Are screenshots from GPLed software free?

Ben Finney bignose+hates-spam at
Thu Jul 25 04:29:54 UTC 2013

Guillaume Ponce
<hacker at> writes:

> Can screenshot from GPLed software be used freely in documents?

The GPL does not restrict such use. Taking a screenshot of a program
running is not a derived work of the program.

But there can easily be other works under copyright that are in the

For example, a screenshot of the Gimp is not a derived work of the Gimp,
and nothing in the Gimp's license restricts distribution of the screen

But a screenshot of a Gimp window displaying the Mickey Mouse logo would
require permission from the copyright holders to use in a derived work.

You can see how this can be generalised: the screenshot needs to have
permission from *all* copyright holders in any part of the work which
would be considered restricted by copyright law.

> E.g. can images from Stellarium, a planetarium software under GPL v2,
> be used for public communication by an amateur astronomy association?

It depends what the screen shot is showing. The program's GPLv2 license
would not restrict that action, but I don't know what data set you're
using and what the license of that data set is.

 \     “I'd like to see a nude opera, because when they hit those high |
  `\      notes, I bet you can really see it in those genitals.” —Jack |
_o__)                                                           Handey |
Ben Finney

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