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[Freefont-bugs] Fwd: License question

From: Steve White
Subject: [Freefont-bugs] Fwd: License question
Date: Fri, 7 Oct 2011 03:21:00 +0200

Hi Jason,

On Fri, Oct 7, 2011 at 12:46 AM, Jason Woolman <address@hidden> wrote:
> Steve,
> Many thanks for the response. Our issue at the moment is around how the font 
> renders characters with combining diacritics. Attached is a document with 
> images of our writing system which is based on the International Phonetic 
> Alphabet and require the IPA extensions. The combining diacritics, the 
> apostrophe, hacek, superscript theta, are either off centre or blended into 
> the letters at times.
This kind of technical problem I can fix easily.

We need however: a copy of the Unicode text, and pictures to indicate
how it should be rendered.

** If you could send me a Unicode text file corresponding to the bits
of text in these images, I could easily improve such things.

Please post such individual issues on the bug reporting page
and I'll look at them right away.

> Many thanks for also describing the licensing. Our only other concern to 
> which we were hesitant on is one that has been raised by font designers. 
> Their concern was that if the font was based on a proprietary font that this 
> would create licensing or copyright issues. Many first nations have taken 
> proprietary fonts, such as times, and simply added their character sets. We 
> just want to make sure that we are not violating any licensing or copyright 
> agreements in a roundabout way.
The status of the original Latin range, which was donated by URW, has
been worked out and reviewed long ago.  There is documentation about
that in the distribution.

This is not as you suggest a case of  simply grabbing a proprietary
product and modifying it.  URW officially made the font public and
released it under the GPL, originally for the Gnu GhostScript project.
 More information is to be found in the CREDITS file.  There is also
more detailed history of the whole transaction by URW elsewhere on the

As to other ranges, we have taken considerable pains to confirm that
the author of each conceded in writing to the release under the GPL
license.  (In fact, a large fraction of the glyphs were drawn
specifically for FreeFont, contrary to some description of the font
you may read in some places.  The IPA ranges in particular, have grown
along with the Unicode standard, and are a mixture of contributions
from several souces, including myself.)

> We are quite excited about the expanded glyph set and this has wide potential 
> for many indigenous groups struggling with font issues.

Let us know how we can help!

Keep in touch!

> Cheers,
> Jason
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Steve White [mailto:address@hidden
> Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2011 3:34 PM
> To: Jason Woolman
> Cc: address@hidden
> Subject: Re: [Freefont-bugs] License question
> Hi Jason!
> Great to hear from you!
> First, if you know of any errors with FreeFont, or have any
> suggestions, *please* report them on the bug reporting system at
> I personally make sure that all reports are addressed, and I
> personally fix many problems.
> As to the quality of the UCAS range, I can tell you that in some
> technical sense they are very nice.  But I am no native reader.  They
> were drawn by a very active contributor to FreeFont, Daniel Johnson,
> and I know he would be very interested to hear any reviews.
> Regarding the license
> -----------------------------
> Here is my legally-nonbinding executive summary:
> The primary purpose of the GNU license is to prevent anybody from
> taking this free software, in whole or in part, and claiming
> proprietary ownership of it.  (This has happened in the past, and
> sometimes people still try.)
> Anybody can distribute FreeFont, in whole or in part.  They can even
> sell a copy, or modify it.  But (except in the case of embedding in a
> document--see below), they *must* include in plainly readable form the
> original license, and information of where the original FreeFont can
> be found, and they can in no way hinder anybody from obtaining and
> using that original free software.
> If the original is modified, a plain description of the modifications
> must be included with the distributed version.  Any license placed on
> the distributed verson must be compatible with the original license.
> A special exception for FreeFont is: the font can be embedded in a
> document such as a PDF file (or similar), without the PDF file
> incurring the GNU license.
> Options
> -----------
> Now, I don't know how you have in mind to use FreeFont.
> There are options, to suit various cases.
> For example if you're distributing some non-free software on a CD, and
> you would like to provide FreeFont for your customers, there is
> nothing wrong with simply including the distribution package intact
> (with licenses etc.) on the CD, with installation instructions for
> your customer.
> What do you have in mind?
> Thanks for contacting us!
> P.S.  I lived in Vancouver for 14 years.  I taught somebody how to
> drive in the area around Salish Dr.
> On Thu, Oct 6, 2011 at 10:09 PM, Jason Woolman <address@hidden> wrote:
>> Greetings,
>> I work for a Native American (First Nation) group in Canada. We are looking
>> for font with a character set the includes the IPA extensions utilized by
>> our writing system. We are interested in the GNU FreeFont and would like to
>> make some additions/amendments to the font. During this process questions
>> about licensing and copyright were brought up.
>> A designer we were working with states the GNU fonts looked like three known
>> fonts to her, and as such, their listing by GNU would raise intellectual
>> property issues. She brought up the following arguments:
>> cons: Quality of fonts may be an issue (e.g., poor shaping of letters,
>> missing characters, spacing and other functional problems) and there is no
>> one to appeal to for correction. (It takes time, technical expertise and
>> artistry to get all these things right in a typeface. People who invest
>> their time and experience in that kind of activity usually need to be
>> compensated. There are some exceptions, which I describe below.)
>> cons: Intellectual property (IP) issues arise if the basis for the free font
>> was a design someone else owned the copyright to, i.e., the party offering
>> the font built on someone else's work. In a survey of thousands of fonts on
>> one free-font site, Ascender Corporation found this to be one of the biggest
>> problems.
>> Can  you tell me how licensing was dealt with?
>> We would love to work with the FreeFont and rerelease any changes/additions
>> but want to make sure we are legally covered.
>> Cheers,
>> Jason Woolman
>> Senior Archivist/RM Specialist
>> Musqueam First Nation
>> 6735 Salish Drive
>> Vancouver, BC V6N 4C4
>> Phone: (604) 269-3346
>> Fax: (604) 263-4212
>> address@hidden
>> Confidentiality Note: This message (and its attachments) is Confidential.
>> It is intended only for the person(s) or organizations(s) named above and
>> any other use or disclosure is strictly forbidden.  If this message is
>> received by anyone else, please notify the sender by return email, and
>> delete the message.  Thank you.

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