[CentOS-devel] Opensourcing the CentOS brand creative work, licensing thoughts

Thu Sep 1 17:00:09 UTC 2022
Shaun McCance <shaunm at redhat.com>

On Sat, 2022-08-27 at 13:54 -0300, Alain Reguera Delgado wrote:
> Dear community,
> I would like to bring up this topic once again because it is relevant
> for the well-being of CentOS visual identity, and its future
> improvements on the long-term. This mail is probably for Red Hat
> Liaison, considering the legalities involved in relation to CentOS
> branding matters. Nevertheless, I would like to keep the discussion
> open to collect the vast majority of opinions possible about it.
> Considering the CentOS brand is presently a registered trademark of
> Red
> Hat, the exact questions are:
> 1. Related to CentOS brand changes, and design improvements: What
> does
> Red Hat allow the CentOS community to do, and not to do? Here,
> please,
> consider the legal and not-legal matters.

I'm not the liaison and so I'm not really speaking on behalf of Red Hat
here. From my experience in OSPO, we'd rather not involve Red Hat in
deciding everything. There are some places where we'd want to consult
with Brand or Legal (trademarkability, liability), but for the most
part, Red Hat doesn't need to be involved. Just don't do anything

> 2. Would it be possible for Red Hat to explicitly set the license
> under
> which the CentOS brand (creative/design) work is released, so to
> grantee its openness inside the CentOS community? If not, please,
> elaborate why, and share the expected process to follow in order to
> keep the brand design relevant through time.

So, I'm going to approach this from my experience on the GNOME board.
The GNOME logo is licensed under a CC-BY-SA license, which allows
people to modify and reuse it. But it's also trademarked, which means
you can't use it in a way that would imply GNOME is doing something it
isn't. This is deliberate, and was informed by Karen Sandler (actual
lawyer, previously executive direction of GNOME Foundation, now at
Software Freedom Conservancy). So, for example, there was one of those
"fish exfoliate your feet" places that used a modification of the GNOME
logo. This is allowed under the copyright license, and it's not a
violation of trademark because it's a different industry. But if you
used the GNOME logo to make, for example, a Linux distribution, then
there would be a clear trademark problem.

Again, not speaking for Red Hat here, but this is what I'd advise
CentOS (and most other open source projects) to do. Use an open license
like a CC license, but use trademark law to protect our identity and

Also, I am definitely not a lawyer, but Alain I think you legally hold
the copyright on the new logo, unless you did a copyright assignment.

> I deliberately have collected some thoughts[1] about the recent
> CentOS
> brand actualization process but am not sure if they are aligned with
> Red Hat needs and expectations. The goal here would be to make a very
> clean and simple statement about how much autonomy does the CentOS
> community have over its own brand. Also, complement the CentOS
> Trademark Guidelines[2] document with such information, since there
> isn't mention of it at the moment.
> [1] https://gitlab.com/areguera/centos-brand
> [2] https://www.centos.org/legal/trademarks/

I've been wanting to revamp our trademark use guidelines to be more
permissive in certain cases (for example, hosting providers showing
that they support CentOS). It would be nice to come up with wording for
these kinds of cases, and to have some ready-made badge with the logo
they can use.