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Vector Graphics and Icon Licenses

I have been working on a few applications in the last year but noticed that they look out of date compared to most new applications. The problem is that I have been using the Visual Studio icon set or leaving buttons and menu items without a graphic. Microsoft has been shipping the same sample icons since at least Visual Basic 3.0. Needless to say the state of art for icons and other computer images has advanced since 1993. As I personally have very little artistic skill I had to start looking for more modern looking graphics.

Considering I use FreeBSD quite a bit I, of course, started playing around the KDE and Gnome icons but ran into a license roadblock as those graphic elements are licensed under the GPL. The applications I am developing will be distributed under another license so I am precluded from using these particular icons. It does not appear particularly clear how one should go about licensing these images from the original authors under an alternate agreement. I wonder how this might make developing non-GPL software for Gnome and KDE which blends in nicely with the other applications within the environment. Some icons are licensed under LGPL but a lot are GPL.

After looking around for companies that sell icon sets for what I consider reasonable prices (somewhere less than $50), I found quite a bit of variation. In the end I bought a copy of Susan Pichotta’s Roma set (www.aceicons.com). The primary reason I chose to go with this particular set is that I looks reasonable and I know the artist through the ASP and AISIP. As I get further along I might have to see if Sue will be willing to create a few specific icons in the same style as the set but the new artwork has already helped spruce up the look of my applications.


When I read this it got me wondering .Thanks for sharing your experience.
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Frank Rietta
Many of the icons and artwork used by free software are very good, but it can be difficult figuring out who holds the copyright on any given piece. There are a number of designers selling icon sets in various styles. Perhaps if you find an artist with graphics that you like and the default license agreement is not ideal for your project, you can propose an alternate agreement. An additional benefit to working with a particular designer is that he would likely be able to create additional artwork specifically for your application that is in the same style as the stock graphics.

I’m facing the same kind of issues with icons licences. I’m working with others in the development of a Web application for my company’s corporative intranet. Since this Webapp is intented for future use in foreign corporate intranets (Germany, USA, etc), well, licenses & legal stuff are critical issues.

We want royalty-free, preferably (L)GPL or CC, icons. Obviously, we can’t make the our software GPL since its intrinsically owned & copyrighted by our company.

About Frank Rietta

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Frank Rietta is specialized in working with startups, new Internet businesses, and in developing with the Ruby on Rails platform to build scalable businesses. He is a computer scientist with a Masters in Information Security from the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He teaches about security topics and is a contributor to the security chapter of the 7th edition of the "Fundamentals of Database Systems" textbook published by Addison-Wesley.