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

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.

IMHO you are misunderstanding what I was trying to say: this was more of
a general comment to describe our own views not just that of some
particular upstreams:  there is a spectrum of community-validated
licenses (I mean DFSG/FSF/OSD  compliant ones) and people have different
preferences for various parts of the spectrum and it's fine. One license
does not fit every single need or approach otherwise we'd all be using
the same which is obviously not the case. How people interact with
upstream and make relicensing recommendations reflects that is all I'm

The years of OFL research and community review have given birth to a
nexus between the needs of two very different communities: type
designers and the FLOSS communities. We have also pushed back on various
unreasonable expectations from font designers to find an acceptable
middle ground which the FSF, the Debian ftp-masters and OSI have
validated. Having a common community-reviewed-and-validated license
designed especially for fonts and to which the actual font design
community has given input and now recognizes greatly helps in reducing
licensing proliferation. Personally I am also very much in favour of
Debian and other major community projects pushing back on software
developers who put unreasonable requests on their licensing terms to the
detriment of users.

Believe it or not but some designers actually want to do the right thing
by contributing and benefiting from a libre software approach, there's
just such a huge cultural gap to cross and a maze of crazy licenses full
of programmer jargon that they very rarely get anywhere. A font-specific
license helps tremendously. Compare the variety and quality of
libre/open fonts now available to what we had a few years ago...

> <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.

So how does the rendered art stand wrt. the GPL requirements? It is
output or aggregation? The GPL GNU Bison exception discussion all over

As Khaled has rightly pointed out, the situation is not as unclear as
you paint it to be. Especially for jurisdictions where fonts are clearly
recognized as software and copyright or case laws have explicit mentions
of their special status.

>> 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.

Not sure I see what you mean here.
What about aggregation?

>> 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.

Yes, we love a good debate don't we :-)
The fact is that font software and font software producers don't behave
in the same way than a program written in C by usual programmers.

>> BTW when looking for fonts for your own use you may find the review that
>> we run weekly on the Debian fonts team useful:
>> http://pkg-fonts.alioth.debian.org/review/
> Interesting.  Thank you.

You're most welcome :-)
Hope you'll find what you're looking for. On the team page there are
links to resources from others tackling this domain in the wider FLOSS

>>> Also, I found this page
>>>   http://openfontlibrary.org/wiki/Font_Licensing
>>> which mentions
>>>   Despite the problems, the base 35 PostScript fonts donated by URW++
>>>   to (originally) the Ghostscript project are licensed under the GPL,
>>>   with an exception similar to the font above.
>>> But then I found this page
>>>   http://www.advogato.org/person/raph/diary/257.html
>>> which says
>>>   By the way, URW did not donate these fonts under the GPL out of
>>>   their own hearts. Artifex paid good money for them, and donated them
>>>   out of a mix of self-interest and altruism.
>>> So is may be easy to change the license to GPL, but you may want to
>>> talk to Artifex, not URW++.
>> TTBOMK previous attempts have not been successful, anybody is welcome to
>> try again.
>> Also IIRC GUST had derived a branch under LPPL. You may want to search
>> for that. I don't recall the exact details.
>> I'll simply point out that Raph Levien (whose diary you link to) has
>> chosen to release some of his own fonts under the OFL finding that the
>> model makes sense.
>> BTW have you read through the thread in -devel that he linked to?
> I just did.  I am not sure what point you are trying to make, though.
> Ian Zimmerman asked the same question I did:
>   Ben> "How am I going to deal with it when someone changes my font to
>   Ben> something ugly and it reflects poorly on my skills as a
>   Ben> fontographer?"
>   How is this at all different from the same question asked about
>   program source code?
>   In that context, it is part of the rationale for the Q license,
>   AFAIK.  (Redistribution only as original source + patches).
> (http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2002/08/msg00881.html)
> I have not seen anyone in Debian suggest the Q license for the longest
> time.  It would really suck if everyone used the Q license.

The rest of the thread points to the problems of depending on restricted
fonts (and fixing bugs in that area) and the difficulty of getting
upstreams to agree on a license that would make sense to them...

As any font designer about this and you will not get an answer
reflecting the views of a programmer...


> Cheers,
> Walter Landry
> wlandry@caltech.edu


Nicolas Spalinger, NRSI volunteer
Debian/Ubuntu font teams / OpenFontLibrary

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