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copyright on colorschemes for editors?



[ Please CC me and Matthew, we are not subscribed to -legal@ ]

Hi *,

recently, I was asked to package geany-themes[1] for Debian.
The release contains a set of configuration files (ini-style), which map 
certain colors and font-settings to certain text-types inside the 
editor, e.g. "comments are blue, italic".
Some of these files are own works by the Geany community, some are based 
on "famous" colorschemes like Solarized and a last set is ported from 
colorschemes for other editors (e.g. gEdit).

Sadly, some of the ported colorschemes have an unclear history and thus 
lack proper copyright assignment.
My question however is: are the old colorschemes relevant at all?

Let's assume the following as an example:
Mr. X designs a colorscheme "CS" for gEdit (XML file), decides which 
colors fit well together, which text blocks need to be bold, italic, 
etc.
Mr. Y likes this colorscheme, but he is using Geany. So he sits down and 
makes a similar looking theme "GeanyCS" for Geany (INI file). The color 
(values) are the same, but he had a lot work for matching them to the 
correct entries in a Geany colorscheme.

What is the relationship between CS and GeanyCS?
- Is GeanyCS a derivative work of CS? If so, license have to allow this.
- Is GeanyCS an own creative work, merely inspired by CS? Like everyone 
  is building cars with a black shiftstick? If so, Mr. Y can decide the 
  license on his own.
- Is GeanyCS not a work at all, as it is a mere port without own 
  creative work? Has is to be licensed as CS and copyright assigned to 
  Mr. X?

I would tend to "is an own creative work, merely inspired", but would 
love to hear some opinion from people more familiar with such topics 
than I am.

If you want an explicit example of such a clash, have a look at Fluffy 
[2], [3] and Railcasts 2 [4], [5].

Thanks in advance
Evgeni

[1] https://github.com/geany/geany-themes
[2] https://github.com/geany/geany-themes/blob/master/colorschemes/fluffy.conf
[3] https://github.com/mig/gedit-themes/blob/master/fluffy.xml
[4] https://github.com/geany/geany-themes/blob/master/colorschemes/railcasts2.conf
[5] https://github.com/mig/gedit-themes/blob/master/railscasts2.xml

-- 
Bruce Schneier can read and understand Perl programs.


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