When opening the flag dialog, a spiffy loader icon is shown:


I have an application on a site of mine for which this would work well.

Is the loader icon public domain, or copyrighted by Stack Exchange?

  • 8
    Not a lawyer, but the only thing you can copyright is the content the loader would show. In this case it is 3 dots. So, from a legal standpoint I find it hard to argue it would cause damages if you used it. That being said, why does everything seen have to be copied? It is just a loading image, can't you find one from the dozens of free hosting sites out there? Or come up with something, you know, unique?
    – Travis J
    Dec 23, 2014 at 21:17
  • @TravisJ I've used ajaxload.info among other generators. I like this icon because it is minimalistic.
    – Mooseman
    Dec 23, 2014 at 21:28
  • Bottom of all pages: "site design / logo © 2014 stack exchange inc" Dec 23, 2014 at 21:38
  • 9
    It looks like you have an image or some other fancy content in your question....I'm waiting for it to show up, and it's not coming. < refreshrefreshrefresh >
    – MTL
    Dec 23, 2014 at 21:39
  • @Shokhet I linked the image to the image.
    – Mooseman
    Dec 23, 2014 at 21:39
  • @Moosemaniseatingpizza :)
    – MTL
    Dec 23, 2014 at 21:42
  • @Mooseman That image isn't loading either. Dec 23, 2014 at 21:50
  • 6
    I hand-drew that very gif frame-by-frame, so it's probably under some sort of protection, technically. I doubt that anyone at the company would mind you using it, but that doubt isn't a license of course. I'll try pinging someone with <s>pointy hair</s> authority to make that official.
    – balpha StaffMod
    Dec 24, 2014 at 21:45
  • @balpha Cool, and thank you. Please post an answer when you can. :)
    – Mooseman
    Dec 25, 2014 at 0:25

3 Answers 3


As the person who created that animation on October 20, 2010, and with the permission of Stack Exchange Inc., my employer at the time (albeit under a different name) and now, I hereby make this animated gif:

        progress dots

currently available at https://stackoverflow.com/content/img/progress-dots.gif available under CC0 1.0 Universal.

In short, do what you want with it. Happy Holidays, have a few blinking dots :)

  • 1
    Nice animation... Dec 25, 2014 at 7:23
  • 2
    Oh wow, I could not have asked for a better gift from Santa! Dec 25, 2014 at 8:05
  • You can make it public domain? If Stack Exchange (your employer) asked you to make it, can't they technically disallow this?
    – Saturn
    Mar 12, 2015 at 23:23
  • 1
    @Omega Sure they can. (I guess. I have no idea if that gif even meets the threshold for copyright eligibility.) That's why I said, with the permission of Stack Exchange Inc.
    – balpha StaffMod
    Mar 13, 2015 at 6:18

I found a similar image on wikimedia commons

enter image description here

In addition, wikimedia commons also has the following text in their Template:PD-Simple page:

This image only consists of typefaces, individual words, slogans, or simple geometric shapes. These are not eligible for copyright alone because they are not original enough, and thus the image is considered to be in the public domain.

Emphasis mine.

Going by that logic, I would say that the loading gif is too simple and too easy to reproduce to be copyrighted.

Wikimedia also considers Verizon's logo to be public domain because is

...only consists of simple geometric shapes and/or text. It does not meet the threshold of originality needed for copyright protection, and is therefore in the public domain.

However, I'M NOT A LAWYER, so this is only my uneducated guess.


I'll agree with most of the other posters here. Given that the icon is made of simple shapes and shades, it's much too simple to be copyrighted and therefore is in the public domain. This means you can reasonably use it without much legal trouble.

However, at the bottom of every SE page, there's a note:

site design / logo © 2014 stack exchange inc

Now while this may not include this icon, it also might do. So if you want to be absolutely safe, you need either legal advice or communication with the SE team. This can be done from the contact page.

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