BDSM Emblem

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The BDSM Emblem is a design intended to symbolise BDSM and be used by the community to identify itself.

The BDSM Logo



The "BDSM Emblem" was based on an interpretation of the Roissy triskelion ring described in the "Story of O", and is one of several designs based on interpretations of the triskelion ring.

The Emblem was created after discussions on an AOL message board where Quagmyr proposed a design for a BDSM Emblem in 1995, incorporating one particular form of a Triskelion (a symbol with threefold rotational symmetry) similar to a three-fold Yin Yang symbol. (Later he decided the Roissy design of the book would have had spirals rather than "teardrops".)

Quagmyr's definition includes:

  1. The rim and three curved "spokes" of the design are meant to be presented in some metallic colour
  2. The three inner fields are black
  3. The three "dots" are not dots but holes.
  4. The arms curve clockwise.


Quagmyr claims copyright but allows other people to use his specific emblem for non-profit cultural, educational and artistic use within the BDSM community. However, he requires written permission for any commercial use of the Emblem (including fund raising by non-profit BDSM organisations) and has been active in claiming profit from website owners and merchandisers, even though the copyright is arguable.

The triskelion is an ancient symbol used by many cultures and since the design is based on, and very similar to, other designs with thousands of years of history, Quagmyr has to be quite strict in his definition of what is and is not the BDSM Emblem. Only his very specific design can have any valid copyright claim on his part.

Depending on the country, Quagmyr may have copyright of the image file displayed on this page, but if someone were to recreate the image and republish it then he might have no claim to that image. Under UK and German law, the legal status of his claim to copyright of the design is questionable. Under USA law, it is possible that the design has not changed enough from ancient triskeles to be considered a derivative work.

Quagmyr has also stated that his original design was 3-dimensional and intended only for his own jewellery.


Anything outside Quagmyr's strict definition, or in some way distinct from it, would be free of copyright and many variants of the ancient triskelion have been used on BDSM websites and other media. Because of this, no single colour scheme is used universally. Quagmyr's site includes a helpful page showing other triskelion designs, and explaining how they differ from the design he claims rights over. Nevertheless, just about any triskelion design could be recognisable as indicating BDSM, but one needs to be careful of context, as similar designs are used by nations, corporations and unrelated associations (Isle of Man, Sicily, Celtic revivalists, etc.).

Many individuals have selected similar-looking designs for their own use on websites, books, jewellery, tattoos etc. Two major uses of variants of the BDSM Emblem are the Leather Pride Flag and the BDSM Rights Flag (which is free of copying restrictions). Both of these tend to be reproduced in their exact colours and layouts.

Quagmyr sells merchandise featuring the basic Emblem design. Since most of this merchandise is only based on his BDSM Emblem but does not conform to it, it probably is only copyrighted is so far as the jewellery is his unique work but the symbol used on it may fall into the category of symbols which may be recognised as symbolising BDSM without actually being the BDSM Emblem.

See also

External links

Quagmyr's site asks that we reproduce this copyright statement: The BDSM Emblem is copyright 1995 by who maintains the copyright in order to protect the symbol. It is freely available for all educational and non-commercial use within the BDSM community without charge.

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