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Re: [Pkg-fonts-devel] About the licensing of URW Garamond No. 8

On Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 07:20:30PM -0700, Walter Landry wrote:
> Nicolas Spalinger <nicolas_spalinger@sil.org> wrote:
> > Hi Walter,
> > 
> > There are obviously varying needs and preferences (prejudices?) along
> > the licensing spectrum but IMHO your reply is very reductive.
> > 
> > At the end of the day upstreams make up their own mind about how they
> > license their own creation but allow me to explain the reasoning of the
> > OFL model a bit more:
> I understand that many font designers want to put in annoying license
> terms.  I really do understand that.  In fact, there are many regular
> software developers who want to put in annoying license terms for
> their programs.  Debian does not encourage these annoying terms for
> programs, and Debian should not encourage annoying terms for fonts
> either.

Fonts are art, many font designer are very concerned about the
authenticity of their designs and wouldn't allow modified version to
carry the names of their fonts, it is very valid concern.

Moreover, GPL was designed for software, not for mostly artistic
material like fonts.

> <snip>
> > For the GPL imcompatibility, fonts are much more useful aggregated to
> > rather than "merged" with existing software, possible incompatibility
> > with existing software licenses is not a problem. See
> > http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#Fonts
> I was using the rendered fonts as art.  In the US, rendered fonts are
> not copyrightable (as far as I understand).  Elsewhere, the situation
> is unclear.

Although I myself don't like OFL for several reasons, there is
increasing number of high quality fonts released under it, even many
free fonts that were released under costume license are now OFL'd (AMS
relicensed all their fonts under OFL last year, for example). So if
compatibility of other free fonts is a concern, I'd rather pick OFL.

As for design copyright, fonts are patentable in USA, and protected by
special artwork copyrights in UK and Germany.
> > You say you needed a "GPL-compatible font" but what does that mean? I
> > assume you needed a font to bundle with when distributing a piece of
> > software under GPL, right? OFL-ed fonts explicitely allow anyone to
> > bundle. (even with restricted software).  OTOH you probably want to
> > recommend an external open font instead by adding a package dependency.
> You have it backwards.  It is the GPL which does not allow
> incorporating OFL-ed fonts.
> > BTW one of the goals we have in the Debian fonts team is to work to
> > reduce the big duplication of fonts in various packages in our archive:
> > there is no absolute need for every single piece of software to ship
> > with its very own set of fonts... Sometimes it does but from a Debian
> > perspective IMHO a dependency is much nicer. There is a lintian check
> > for this too.
> > 
> > I do agree that GPL-compatibility is great and very desirable but fonts
> > have a different set of requirements corresponding to their special
> > status and usage scenarios.
> Somehow, everyone thinks that they are special and therefore they
> deserve annoying license terms.  We had this debate on debian-legal
> before with the LPPL.  I am sure we will have it again.  I still have
> zero sympathy for this view.

Certainly, there are special cases that GPL can't cover, no matter how I
like GPL, it isn't the cure of every issue.

> > and of course the trouble with defining what font sources are and
> > how to properly satisfy the GPL requirement in this context.
> There has been ample discussion on this topic on debian-legal for
> years.  This is not actually difficult to figure out.  For some
> reason, people think it is, but it is not.
> If you do not want a source requirement in the license, then you do
> not really want a copyleft license.  Otherwise, the copyleft becomes
> almost, but not entirely, useless.

The issue is, what to be consider as source for fonts? One working with
FontLab would consider the FontLab file as source, but it is a
proprietary binary format of no use without FontLab, actually the
generated fonts is much more usable as source than it.

That is again because we are using GPL in an area it wasn't designed

> > Also v2 and v3 react differently. The patent clauses could be
> > misunderstood and scare away font designers when they mistake it
> > with "design patents"...
> Again, an education issue.
> > The font exception was written way back with not a huge of amount of
> > discussion with font designers and the FSF is still looking for
> > feedback. IHMO using the exception is really an exception considering
> > the increasing body of libre/open fonts we now enjoy.
> I am still having a hard time finding a GPL-compatible monospaced
> font...

IBM's courier were donated to X long ago under MIT license,


 Khaled Hosny
 Arabic localiser and member of Arabeyes.org team
 Free font developer

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