August 2, 2011 9

Linux and sharing, so awesome it just might be illegal

I'm a huge GNU/Linux fan and I like to think of myself as a FOSS advocate. So I chose an image of Tux to emblazon on my new credit card. There is some opaque process for determining which images can be used and which cannot, due to licensing issues. Unfortunately my image was flagged and denied, falling under "Celebrities such as actors, musicians, athletes, or cartoons." Now certainly Tux may be a celebrity, but that doesn't mean I can't use his glorious image! I mean, look at that mug!

Tux Credit Card

So not wanting to give up, I call in to appeal the decision. That's when things got funny:

Me: The image on the card is a cartoon penguin named Tux. Not like a cartoon you'd see on television though. He is the Linux mascot. Are you familiar with Linux?

Capital One CS: No response.

Me: Linux is a free, open source operating system for your computer. It is free to use, modify, share or sell. The image is free to use. I know it can be a funny concept for some people.

Capital One CS: Ok, and the organization is?

Me: ... There is no organization, Linux can be freely downloaded, used and modified by anyone, no one necessarily owns or controls it.

Capital One CS: And this is legal?

Me: *chuckles* Yes, it certainly is.

How about that? I've heard of people receiving this exact response before, but it is absolutely stunning to hear it myself. What does that say about our culture? Especially the culture in technology and software. It is certainly disappointing, but I will admit, there is a part of me that feels a glowing pride, knowing that Linux is so awesome, so mind bending to the common person, that hell, it might not even be legal. These days, let's ensure that it remains that way.

Tags:

  • Sushi Dude

    So did you get the card with Tux on it, or did they still deny it?

  • Nope

    >complaining about people limiting your freedom
    >having an “NC” clause on your blog posts

    Seriously? OH LOL

  • http://www.LibertarianAtheist.com Libertarian Atheist

    Yes, most people can’t even conceive of the damage wrought by “intellectual property” laws, especially patents.

    The problem really isn’t cultural so much as legal and people become used to norms which are propagated by bad laws. That is indeed sad.

    Proverbially, they can’t “see the forest for the trees,” all they are aware of is the environment in which we are now. This goes for other bad laws too, like corporate personhood and limited liability.

  • SlickMcRunFast
  • http://www.tjansson.dk Thomas Jansson

    I experienced a very similar thing with a Danish bank. They denied me the right to use a standard carbon fiber background found on the web. I then created my own image in Gimp, blogged about it and send them the documentation. They still denied the image regardless of their own terms. Sometimes you just can’t win a fight with a uneducated bureaucrat – so I gave up and now have one of their stock images. :(

    I anybody would like a absolutely free carbon fiber background you can see my blog post here: http://www.tjansson.dk/?p=1583

  • Joe

    I can’t remember which, but the image of Tux is actually copyrighted to either Linus or The Linux Foundation. Honestly cannot remember which it belongs to, though.

    Although either organisation obviously allows the image to be freely used, I can see why Capital One would be dubious.

  • Freyr Gunnar Ólafsson

    Perhaps it also means that you should change to a different bank, one that has human beings working for it and not drones.

  • atrus

    The case is under appeal, will hear back within 48 hours (by tomorrow). I know there are cards out there that give back to various Linux organizations, but this was only a new card, not a new account. I’m no fan of Capital One, but it’s still good to have long standing open accounts (this is my only one).

    Also, as far as the Non-Commercial licensing goes, as I mentioned to someone on Reddit, I am not as educated as I should be on copyright law and content licensing. I’ve vowed to educate myself (on a matter which I find important and near/dear to my heart), and have altered the license accordingly to something a bit more open. As I do some more reading I’d like to find something that doesn’t have an Attribution requirement, but hopefully this is good for now.

    Thanks for the feedback everyone!

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