On Sat, Aug 17, 2002 at 05:29:44PM +0200, Juliusz Chroboczek wrote: > Branden's letter was fairly long, and Charles did reply, but only to > say that he'll read it in full when he has some free time. As usually > happens in such situations, the free time never materialised. So that other folks can read it, here it is, MIME-attached. -- G. Branden Robinson | Measure with micrometer, Debian GNU/Linux | mark with chalk, firstname.lastname@example.org | cut with axe, http://people.debian.org/~branden/ | hope like hell.
From email@example.com Thu Nov 1 09:33:28 2001 Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2001 09:33:28 -0500 From: Branden Robinson <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Cc: Juliusz Chroboczek <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Luxi font licensing Message-ID: <20011101093328.C25488@deadbeast.net> References: <email@example.com> <20011005190004.H7421@deadbeast.net> <firstname.lastname@example.org> Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/signed; micalg=pgp-sha1; protocol="application/pgp-signature"; boundary="llIrKcgUOe3dCx0c" Content-Disposition: inline In-Reply-To: <email@example.com> User-Agent: Mutt/1.3.23i Status: RO Content-Length: 6892 Lines: 148 --llIrKcgUOe3dCx0c Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1 Content-Disposition: inline Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Mr. Bigelow, Hello, my name is Branden Robinson and I package XFree86 for the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. At Juliusz Chroboczek's urging I am writing you to share with you my thoughts on the licensing of the Luxi (n=E9e Lucidux) fonts that are distributed with XFree86, which Debian has had to remove from our packaging of XFree86 because they -- just barely -- fail to meet our guidelines for "Free Software" (which, incidentally, form the basis of and are practically identical to the "Open Source Definition" as promulgated by the Open Source Initiative, of which you may have heard), and we are committed to distributing only Free Software as part of Debian proper. I understand that you may be apprehensive about hearing from some proselytizing zealot, so let me pre-emptively clear the air by saying that I respect the right of B&H to license the fruits of their labor under whatever terms they wish. I am personally content to live and let live as far as the Luxi fonts go, since B&H has business demands to meet, and Debian, while not a traditional organization, nevertheless has its own firm principles under which it must operate. However, since Juliusz has asked me to write you, I thought I would attempt to explore options that may work to our mutual benefit. The only part of the Lucidux/Luxi font license that poses a problem for Debian is the following: > The Font Software may not be modified, altered, or added to, and in > particular the designs of glyphs or characters in the Fonts may not be > modified nor may additional glyphs or characters be added to the > Fonts, except that composite characters composed of two or more > characters in the Fonts may be created using the seac (Standard > Encoding Accented Character) Type 1 operator. Specifically, this clause cannot be reconciled with point 3 of the Debian Free Software Guidelines, which says: > Derived Works > > The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow > them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the > original software. Now, while striking the paragraph at issue from the Lucidux/Luxi font license would be conceptually the simplest approach, I doubt that solution would be acceptable to B&H, else your company wouldn't have gone to the trouble of writing it in the first place. What may be less obvious is that there are other ways, I think, to achieve the end B&H has in mind with this clause, and still satisfy DFSG 3, such that everybody wins. Specifically: As I understand it, B&H has applied for and received trademark protection for the word "Luxi" as applied to digital fonts. (I have been told this; I have not tried to verify it myself with the USPTO.) This provides an avenue for protection of the integrity of the digital font(s) as B&H knows it, while still granting freedom to others to modify the font. For example, you could require that and such modified font be required to change its name to something other than "Luxi", or, alternatively, to append a word to the name of the font so as to reflect both its origin, and its modified status, e.g., "Luxi Modified", "Luxi Unofficial", or "Luxi Impure". Since B&H has trademark protection in the term "Luxi", it has wide latitude to enforce this requirement. In actual fact, not only do I suspect that the overwhelming majority of the Free Software community will have no trouble respecting this request (for instance, take the example of the Artistic License, used by Larry Wall's Perl language -- the Artistic License requires that "forks" of the software be renamed), I also think it is unlikely that anyone in the Free Software community will bother to distribute a modified version of the Luxi font, and almost certainly not one that would meet with B&H's disapproval. (Most Free Software font geeks I know of are primarily concerned with increasing the glyph count, so the composite character exception already granted in the license may be the only de facto modification you are likely to see.) Again, see the example of the Perl programming language; being itself written in a conventional programming language, with which many more Free Software enthusiasts are familiar than the nuances of digital typography, it nevertheless is practically universally accepted in the form it is distributed by its author. I, at least, have never heard of a "forked" version of Perl. You may wonder why the Free Software community, and Debian in particular, insists upon recognition of a liberty that may in fact never be exercised with respect to a given piece of software. I liken it to an insurance policy; the users of Free Software want to have the freedom to deviate from a bit of software orthodoxy, if the institution behind it does something abhorrent. In practice I think most users simply want nice fonts that don't hurt their eyes. The likelihood of somebody "forking" the Luxi font, and enjoying significant adoption of their modified version is, in my assessment, about as likely as B&H electing to make all the glyphs in Luxi undifferentiated boxes. (And in the event some enthusiastic individual does come up with a super-enhanced version of the Luxi font that wows and amazes people, and starts to displace Luxi in the marketplace, you may end up wanting to incorporate his changes -- since the source form of Luxi is the same as the distributed form, this is quite straightforward -- and/or giving him a job instead of trying to suppress the modified version.) Thanks very much for your attention (and patience); I apologize for the length of this mail. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the event you have any questions or require any clarifications about the Debian Project, the Debian Free Software Guidelines, or any other subject I am competent to address. Links: The Debian Project http://www.debian.org/ The Debian Social Contract and Free Software Guidelines http://www.debian.org/social_contract Background on Debian http://www.debian.org/intro/about Debian is 2nd Most Popular Linux Distribution according to Linux Journal http://www2.linuxjournal.com/lj-issues/issue91/5441.html --=20 G. Branden Robinson | Measure with micrometer, Debian GNU/Linux | mark with chalk, firstname.lastname@example.org | cut with axe, http://people.debian.org/~branden/ | hope like hell. --llIrKcgUOe3dCx0c Content-Type: application/pgp-signature Content-Disposition: inline -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- Version: GnuPG v1.0.6 (GNU/Linux) Comment: For info see http://www.gnupg.org iEYEARECAAYFAjvhXTgACgkQ6kxmHytGonyG4QCfWC4w4KiyZ25nI0EDx95QMsco 5vkAmwauHRY5WKJoP8775DtTwN1ZyvzE =+y1q -----END PGP SIGNATURE----- --llIrKcgUOe3dCx0c--
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