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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 20:28:21 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.1 (gnu/linux)

Hi Ludovic,

address@hidden (Ludovic Courtès) writes:

> Mark H Weaver <address@hidden> skribis:
>> 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
>>   software.
>> 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.
> I don’t have a clear opinion on ‘font-awesome’ yet, but I have some
> comments: (1) only some of our font packages are built from source
> (though I think we should do more of that), (2) the font might be
> considered “non-functional data” rather than software under the FSDG,

The GNU FSDG states:

   License Rules

   “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.)

I think it's reasonably clear that the first paragraph above refers to
the distinction between functional and non-functional data, and it
specifically lists "fonts" as an example of the first category.  It also
associates the terms "functional" and "for practical use" with "fonts".

The section on "Non-functional Data" begins with:

  Data that isn't functional, that doesn't do a practical job, is more
  of an adornment to the system's software than a part of it.  [...]

Note the two terms "functional", and "does a practical job" which
essentially means the same thing as "for practical use".  These two
terms are specifically associated with "fonts" above, and are
contraindicators for "Non-functional Data".

This seems reasonably clear to me.  What do you think?


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