[Linux-aus] Fwd: Use of Penguin Image on Instant Scratchie Tickets.

Jon 'maddog' Hall maddog at li.org
Mon Jun 18 13:17:48 UTC 2007


What is the goal of your investigation into the use of "Tux" on the
lottery tickets?

o to force them to take Tux off the tickets?
o to force them to change the tickets to acknowledge Larry and the GIMP?
o to "police and protect" Tux from being used in other ways (plumbing,
ice cream, etc.)?
o to create a newsworthy event that would thrust Tux, Linux and Larry
into the limelight?

The first two would probably cost the Australian lottery thousands of
dollars, and might cause them to eliminate the Tux image from their
lottery altogether.  Even changing the art to put in some verbiage some
place would cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.  If they are
going to change the artwork of the tickets in the future, perhaps they
would put in the verbiage, and that would be nice.  But forcing a change
at this point would be expensive.

The third is something that you probably could not do, since you are not
the copyright holder.  Perhaps if Larry wrote a letter to the lottery
commission as the original artist and copyright holder, then the
commission (or the courts) might do something.  Even then, the
"licensing" of Tux is pretty ambiguous.  You, for example, are not
"asking" about where the drawing came from, you are telling them.  And I
have seen many, many, many renditions of Tux which has no verbiage
attached to it acknowledging either Larry or the GIMP.  It is entirely
possible that the graphics firm picked up the image from some place
where the "licensing" was not visible.  And unless Australian law is
fairly different from US law in this respect, usually a "third
party" (you) can not enter into an issue like this from a legal
standpoint.  It has to be the copyright holder, or someone who directly
represents them.

The last bullet is something that could be done, but could also backfire
as being another of those things that "loony free software people do",
and again should probably be done with Larry's involvement, or at least
his knowledge.  It could get more people to actually acknowledge Larry
and the GIMP when they use Tux, or it could just cause people to find
some other drawing of a penguin to use.

My personal thought on this is that having "Tux" on the lottery tickets
opens the door for free software people to tell lottery ticket buyers
about Linux and free software.

In the case of the trademark "Linux", Linus really wanted it to go into
"the public domain".  However that created two problems:

o in the early days of Linux the trademark boards did not know about the
term, and therefore would grant trademarks to companies for "Linux".
This becomes harder to do, and easier to overturn, as time goes on,
with Trademark boards either recognizing Linus' claim, or stating that
the term is generic.

o it allows people to use the term "Linux" for bad things too

This has been pointed out to Linus, but it is still his desire for
"Linux" go be used in any way.  Ergo if the lottery wanted to call
itself the "South Australian Linux Lottery", as far as Linus is
concerned, that is fine.  Walking the fine line between Linus'
wishes and what is legally required to protect a trademark has cost
a lot of time and money.  I think that Larry wanted to avoid those

My two cents on the matter.

Warmest regards,


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