[ubuntu-art] Ubuntu UI kit

Rob Oakes lyx-devel at oak-tree.us
Thu Aug 2 14:08:55 UTC 2012

On 08/02/2012 07:44 AM, Mirek2 wrote:
> Thanks for the replies.
> The SVG was done from scratch, but it aims to copy the exact look of the
> Ubuntu Ambiance theme, which I'm sure there's some copyright on.
> Unfortunately, I don't know the license it's under nor the contributors.
> Ideally, though, with Canonical's permission, I'd like to license it as
> permissively as possible, to encourage the widest adoption.
> Is there an e-mail address I could use to contact someone from Canonical's
> design team directly?
I was very curious about this, so I ran it by a lawyer friend. It 
depends on the country that you're in, but copyright may not apply here. 
While you've attempted to create a work which closely matches the 
appearance of elements of the Ambiance theme, you've done so in a new 
medium and made use of a novel layout. Generally, just because something 
looks like something else doesn't make it a derivative work. Intent 
matters a lot too.  This is why you can copyright Harry Potter, but not, 
a wizard boy goes to school and has many adventures. Moreover, the 
ability to copyright all elements of a design is highly contentious and 
not recognized in a lot of countries and jurisdictions. (I know, you've 
explicitly stated you wish to clone Ambiance, which makes this a 
derivative work, but I'm trying to make a larger point.) In this case, 
what you're looking at is trademark, which has a whole different set of 

Canonical has pretty clear about how they wish to see Ambiance used (see 
https://launchpad.net/light-themes and 
http://www.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/TrademarkPolicy). This was taken from their 

Ambiance is licensed under: Creative Commons - Attribution Share Alike, 
Other/Open Source (Unless otherwise indicated, artwork is available 
under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license v3.0 or any 
later version.

To comply with this license, you need to:

1.) Acknowledge your UI kit is a derivative work of Ambiance and provide 
appropriate attribution
2.) Be willing to share it with those who would like to further build on 
your work, and allow them the right to do so as well. You could even 
charge for it, if you wanted (again, not a factor, just a general point).

For further questions, see the urls I provided above.

If you wish to touch base with the design team (though it's not clear 
that they are the responsible parties for Ambiance), you can reach 
through the Canonical Design site: http://design.canonical.com/

If unable to help, they would probably be able to point you in the right 

Best of luck and thank you for the kit. I'm sure it will be very helpful 
to other designers. I've already been able to use it in mock-ups for a 
project I'm working on now.


Rob Oakes

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