Re: Help with licensing questions

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> I'm currently packaging up Aurulent Sans.
> ( )
> At the moment there are only some compiled *.otf files available.
> Because of this I asked the author for sources to compile from. But the
> answer is going a bit over my current horizon.

Hi Paul,

Fonts and sources are a non-trivial problem. Here is some general
context I'm going to add to the wiki:

1. Modern font formats are pretty complex and complete, and can be
modified directly by editors like fontforge. For this reason many font
people affirm there is no need to require separate “sources”. There is
little to no information loss when an OpenType file is generated from
other intermediary format.

2. The OFL, in particular, considers that just giving authorisation to
others to modify and redistribute the generated font file is sufficient,
and you do not need to publish the specific format your font editor
uses. (other font licenses express this opinion in more awkward terms
like the GUST NOSOURCE license).

3. Likewise, when a font author edits the TTF/OTF/TTC font files
directly in his favorite font editor, those files are clearly the
canonical “sources” the (L)GPL intended to be relayed, and they should
be treated the same way as script files: both source and build result.

4. However it is also not uncommon to have authors that edit their fonts
in some other format, and convert it to TTF/OTF/TTC at the last creation
stage (with possibly some scripted transformations before). Those
authors would clearly consider having to restart from the TTF/OTF/TTC
files a setback (or at least a loss of convenience). In that case
TTC/OTF/TTF files are clearly not the canonical “sources” in the (L)GPL

6. Since Fedora cares about freedom, and wants to give itself and
downstream the means to modify the fonts it ships should the need
arises, we'd like you as packager to make the effort to locate the
canonical sources of a font project and generate your font files from
them in the %build stage. This even if the particular free/open license
of the font you package does not make it an absolute licensing

7. For example the fontforge sfd format is text-based and makes it
possible to use a normal patch/vcs-based FLOSS workflow, so it is very
desirable to use canonical sources in that format whenever upstream
provides them.

8. Nevertheless if there is no evidence the font author works from some
other “sources”, or didn't publish them, and didn't reply or refused to
do it when contacted by mail, there is little you can do. Even if the
font project is licensed under the (L)GPL you do not have access to
separate “sources”. Fedora can not be sued for not passing on something
the original author didn't provide. In that case package the TTF/OTF/TTC
files directly.

9. Similarly, if the actual source files are made available, but are in
some other font editor format free tools like fontforge can not edit,
you can't really build from them. In that case package the sources in
the srpm but ship the generated files upstream provided in the rpm.

10. Lastly, font sources in metatype format can be non-trivial to build,
and seem to require specific build scripts tuned to the TEX variant the
distro ships. Building any font from metatype would probably require
help from TEX specialists such as Jonathan Underwood.

11. In your case the author has lost those scripts, and does not intend
to work from metatype anymore (preferring direct fontforge editing), so
it's probably no great loss to forget the original metatype source. Just
get him to publish an authoritative sfd version of his font, and use it
as your source.

12. The author thinking the metatype sources would require him to use
some other license than the OFL because they look more software-ish is
just confusing things (pretty common occurrence unfortunately). GPL-ing
the build scripts would probably be more interesting, but a. they're
lost and b. this would not change the font licensing at all.

I hope this clears the mud a little.


Nicolas Mailhot

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