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Re: GNOME Font Copyright

Don Armstrong wrote:
> As far as I can tell, the vera fonts are not available from gnome's
> ftp site yet. [Feel free to provide linkage to demonstrate otherwise.]

See http://www.gnome.org/fonts/ for the link to the following file.

$ wget --spider --server-response http://ftp.gnome.org/pub/GNOME/sources/bitstream-vera/1.0/bitstream-vera-1.0.tar.gz
--04:23:25-- http://ftp.gnome.org/pub/GNOME/sources/bitstream-vera/1.0/bitstream-vera-1.0.tar.gz
           => bitstream-vera-1.0.tar.gz'
Resolving ftp.gnome.org... done.
Connecting to ftp.gnome.org[]:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response...
 1 HTTP/1.1 200 OK
 2 Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2003 09:55:53 GMT
 3 Server: Apache/2.0.44 (Unix)
 4 Last-Modified: Fri, 21 Feb 2003 20:11:40 GMT
 5 ETag: "4325f-40c84-dc74f700"
 6 Accept-Ranges: bytes
 7 Content-Length: 265348
 8 Keep-Alive: timeout=15, max=100
 9 Connection: Keep-Alive
10 Content-Type: application/x-tar
11 Content-Encoding: x-gzip
200 OK

I asked:
> If so, where did you get this information?

Don Armstrong responded:
> The press release [...] is fairly clear that Bitstream is planning on
> releasing the fonts under a license that will fulfill DFSG #1:

I understand that to be true, but you have misinterpreted my question.  I
asked if my understanding of the exchange was correct--GNOME distributes
Bitstream's non-free Vera fonts and in exchange Bitstream eventually
supplies DFSG-free software.

I'm trying to learn precisely why GNOME chose to distribute non-free
software.  GNOME is an official part of GNU, according to the front page of
their website.  The GNU project is widely known for discouraging people from
getting involved with non-free software. Therefore GNOME's distribution of
non-free software is rather confusing.

> Could you please be a bit more specific as to why you see the draft
> license encumbering your freedom to do with the fonts as you wish?

I don't care all that much what the draft license says until some software
is released under it.  In another post to debian-legal I encouraged Debian
to basically ignore the draft license until some software is released under

So let's fast-forward to the day when the Vera font family is distributed
under that license.  I think the can't-distribute-fonts-alone-for-a-fee
clause is counterproductive because

  1. that clause won't achieve the end Bitstream claims it was put in there
     to achieve[1].  That clause is so easy to evade it won't stop most
     competitors from putting these fonts into their font sale systems.

  2. that clause might be the only clause keeping Bitstream's license from
     being a Free Software license.  It would be a shame to throw away so
     much for no real gain.

On a personal level, that clause's uniqueness looks like a potential pain in
the ass to comply with because I find it handy to distribute individual
programs for a fee.  I'll have to either not distribute these fonts for a
fee or remember that there's a peculiarity in the license that prevents me
from treating these fonts like I treat every other program I distribute for
a fee.

> I'm not sure I follow your argument about the software (well, fonts in
> this case) being DFSG "free" but not being Free Software.

"Free Software" is the term I understand to refer to the GNU project's term.

"DFSG-free" is a different term I understand to refer to the Debian Free
Software Guidelines.

"The Open Source Definition" is different from both of them, a term I
understand to refer to what licenses stand a chance of being approved as an
"Open Source" license by OSI.

I try to distinguish among these terms because they define different things
and they serve different purposes.  The first and the last of them even go
with different movements.

As I understand things, Bitstream's fonts are intended to someday become
acceptable to the Open Source movement and Debian.  The
can't-distribute-fonts-alone-for-a-fee clause appears to have been written
such that it will still be agreeable to both OSI and Debian.  Whether that
clause keeps these fonts from being Free Software, I remain interested to

[1] http://www.gnome.org/fonts/ in the "Final Copyright FAQ".

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