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Re: [Pkg-fonts-devel] Open Font License 1.1 Released

On Wed, 28 Feb 2007 12:02:36 +0100 Nicolas Spalinger wrote:

> A branch is something
> different by definition and it should identify itself as such and not
> masquerade itself as something else to the user. The font name
> protection is a key feature of the OFL to guaranty artistic integrity
> to a font designer and actually make him consider releasing his work
> under a free license.

Please note that, if you introduce restrictions big enough to please
potential adopters, you are defeating your own purpose, because works
under the adopted license are not free anymore...
As a consequence, the noble goal of persuading people to release their
works under a free license cannot justify the introduction of any kind
of restrictions into the license.

This is a general comment: I'm going to analyze the license in detail

> Various other project-specific font licenses have a similar mechanism
> and are currently well-accepted in Debian. I'm sure you will agree
> that we don't want a new license for every font in the archive and
> that a common community-validated font-specific license that is
> readable and easy to use is much better.

While we are at fighting license proliferation, I would really like to
*not* have font-specific licenses at all...  Especially GPL-incompatible
ones...  :-(
Anyway, let's go on and analyze the OFL v1.1

> (If "compatibility and
> configuration" means breaking the user's documents and ignoring the
> requirements for artistic integrity the vast majority of designers
> have, then this is not exactly what I'd call maintainership and good
> relationships with upstream)

It could even mean *fixing* the user's documents.
After all, every time a Debian package is modified, the user's system is
at stance: it could be broken by the upgrade, but it could be fixed or
enhanced instead!

At the end of the day, this is how Free Software operates: give everyone
the freedom to (use, study, copy, redistribute, and) modify things as
he/she sees fit.
Breaking systems is never forbidden, because otherwise systems could not
even be fixed or enhanced (you cannot legally define "breaking",
"fixing", and "enhancing", as they mostly depend on the point of view!).


OK, license comments follow.

> -----------------------------------------------------------
> SIL OPEN FONT LICENSE Version 1.1 - 26 February 2007
> -----------------------------------------------------------
> 1) Neither the Font Software nor any of its individual components,
> in Original or Modified Versions, may be sold by itself.

As I already pointed out back in December[1], when discussing OFL
v1.1review2 on debian-legal, this restriction does *not* fail the DFSG
(because DFSG#1 only requires that software can be sold as a part of an
aggregate, which is allowed by clause 2 below...), but is moot, as it
can be circumvented by simply bundling the Font Software with a stupid
2-byte script...

I again suggest to drop such a useless restriction.

[1] see http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2006/12/msg00061.html and
    the thread that followed

> 2) Original or Modified Versions of the Font Software may be bundled,
> redistributed and/or sold with any software, provided that each copy
> contains the above copyright notice and this license. [...]
> 3) No Modified Version of the Font Software may use the Reserved Font
> Name(s) unless explicit written permission is granted by the
> corresponding Copyright Holder. This restriction only applies to the
> primary font name as presented to the users.

Back in December, my conclusion on this clause (which is unchanged with
respect to OFL v1.1review2) was that this restriction complies with the
DFSG, *if* the
Reserved Font Names (for the work under consideration) are only names
used in previous versions of the work.

This is so, because DFSG#4 states, in part:

| The license may require derived works to carry a different name or
| version number from the original software.

and hence the only names that can be forbidden for derivative works,
while complying with the DFSG, are the names of ancestor versions of the

Having this clause in the license, without another clause stating that
*only* names of previous versions of the work are eligible for
specification as Reserved Font Name, is suboptimal, because it makes the
OFL a check-case-by-case license: works released under the terms of the
OFL v1.1 comply with DFSG, *only* if an additional condition is

> 5) The Font Software, modified or unmodified, in part or in whole,
> must be distributed entirely under this license, and must not be
> distributed under any other license.

As already pointed out back in December, this can become extremely
tricky if one wants to dual-license a work (especially if a similar
only-me clause is found in the other license!).
How can a redistributor comply with both licenses, while distributing
the dual-licensed work? 


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..................................................... Francesco Poli .
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