Re: DFSG and fonts [was: Bug#91856: Hello]
Me (Juliusz Chroboczek):
JC> I think we need the DFSG to explicitly provide an exception for
JC> fonts and artwork.
BR> I disagree. To do so would introduce far too much gray area, in my
BR> opinion, and get Debian involved in even more licensing flamewars than we
BR> currently have.
BR> Without getting too much into whys and wherefores, I'll note that
BR> many of the arguments people use for a more lax interpretation of
BR> "freeness" on things like fonts, music, and artwork are the same
BR> ones that Daniel J. Bernstein uses to justify the non-free
BR> license on most (all?) of the software he writes.
As you can imagine, the inclusion of the Lucidux fonts into the
XFree86 source tree didn't go without a fair amount of hesitation.
We negociated the license with Charles Bigelow for a good six months
(discussion was significantly hindered by the excruciatingly slow
speed of the Earth's rotation -- Chuck is in California, I'm in
Europe). At first, Chuck was thinking of allowing us to redistribute
his fonts only if nobody was making a profit, clearly something we
We finally came to the conclusion that there is only one issue that
was not negociable for Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes -- the issue of
artistic integrity of the fonts. We did, of course, try to argue that
people typically do not make gratuitious modifications to Free
software, and that the Free software community has, with a few
exceptions, been pretty good at filtering out broken versions of
software. Chuck was not willing to risk it.
We concluded that the main reason why we insist on the right to modify
software is the need to maintain it. After carefully checking the
technical, as opposed to artistic, quality of the Lucidux fonts (it is
excellent, thanks to Y&Y), we agreed that there is no reason
whatsoever why we should need to modify them in the foreseeable
future, and decided to include these fonts in our tree.
I believe that Chuck's attitude in the matter is typical of that of
most font designers. Thus, I am firmly convinced that as Free
Software becomes better known in the font design community, we will
receive donations of more high-quality fonts, and that these are
likely to come under terms similar to those of the B&H Lucidux
licence. Thus, I would be very keen on seeing a carefully-written
exception for fonts included in the DFSG.
As you can see, the arguments above are of a purely pragmatic and
technical nature (as typical of XFree86). I am not sufficiently
familiar with the Debian project to understand whether you wish to be
guided by considerations of this sort, or whether ideological
considerations are more important.
BR> Juliusz, I hope we can agree to disagree on this issue.
We've been doing so for almost two years now, and thankfully both of
us have managed to keep it on polite terms. It goes without saying
that I defer to your opinion in all matters related to Debian
packaging of X, even where I disagree with your opinions.