For approval: SIL Open Font License 1.1

Bruce Perens bruce at
Mon Nov 10 01:18:52 UTC 2008

Nicolas Spalinger wrote:
> What I'm asking it how other FLOSS licenses currently used for fonts deal with embedding of fonts in documents?
 From a legal perspective, it's just like linking code into a larger 
program to create a derivative work. Lots of licenses deal with that.

The other related issue is making aggregate distributions of various 
pieces that are not derivative works of each other. This too is a 
familiar issue in current licenses.
> OK but this is not how it may be read by many.
I think David could have explained the part around "might" better by 
adding an example. David's paragraph is probably stronger in its effect 
on a judge than the novice might perceive it on first reading, if that 
novice is confused by "might". Your text is so far going to be weaker in 
its effect on a judge than the novice would perceive it on first reading.

If we are arguing issues of embedding here, expect to see them argued in 
court too, at great expense to some poor developer. To protect your 
community, your license must be written to settle arguments rather than 
create them as much as possible. So, you really need to walk through 
situations you don't appear to have considered entirely, view them with 
more pessimism than you have - because the judge isn't necessarily 
sympathetic to you, and make sure your license handles them.
> How about the problem for users that they need to know that their
> freedom to use their choice of content license may be affected by a
> designer wishing to drop the exception in a downstream branch?
Yes, that's true. The fact that you have this license for this version 
doesn't guarantee that all versions are under the same license.

A similar example with your license is that the copyright holder of the 
font has a right to distribute commercial versions of the same font, or 
a similar one, with different licensing. The copyright holder is not 
compelled to always use your license. And someone else can use the name 
of your font for something entirely different from your font and not 
under your license, unless you trademark the font name, register the 
trademark, and prosecute infringement.
> How impractical is it to check each time that the particular branch of the font software you happen to use still has the exception? [...] IMHO too many scenarios to imagine for a clear model for both users and font designers....
So, what you are saying here is that you don't want to compel people to 
distribute source. I approve. Just say something like this, but have a 
lawyer make sure it's the right way to say it:

1. This font may be used and distributed without limitation while it is 
embedded in a document.
2. When this font, or information derived from this font, is embedded in 
a document, other information in the document that is unrelated to this 
font shall not be considered to be a derivative work of this font. For 
example, embedding this font in a document does not make the text of the 
document a derivative work of this font.

This gives people unlimited right to embed fonts and use the result 
while not giving them a chance to get out of the license by extracting 
the font.

> But a @font-face stanza is still referencing an external font.
Except in email. In that case, everything's a MIME attachment in the 
same document.



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