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Ubuntu Font Family PPA

Ubuntu Font Family PPA

Posted Sep 8, 2010 1:15 UTC (Wed) by SEMW (subscriber, #52697)
In reply to: Ubuntu Font Family PPA by jspaleta
Parent article: Looking at Fedora 14 and Ubuntu 10.10

>Have I just violated Canonical's copyrights on the fonts?

No more, surely, than you would have done so anyway, due to that Ubuntu logo visible in the screenshot (or in your case, the Fedora logo -- copyright Red Hat). And, of course, Mozilla's -- that darned Firefox icon in the panel. And, probably, several dozen anonymous icon designers who haven't explicitly released their work under a Free license. And, oh dear, I seem to have violated Red Hat's trademark myself, by publishing (in this comment) the word "Fedora" without the ® symbol or the words "Fedora and the Infinity design logo are trademarks of Red Hat, Inc.", as I am required to do by their trademark guidelines. Not to mention....

Etc, etc, etc. Being that paranoid over IP leads nowhere, fast. And whilst IANAL, I was under the impression that these sort of uses are more than covered by Fair Use in the USA, and its equivalent in other jurisdictions.

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Ubuntu Font Family PPA

Posted Sep 8, 2010 2:53 UTC (Wed) by jspaleta (subscriber, #50639) [Link]

You are confusing trademark and copyright which is unfortunate.

Fonts _do_ have copyright licenses associated with them. The permission to use a font typeface to render a static image can not be taken for granted as fair use in all cases. Fair use is at best situational and decided on a case-by-case basis.


Ubuntu Font Family PPA

Posted Sep 8, 2010 3:30 UTC (Wed) by SEMW (subscriber, #52697) [Link]

> You are confusing trademark and copyright which is unfortunate.

I don't believe I am. A logo, being a creative work, is surely (disclaimer: IANAL) subject to copyright as well as being a trademark; and whilst it's arguable whether the Ubuntu & Fedora logos are complicated enough (being simple, solid colour, & geometrical) for copyright to apply, the Firefox logo certainly is. In the case of just the word "Fedora", where only trademark law applies, I did specifically say 'trademark' -- the example not being irrelevant because trademark law is also subject to fair use. In any case, the point -- that being that paranoid over IP leads nowhere, fast -- was framed in terms of Intellectual Property, which covers both.

And yes, certainly fonts are subject to copyright; I never implied otherwise. Perhaps I should have -- whilst they certainly are where I live (the UK), where they actually are or not in the US is up for debate: see, for example, Eltra Corp. v. Ringer. But even in jurisdictions where they definitely are subject to copyright, if you can point to a single case where a software screenshot or equivalent -- i.e. something where the font is used indirectly, not directly (so a photo with an open book in it, rather than a logo or the book itself) has been found to not be fair use -- I'll be very surprised.

Ubuntu Font Family PPA

Posted Sep 8, 2010 4:49 UTC (Wed) by jspaleta (subscriber, #50639) [Link]

Citing a ruling pertaining to a court case about physical typesetting equipment that predates the decision which extended copyright to software generally..seems a bit of a reach...and doesn't actually address the issue of what permitted use is in regard to the _software_ Canonical is providing "all rights reserved".

Even granting you that court case... the copyrightability of digital typography is even more complex than you realize. That court ruling basically makes typefaces uncopyrightable as artistic works in the US. But, because the US is a signatory of the Berne convention... US courts must uphold typography copyrights from other jurisdictions that allow then to be registered as artistic works... effectively mooting that ruling as other countries allow fonts to be copyrighted.

But regardless of that little nuance... none of that actually speaks to fonts as copyrightable pieces of software. Here's some more up-to-date reading that puts that ruling in context of software:

If I had clear license to _use_ the font software and took a screenshot of that usage or printed a document from a computer program _using_ the font software...things would be fine. But there is no EULA that tells me what I am allowed to actually do with the font software such that I can take a screenshot or print a document rendered with the font software in use. Certainly installing and accessing font software with other software programs is not automatically fair use.


Ubuntu Font Family PPA

Posted Sep 9, 2010 13:56 UTC (Thu) by DOT (subscriber, #58786) [Link]

While this is certainly an interesting theoretical debate, Canonical has said that the font will be released with a free license when they package it with Ubuntu. So feel free to beta-test it and make screenshots, and wait for the actual release before using it for publication.

Ubuntu Font Family PPA

Posted Sep 9, 2010 20:50 UTC (Thu) by jmm82 (guest, #59425) [Link]

It really isn't that interesting and I think I have read the same debate here about 100 times. Yet, it is a good excuse to argue about trademarks/copyrights and that is enough for some people. Maybe I'm just being grumpy!

Ubuntu Font Family PPA

Posted Sep 9, 2010 21:07 UTC (Thu) by jspaleta (subscriber, #50639) [Link]

Define publication. I'm encourage to render screenshots but discouraged from sending a document to a printer?

If the fonts came with a EULA about what I was actually allowed to do and spelled what I was allowed and not allowed to do..fine. But there is no EULA on those fonts which is a lapse. It doesn't really matter what the license will be in the future or the intention to openly license it at some point. Right now I have no license under the terms of which I can _use_ the fonts even though I can obtain them and install them. Even proprietary licensed fonts come with EULAs which tell me what I can and cannot do with the software. This software doesn't provide any licensing terms at all which describe what is and is not allowed usage. That's a problem.


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