R: Re: License Committee Report for April 2009

Nicolas Spalinger nicolas_spalinger at sil.org
Wed Apr 1 13:21:37 UTC 2009

> Nicolas,
> Just a little remark that should not change the substance. You make a
> reference to the FAQ explaining the intention of the license.
> While producing a set of FAQ is a good thing, IMHO it has little or
> no impact on the actual working of the license, nor can it impact the
> intent of the *licensor*, which is the only really relevant intent in
> most jurisdictions.

Thanks for you remark.

Yes, we're aware of the fact that the FAQ has no legal binding. But
providing longer explanations, practical examples (like the FONTLOG
template) and gathering in one place all the questions people have had
over the years of the various aspects can only be helpful. And it has
already helped. It's all part of our legibility approach. But I agree
that it has no strict legal value and that the license stands on its own.

I think it was Eben Moglen who said that licenses are like the
constitution for a community. I think that Eben is right again: as with
constitutions, there are things written and other things interpreted to
be in tune with what is written: values, best practises, recommended
social norms, etc then come on top of that foundational layer. That's
what we're doing with the FAQ and the foo-open-font-source VCS template
(and the work going on with the OpenFontLibrary).

> The same has been widey discussed for the FSF's FAQ
> concerning the *GPL's.
> This unless a specifc mention is made to the FAQ within the license,
> and even then we are faced with a number of issues on who's chartered to
> produce the FAQ, consumer protection, contract law and the like.

Indeed, when the FAQ is directly referenced it becomes part of the
license which add extra layers of complexity...

> Fascinating topic to me. :-)

And to me too, considering that even in hacker circles many don't always
fully grasp the working model of the well-established licenses.

> With best regards,
> Carlo

Best regards,

Nicolas Spalinger, NRSI volunteer
Debian/Ubuntu font team / OpenFontLibrary

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