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The Ubuntu font and a fresh look at open font licensing

The Ubuntu font and a fresh look at open font licensing

Posted Oct 14, 2010 9:42 UTC (Thu) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454)
In reply to: The Ubuntu font and a fresh look at open font licensing by rsidd
Parent article: The Ubuntu font and a fresh look at open font licensing

And, in fact, Liberation and DejaVu licensing is incompatible, so they can not be mixed legaly. (which *will* be a problem with the one-of-a-kind license Ubuntu is pushing)


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Short-term vs. longer-term

Posted Oct 14, 2010 11:41 UTC (Thu) by sladen (subscriber, #27402) [Link]

The longer-term desire, and the bigger picture (which Canonical is very kindly underwriting) is for a one-of-many-licence. A licence, or licensing framework that is broadly received and compatible with the goals from across the libre/open font community. Input is greatly valued, because without that input the result might not cater for everybody.

Fonts take a very long time to develop, and licensing turns out to take even longer! The Ubuntu Font Licence is therefore very much an interim step—a libre means-to-an-end (release early, release often) for getting the Ubuntu Font Family included in K/Ubuntu 10.10 where it can gain from wider testing.

The use of "Ubuntu" in the licence-name will hopefully discourage wider use of the licence by groups who are not setup (copyright assignment is presently required for the Ubuntu Font Family) to transition to other/better/future licences when they become available.

Hopefully this background and reasoning is covered in the Ubuntu Font Family Licensing FAQ (but if an area needs expanding please file FAQ suggestions).

Short-term vs. longer-term

Posted Oct 14, 2010 11:53 UTC (Thu) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

"The use of "Ubuntu" in the licence-name will hopefully discourage wider use of the licence by groups who are not setup (copyright assignment is presently required for the Ubuntu Font Family) to transition to other/better/future licences when they become available."

Wouldn't the use of "Ubuntu" in the name of the font discourage wider usage of the font itself even if it is eventually under a recognized free font license? Is that the goal as well?

Use of "Ubuntu" as font name

Posted Oct 14, 2010 12:51 UTC (Thu) by sladen (subscriber, #27402) [Link]

It's entirely possible, yes; and I filed a bug along those lines some months ago. ...In the opposite direction, it is also possible that use of the font family may eclipse use of the distribution (or even a son-of-Ubuntu-Font-Family, as has been the case with DejaVu): The bug tracker would be a useful, long-term location to record such thoughts and make it easier to act on them. In the mean-time, hopefully the very existence of the Ubuntu Font Family (regardless of name, or ultimate libre licence) is contributing to the expansion and visibility of the libre/open font community, as well as contributing to the readability and beauty of various desktop themes.

Use of "Ubuntu" as font name

Posted Oct 14, 2010 15:35 UTC (Thu) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

I think if Canonical is interested in the font getting widely used, it needs a vendor and distribution neutral name and free license. Otherwise it is just a non starter and won't useful to the broader community.

Use of "Ubuntu" as font name

Posted Oct 14, 2010 17:27 UTC (Thu) by jspaleta (subscriber, #50639) [Link]

I'd have to concur with regard to the font name. It's a bit weird how branding is a double-edged sword inside our ecosystem when it comes to project naming.

Though I will say having Ubuntu in the licensing name probably won't stop people from using the license if its a good fit for their needs. Historically that really hasn't worked that way. Didn't stop people from picking up the MIT X11 license and reusing it outside of its original use by MIT. Hasn't stopped people using the BSD license outside of BSD. Hasn't stopped the uptake of the Affero GPL license even though Affero Inc. is a privately held for-profit entity. If this "interim" license hangs around too long.. its not going to be "interim" for other people who pick it up and reuse it...or fork this font into a new project. The forked project won't have to follow Canonical's planned re-licensing. I could take the published font right now...fork it..rename it..and we'd be stuck with the "interim" license terms on something.

What's more disturbing still is the blanket copyright assignment requirement to Canonical for these fonts. Canonical continues to push its copyright assignment agenda. Aaron Siego's comments about how Canonical's assignment policy could be fixed to be more balanced and still provide good-faith re-licensing powers is an important read.

http://aseigo.blogspot.com/2010/09/copyright-assignments-...

Read the comment discussion. You can have a contributor agreement that gives a central authority _limited_ ability to relicense in good-faith without giving them the power to create a proprietary fork of the codebase. Aaron goes to some length explaining how KDE's managing entity does this to balance all interests.

-jef

The Ubuntu font and a fresh look at open font licensing

Posted Oct 14, 2010 12:04 UTC (Thu) by yosch (guest, #4675) [Link]

BTW it looks like most font sources for Liberation still have the obscure self-referring EULA in their binary fields left over from the commissioning from Ascender:

License URL:
http://www.ascendercorp.com/liberation.html
License:
Use of this Liberation font software is subject to the license agreement
under which you accepted the Liberation font software.

And the embedding (fsType) is still set to Editable embedding (0x0008) which indicates that they may be embedded in documents, but must only be installed temporarily on the remote system.

Maybe the new Chrom*OS fonts: Arimo, Tinos, Cousine -recently commissioned from the same foundry under OFL - will provide a better alternative than Liberation for font compatibility: http://chromestory.com/2010/09/how-to-get-chrome-os-fonts... ?


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