Re: Overpass Fonts licensing

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On Thu, Dec 06, 2012 at 11:22:18AM +0100, Dave Crossland wrote:
> Hi Richard and Tom!
> On 6 December 2012 05:53, Richard Fontana <rfontana@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> >
> > In response to a well-articulated request by a developer, Red Hat is
> > hereby dual-licensing Overpass Fonts[1] under the SIL Open Font
> > License 1.1 (heretofore the license of the fonts) and the Apache
> > License 2.0. This shall serve as a general public announcement.
> Great news!
> I see that the copyright notice says, "Copyright 2011 Red Hat, Inc.,
> with Reserved Font Name OVERPASS."
> Anyone serving the fonts as web fonts under the OFL will need
> additional permission to distribute it with the RFN because
> modifications are required in order to convert formats for wide
> browser compatibility, offer subsets to reduce latency, and so on.
> The Apache license doesn't have such requirements.
> Therefore I personally suggest removing the RFN notice.
> If 'Overpass' is considered a valuable Red Hat trademark, I'd
> personally suggest declaring trademark notices alongside copyright
> notices for both licenses.

That may make good sense; let me think about this.
Essentially I think you are saying that the 'Reserved Font Name'
feature of the SIL OFL is a flaw in practice.

> Personally I don't like Apache for fonts, so I wonder if you might
> explain about the thinking behind using both licenses.

The reason to continue using SIL OFL is, well, because we've been
using it (before I joined Red Hat nearly 5 years ago Fedora had
already declared OFL its recommended font license). And indeed we
rejoiced in the opportunity to use it in certain cases, Lohit fonts
and Liberation Fonts 2.0. The latter license change was something I
personally regarded as a 'liberation', if you will. It is too soon to
question the legitimacy of such rejoicing. However:

The developer in question, not being previously familiar with the SIL
OFL, read it and stumbled across the "you may not sell these fonts by
themselves" clause. He realized the awful truth (although he didn't
put it this way): there is no way to reconcile SIL OFL being "free"
and the principle, established by such matters as SunRPC, that a "you
may not sell this material in isolation" clause is nonfree for a
software license, unless you either come to an understanding that the
free software world applies a double standard when it comes to fonts
vs. software, or you adopt the FSF's "hello world" conceptual trick,
which I am not entirely comfortable with given that we don't seem to
have any clear understanding that SIL or the body of SIL licensors
would see the 'hello world' trick as compliant with the OFL.

Given that realizations of this problem represent an important step
forward in free culture licensing, and given Red Hat's own
encouragement of standardization on SIL OFL (which itself has had good
justifications), and given that Red Hat continues to have copyright
control over Overpass fonts, it follows that the right thing to do is
to make these fonts additionally availabe under a license that is
universally accepted as a free software license.

The Apache License 2.0 was picked in particular because I've seen it
used for some fonts and the developer in question initially had some
concerns (though not relevant IMO) about the appearance of GPLv3
incompatibility of SIL OFL; it is beyond dispute that the Apache
License 2.0 is GPLv3-compatible.

- RF

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