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bug#32916: font-awesome v5 build scripts are not free

From: Mark H Weaver
Subject: bug#32916: font-awesome v5 build scripts are not free
Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2018 15:33:12 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.1 (gnu/linux)

Hi Leo,

Leo Famulari <address@hidden> writes:

> We have a package of font-awesome, currently at version 4.7.0.
> It's a very simple package, installing the files generated by upstream
> rather than trying to rebuild them.
> As of version 5, the tools used to build the generated files are not
> free:
> https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=902981
> https://github.com/FortAwesome/Font-Awesome/issues/13467
> Is this a problem for us under the FSDG? Quoting the FSDG [0]:
> ------
> “Information for practical use” includes software, documentation, fonts,
> and other data that has direct functional applications. It does not
> include artistic works that have an aesthetic (rather than functional)
> purpose, or statements of opinion or judgment.
> All information for practical use in a free distribution must be
> available in source form. (“Source” means the form of the information
> that is preferred for making changes to it.)
> ------
> Since we don't have the form of the fonts that is preferred for making
> changes to them, my interpretation is that we can't include font-awesome
> version 5.
> What do you think?
> [0]
> https://www.gnu.org/distros/free-system-distribution-guidelines.en.html

I agree that version 5 of font-awesome does not meet the requirements of
the FSDG, which states:

  A free system distribution should be self-hosting.  This means that
  you must be able to develop and build the system with tools that the
  system provides you.  As a result, a free system distribution cannot
  include free software that can only be built by using nonfree

Moreover, it is doubtful that it could even be considered free software,
since it is not clear how users can effectively modify the font without
access to its build system, which is both proprietary and secret.

FWIW, the GNU GPL v3 definition of "corresponding source" includes the
build system:

  The “Corresponding Source” for a work in object code form means all
  the source code needed to generate, install, and (for an executable
  work) run the object code and to modify the work, including scripts to
  control those activities.

Therefore, I think we should keep 'font-awesome' frozen at version 4.7,
with a comment explaining the situation, to prevent others from
accidentally upgrading it.

What do you think?


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