copyright on colorschemes for editors?
[ Please CC me and Matthew, we are not subscribed to -legal@ ]
recently, I was asked to package geany-themes 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,
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
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
,  and Railcasts 2 , .
Thanks in advance
Bruce Schneier can read and understand Perl programs.