Using screenshots of emacs and bash in a book

David G. Miller dave at
Thu May 31 14:01:17 UTC 2007

"Paul F. Johnson" <paul at> wrote:

> Hi,
> Does anyone know if there would be any conflict with either the GPL or the use
> of screenshots of bash and emacs in a book I'm currently working on? If there
> is, who would I need to approach to get permission from?
> The book will be published by nostarch.
> Paul
First off, I am not a lawyer so this does not constitute legal advice.

The GPL *ONLY* pertains to distribution of software.  In a nutshell, if 
you distribute a GPLed program, you must make the source code 
available.  So, the GPL does not pertain to screen shots since you 
aren't distributing the program.

On the other hand, if your screen shot includes trademarked material 
(e.g., the Red Hat "shadow man" logo) or material otherwise covered by 
copyright (your screen shot explains how to rip a Hollyweird movie), you 
should make sure your use isn't considered infringement.  Typically, 
something that gets included in a screen shot  would be considered "fair 
use" but Google just had a huge legal fight over including thumbnails.  
Your best bet is to keep away from anything that might cause a problem.


Politics, n. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.
-- Ambrose Bierce

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