For Approval: IPA Font License v1.0

Bruce Perens bruce at
Wed Feb 18 04:48:24 UTC 2009


This need not rest on OSD #4. OSD #2 requires that the license allow 
distribution in compiled form as well as source form.Compilation 
translates a program into a usable form. The IPA font license requires 
that a step required to translate the program into a usable form  - the 
combination of an original font file and a derivative work embodied as a 
difference file - must not take place until after distribution. Thus it 
doesn't permit distribution of the compiled form, and doesn't pass OSD #2.



Michael Tiemann wrote:
> [resent with a better subject line so that it joins the ongoing discussion]
> Matt,
> I read, as you do, that source and binary materials are treated
> differently by the OSD.  Moreover, I read that the second sentence of
> OSD#4 (which says "The license must explicitly permit distribution of
> software built from modified source code") explicitly allows one to
> create a binary work from derived sources and distribute such a binary
> work (though, again as you point out, named and/or versioned differently).
> I guess that the question then becomes "in the pantheon of sources and
> binaries, where does the font file fit?"  Is a font description file
> source code because it's the preferred way of describing the font, or is
> it a binary?  Technically one can patch either sources or binaries with
> 'patch', but clearly the most common use by far is to patch source code,
> so perhaps this makes the font description source.  But it could be
> binary.  Or is it both?  A document in postscript format or xml
> certainly looks like both.  Or is it neither?  There was some discussion
> during the SIL font review that font files in general don't fit the kind
> of protective rubric established for things like books or software
> programs.
> I do think there is a legitimate mechanical question which is: if a user
> creates a derived font by applying the patch file to the original font,
> what are the limits of using and distributing of the resulting work?
> And do those limitations reasonably comply with the OSD?  For example,
> if a user did such a transformation on their PC, and then the derived
> font were captured via an online backup procedure, would the media
> holding the backed up derived work create a violation of the license?
> What if it were restored to a different computer (or many different
> computers)?
> I do think that the question you raise about the different treatment of
> source and binary by OSD#4 is an important question, and I would like to
> see the IPA folks answer how they see this distinction, and whether the
> fact of this distinction might cause them to change anything in their
> approach.
> M

More information about the License-review mailing list