I made some icons for the german definitions of access derived from the well known symbol of access for a website. Now I have multiple requests, if the symbols are free to use. I like to host them on github with an SVG source for other projects to use them. But on diving into the legal issues, I do not really know, if I can offer them for free use.

The original work is from Susanne Koefoed from 1968 and modified from Karl Montan 1969. Since 1984 it is part of the standard ISO 7001. According to the source on wikipedia, this icon is free to use:

original work

But the templates I used from and with courtesy of http://www.mobidat.net/ seem to be from an derived work from the Graphic Artist Guild. This icon seems free to use but I did not find any copyright information on their website:

Graphic Artists Guild varian

My set of symbols have slightly different proportions, do not have foots and a different angle for the legs. Here is the part of the derived work:

enter image description here

My question is, if or how I can publish a derived work of a derived free work for free use?

  • 2
    Legal questions should always be directed to a legal professional with expertise in the area of law at question (i.e. copyright) and in your jurisdiction as copyright laws can be different across regions/states/nations. We can't provide legal advice nor should you really want our legal advice.
    – bemdesign
    Jun 10, 2015 at 3:59
  • We are not your lawyers
    – joojaa
    Jun 10, 2015 at 4:56
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    @joojaa Thanks for the answer. By the way, I do not want anyone beeing my lawyer. If taking a lawyer is the right answer, it is ok. I just hope for an answer how to handle a problem like this. Jun 10, 2015 at 9:09

2 Answers 2


In general, a work derived from a free work is subject to regular copyright and thus you cannot plainly use it, even if the derived work’s creator put it online for free. This is part of the Berne Convention:

Translations, adaptations, arrangements of music and other alterations of a literary or artistic work shall be protected as original works without prejudice to the copyright in the original work.

However – and this is my personal useless opinion – I would say that your symbol sufficiently deviates from the intermediate symbol to not be counted as a derivative work. Most commonalities can be traced back to the original, free symbol, and using rounded forms to represent humans is not copyrightable. However, when it comes to this, this is upon a court to decide, as I am not aware of a legislation which would have laws detailing what is a derivative to this extent. Thus, all you can do is take a look at comparable precedences (which is more helpful, if the relevant legal system is based on these), if there are any.


I'm pretty sure that you are free to use it.

These Icons are made to unify and to help people. Everyone knows what that icon means, so it would be stupid to forbid people to use it when they need it.

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    Unfortunately, if somebody sues you, you cannot just rely on what is stupid and what isn’t.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jun 10, 2015 at 6:36
  • That is my opinion too. But @Wrzlprmft comment is the point, why I asked this question. Jun 10, 2015 at 9:12

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