For Approval: IPA Font License v1.0

Bruce Perens bruce at
Thu Feb 12 19:17:44 UTC 2009

Dear Yuko,

Given your explanation, It seems to me that the premise of the IPA font 
license is that some utility for automatically dealing with difference 
files in fonts will become a standard part of all computer systems. 
Currently, this is not an automatic facility that is included with BSD 
or Linux desktops that I am aware of, or Macintosh or Microsoft systems. 
All of those systems have a list of font formats that they can presently 
accommodate. On loading a combination of a font and a difference file, 
the systems I have mentioned would fail to use the font. Currently, the 
users of these systems would be required to operate command-line tools 
of considerable sophistication in order to transform the font into a 
usable form.

The easy solution for this is to provide the font in the format expected 
by these various systems, rather than expect the user to install special 
software.  A license that prohibits  such a common and expected 
operation would, I believe, be rejected. I do not know of any 
OSI-approved licenses at present that make a similar restriction.

I urge you to take a wider view regarding the possible derivative works. 
Consider, for example, the creation of a new Unicode font. Certainly it 
would be to everyone's advantage for Unicode fonts worldwide to render 
kanji according to IPA. Such a Unicode font would be derived from the 
IPA font, and a number of other fonts as well. The overall size of the 
combined work might hold many times the number of glyphs in the IPA 
font. But the license you propose would restrict such a font to being 
encoded as the IPA font and a much larger difference file, and it could 
not be converted between formats for distribution. It seems that this 
would make the use of IPA's font untenable for the creators of such 
works. Surely it is to the advantage of IPA and the Japanese people for 
this sort of work to be possible.

I understand your reluctance regarding the potential large impact of 
small changes. Please understand that you are not the first to make such 
an argument, and that Open Source licenses permit modification in other 
potentially dangerous situations. For example, we have operating system 
device drivers which can physically damage the computer equipment if 
they are incorrect. If OpenStreetMap is incorrect, an application using 
it can guide the driver of an automobile and its occupants into a 
life-threatening situation. There are many such works under Open Source 
licenses that permit the distribution of directly-executable versions of 
modified works.

The major restrictions on modification of the executable file, rather 
than the source file, that OSI has been willing to accept in the past 
are restrictions on trademark use and a requirement to rename derivative 

I have not seen similar licenses accepted in the past, so I would 
suggest that the prospect of OSI acceptance is unlikely if this license 
is not modified. But I think this is an important project, so I urge you 
to make the necessary modifications and obtain acceptance of the 
license, or to use one of the existing approved licenses.

    Many Thanks

    Bruce Perens

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