The colours of the Emacs modus-themes are in the public domain

On the mailing list of the modus-themes, user “takeda” inquired whether they could use colours from my themes to style their website. There was uncertainty about the matter, as the themes are distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 3 (or later) and takeda has a website whose source code is closed: it would constitute a violation of the GPL to re-use copylefted code in a non-copyleft code base, or so the thinking was.

After consulting with the folks on the emacs-devel mailing list, I am putting the colour palette of the modus-themes—just the ~400 colours, not the entire source code—in the public domain (technically, the Creative Commons Zero license (CC0)). Thanks to everyone involved!

The reason I asked about this on emacs-devel is because the modus-themes (modus-operandi and modus-vivendi) are built into Emacs (since August 2020) and I did not want to jeopardise Emacs or anyhow put the maintainers in a difficult spot.

To copy the colours freely, visit: You do not have to provide attribution for the colour palette, but doing so, such as by linking to that page, can help others discover the original material.

That granted, I must stress that the Modus themes are not colour schemes and cannot be thus reduced. They are fully fledged applications: colours in certain combinations which are applied to particular contexts using specific methods. In simple terms, I pick colours that work well for the purposes of the design and concomitant accessibility standards, but I do not, say, choose a shade of yellow that has the prettiest contrast next to a shade of blue—what a colour scheme does. If I were to design a colour scheme, I would make different decisions.

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