flatly rejected by the WMF on the grounds that copyright is necessary
for brand protection.  I don't think copyleft is incompatible with
brand protection, but even if one assumes it is, that isn't the only
option.  One could still write a policy that made it clear internally
and externally that logos can included and reused alongside Wikimedia
content, and when derivatives can be created, without going all the
way to copyleft.

Given that we don't have clear policies regarding logo use, I think
the Swedish Wikipedia decision is entirely defensible.  I don't think
it is a good outcome, however.  A good outcome would be one that
explicitly establishes the allowed uses of the logos and their
compatibility with our larger free content mission.

Most of the time when this issue comes up, people just shrug and look
the other way, but I don't really think that is a good approach for
people that want to be respectful of copyrights.  I would also note
that the Meta community moved to a public domain logo some time ago in
part because of the desire to avoid a copyrighted logo.

-Robert Rohde

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