For approval: SIL Open Font License 1.1

Nicolas Spalinger nicolas_spalinger at
Thu Nov 6 00:22:49 UTC 2008

Matthew Flaschen wrote:
> Nicolas Spalinger wrote:
>>     * preventing stand-alone reselling within huge collections
> I don't know what "stand-alone reselling within huge collections" means.
>  However, the actual provision seems to be
> "1) Neither the Font Software nor any of its individual components,
> in Original or Modified Versions, may be sold by itself."
> I know FSF is satisfied with this because they believe a Hello World
> program would suffice
> (
> However, I'm not certain this is true, as a trivial program might be
> viewed by courts as an abuse of the license.
> This provision does seem to comply with OSD #1 due to the "aggregate
> software distribution" exemption.  Note though that the other software
> in the distribution may consist of fonts.  Thus, I believe OFL allows me
> to zip three independent OFL 1.1-licensed fonts + copyright info (and
> nothing else) together, then sell the zip.
> If either of these distributions (Hello World + OFL or 3 OFL together)
> were violations, then the license would not comply with OSD  #1.

It can be a very small piece of software or it can be another font.
That's fine. That's how the license is designed to work. Your proposed
example would satisfy the requirements and not violate the terms.

It has been designed to comply with DFSG/OSD #1's "as a component of an

The key idea is that people who just wish to resell open fonts as such
in their usual reselling system will have to think twice and that
customers who receive such Hello World bundles will ultimately know
about the motivations of the seller as copyright notice and license have
to be propagated.

Of course, that's not to say that a useful business model of adapting
existing open fonts for customers is discouraged (on the contrary). It's
just that it's a different thing than selling a font you have made from
scratch yourself.

That's the message that designers want to send when they release their
creation under OFL.

>>     * more descriptive changes of modifications
> I don't see anything in the license about this.  GPLv3, for instance,
> requires  "The work must carry prominent notices stating that you
> modified it, and giving a relevant date."  I see nothing like that in
> OFL 1.1, and certainly nothing "more descriptive" than that (you didn't
> give anything specific to compare to).

We have chosen not to do this in the body of the license itself (how can
you usefully force people to be descriptive?) but in the FAQ and in the
cultural open font design best practises it promotes, through an easy to
use template which has been used in real font releases by designers and
foundries adopting the OFL. It is strongly recommended to use and
complete to the FONTLOG as the project grows and branches appear but not

To quote the relevant FAQ bits:

Question: 2.13  What is this FONTLOG thing exactly?

Answer: It has three purposes: 1) to provide basic information on the
font to users and other developers, 2) to document changes that have
been made to the font or accompanying files, either by the original
authors or others, and 3) to provide a place to acknowledge the authors
and other contributors. Please use it! See below for details on how
changes should be noted.

Question: 2.14  Am I required to update the FONTLOG?

Answer: No, but users, designers and other developers might get very
frustrated at you if you don't! People need to know how derivative fonts
differ from the original, and how to take advantage of the changes, or
build on them.

3  About the FONTLOG

The FONTLOG can take a variety of formats, but should include these four

3.1  FONTLOG for <FontFamilyName>
This file provides detailed information on the <FontFamilyName> font
This information should be distributed along with the <FontFamilyName>
fonts and any derivative works.

3.2  Basic Font Information
(Here is where you would describe the purpose and brief specifications
for the font project, and where users can find more detailed
documentation. It can also include references to how changes can be
contributed back to the Original Version. You may also wish to include a
short guide to the design, or a reference to such a document.)

3.3  ChangeLog
(This should list both major and minor changes, most recent first. Here
are some examples:)

7 February 2007 (Pat Johnson) <NewFontFamilyName> Version 1.3
- Added Greek and Cyrillic glyphs
- Released as "<NewFontFamilyName>"

7 March 2006 (Fred Foobar) <NewFontFamilyName> Version 1.2
- Tweaked contextual behaviours
- Released as "<NewFontFamilyName>"

1 Feb 2005 (Jane Doe) <NewFontFamilyName> Version 1.1
- Improved build script performance and verbosity
- Extended the smart code documentation
- Corrected minor typos in the documentation
- Fixed position of combining inverted breve below (U+032F)
- Added OpenType/Graphite smart code for Armenian
- Added Armenian glyphs (U+0531 -> U+0587)
- Released as "<NewFontFamilyName>"

1 Jan 2005 (Joe Smith) <FontFamilyName> Version 1.0
- Initial release of font "<FontFamilyName>"

3.4  Acknowledgements
(Here is where contributors can be acknowledged.

If you make modifications be sure to add your name (N), email (E),
web-address (W) and description (D). This list is sorted by last name in
alphabetical order.)

N: Jane Doe
E: jane at
D: Contributor - Armenian glyphs and code

N: Fred Foobar
E: fred at
D: Contributor - misc Graphite fixes

N: Pat Johnson
E: pat at
D: Designer - Greek & Cyrillic glyphs based on Roman design

N: Tom Parker
E: tom at
D: Engineer - original smart font code

N: Joe Smith
E: joe at
D: Designer - original Roman glyphs

(Original authors can also include information here about their

It's worth noting that this best practise has now been integrated into
the fontforge editor and its native format:

Compare that to many restricted fonts where there is only a font binary
shipped without a descriptive text file like a README alongside and
where the license URL metadata points to a 404 URL or the license field
only has a circular reference license like "you can use this font
according to the license you have received" and where only the
supporting organisation is mentioned and rarely the designer(s). And
when this minimal information is included there is little description of
changes or the thinking or inspiration behind the design.

> Matt Flaschen


Nicolas Spalinger, NRSI volunteer

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 260 bytes
Desc: OpenPGP digital signature
URL: <>

More information about the License-review mailing list