New GPL Icon Set Available (can use with WordPress Drupal Joomla)

Icons that can be used for the development of open source projects, themes and plugins are very rare. So many designers are either a little lax in their licensing, or opt to use creative commons licenses.

They would choose to use creative commons often because they think it is “free” or because they want attribution, and maybe the links that go with it.

I recently covered the inconsistant use of creative commons icons in themes.

Today I just heard one icon set owner has updated the licensing terms for his icon set from a general “free to use for any purpose” statement, to be officially GPL.

I found out about this quite by chance.

I saw a little trafic in my stats from a thread on, where part of a theme project had been flagged for removal from their CVS code system because it contained icons with an incompatible license – FamFamFam Silk.

The developer, Edison Wong seemed to have found an alternative, Spirit20 but the wording wasn’t quite up to the Drupal requirements, which are effectively the same as WordPress.

The theme developer contacted the icon designer, Dale Morrell on Facebook, explained the situation, and now the icons have been switched to a GPL license.

It looks like a nice Drupal Theme.

There are 2 sets of icons

Macchiato – Social

This is a sample of 29 icons, with a full set still to be released



spirit20 consists of almost 500 transparent PNGs at 20×20 pixels


Go Grab These GPL Icons Now

Licensing Confusion Is Rife

It looks like Edison was thinking about using the Circular Icon Set.

But there is a conflicting license on the site.

The Products Page

Claims Creative Commons

Circular Icons Creative Commons

Creative commons is not GPL compatible, and doesn’t guarantee rights in the same way – it also covers display as I previously explained.

The Download Page

Circular Icons Don't Distribute

We have some funny wording about free to use but don’t distribute.

That isn’t GPL
That also isn’t compatible with the Creative Commons license.

The Site License For All Products

The icons are a free product listed on the products page

Pro Theme GPL

So all the Pro Theme Products are GPL… 100% GPL or they wouldn’t be listed on the WordPress commercial themes page.

As far as I am aware none of the icons are used in the themes, and even if they were it is quite possible the authors (Darren Hoyt & Ben Gillbanks) have licensed those particular icons differently, as is their right.
Thus this isn’t in any way suggesting some confusion in the licensing of the themes.

Downloaded Archive

There was no license in the downloaded file – oops.

I’m Confused

I can’t even differentate between which license is most restrictive… Creative Commons & GPL are both free and restrictive, but in different ways, and neither would prevent me distributing the icons.

Please Designers – Make Up Your Mind!

Clarity in licensing is important – wimpy statements on use just don’t work for open source projects as shown by Drupal, and confusing licensing on a site needs to be fixed.

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  1. says

    Hi Andy – thanks for explaining your concerns – it’s a shame you didn’t email me to ask what was happening, I’d have liked to have clarified the Pro Theme Design icon concerns :)

    The circular icons have gone through a few different licenses, and it seems that the info has not been updated correctly on all of the pages.

    The themes on our site are all GPL. That one’s easy.

    The icons were originally Creative Commons but switched to the made up license ‘free but don’t distribute’. I get frustrated by licenses, I’m not a lawyer and I don’t like having to decipher them – this seemed like an easy out. However it seems I didn’t update the products page to match (I have now).

    Would be interested to know what you think?

    • says

      Hi Ben

      The problem was a decision was being made, and effectively had been made on that Drupal discussion list to use the newly GPL icons.

      As your circular icons had been mentioned there as potentially being GPL due to the general license, it was something which needed to be cleared up.

      I was dragged into the conversation, or made aware of it due to a small blip in my stats that I was curious about, and as I was doing the research to ensure what I wrote was correct, the natural thing to do was to at least turn it into a blog post.

      As far as I am concerned for design, Creative Commons isn’t “free” as it prevents icons being used in many open source projects if there is a desire to host on the parent project site.. and more complicated license terms for distribution, and for clients to use.

      I made sure I didn’t implicate your themes within this, I spent some time checking the demo of each for signs of using your round icons – I don’t know the source of the square ones you seem to most frequently use as I didn’t compare with other sets.

      Free but don’t distribute seems to me the worst license you could use – no credit in any way from people who use them, no widespread use from open source projects. You might also get less links though from what I have seen, many of the people in the design community or more specifically the bloggers make so many mistake on licensing that I would never trust anything they write.

      Personally I think you would do better making the icons GPL and ensuring within your affiliate program you have a way for someone to link to your icons with an affiliate link so all the theme designers who do end up using them coould use that as an additional revenue stream.

      • says

        Hey Andy – thanks for the feedback. It’s definitely something to think about. I may just go with GPL as having everything under the same license does make it clearer what is what, if nothing else.


  2. says

    Nice set of icons, will download. I am now working on a site that will have 1500 J1.5 templates, yes a lot of sites already have it but mine will have live previews of ALL templates. Should be ready in a couple of weeks, check with me if interested.