For Approval: IPA Font License v1.0

yuko.noguchi at yuko.noguchi at
Wed Feb 18 12:20:48 UTC 2009

Dear Michael,

Thank you for your discussion.

> I do think that the question you raise about the different treatment
> source and binary by OSD#4 is an important question, and I would like
> see the IPA folks answer how they see this distinction, and whether
> fact of this distinction might cause them to change anything in their
> approach.

I have talked with the IPA, and here is what they explained to me.
Because I am not a programmer, please allow me if there is anything
imprecise in the following explanation.  

As you may already understand, font programs are created in a different
manner from usual software programs.  They are not created using
programming languages, and therefore, in a strict sense, there is no
"source code" written in programming languages.  Instead, font programs
are created and modified using certain font developing tools, and in
general, distributed font programs (which can be installed into PCs
without compilation, and in this sense, can be seen as equivalent to
object code) can be directly modified using these font developing tools
without requiring any other information (therefore, in this sense, can
be seen as equivalent to source code).   Therefore, font programs is a
program that has the function of both object code and source code at the
same time.  In fact, there are many GPL font programs which are
distributed without attaching any other file.
See, for example,  

IPA informs me that there is another type of files called "native files"
created by font developing tools, which are sometimes attached to font
programs.  These native files, however, is not required in order for a
recipient of font programs to modify the font programs.  For example,
OSS developing tool "fontforge" and "TTX/Font Tools" do not require
native files to modify font programs.

IPA acknowledges that SIL Open Font License is now approved by OSI.  IPA
understands that the largest difference between the IPA license as
proposed and the SIL OFL is this difference file requirement.  IPA
thought that, because font programs have the function of source code, it
could ask the difference file system under OSD #4, and also it would
help avoiding confusions in the OSS font market by making the changes
readily distinguished from the base source.

I know that Bruce has raised the question regarding OSD#2.  As I am not
sure how to interpret OSD in the context of font programs, which has
somehow different characteristic from usual software program, it is not
easy for us to answer to Bruce's point about OSD #2 at this point.  If
there would be further discussion on this list, we would highly
appreciate it.

Thank you all for your great discussions.

Kind regards,

Yuko Noguchi


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