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I still don’t see a difference between libre and non-libre fonts in relationship to web assets. The biggest difference is just the fee that needs to be paid in order to use, or modify the font in question. If libre fonts are used in a commercial environment, they do compete directly with non-libre fonts.
The breakthrough for me in understanding why Google Fonts favours open licenses came when I sat down with David Kuettel and he explained some of the reasons why it is useful for Google services for fonts to be licensed in this way. These were particular technical benefits, relating to Google's services (e.g. the more widespread the use of a webfont, the more end user systems it will be cached on, and hence the quicker Google services using that font can be deployed to that user), and while I doubt if I grasped all of the ways in which Google indirectly derives benefits from the GF fonts, I do at least understand that there are sensible business decisions involved.
Web fonts? Sure. Though I’m not quite sure how you’re gonna pull it off. TypeKit and other hosted services that require tag insertion are out, and licensing probably means you shouldn’t submit your purchased font files. If you can work out some other way to make it work legally, go nuts, but it’s looking like free fonts are your best friend here.
Yes, there's a need for "Libre" fonts.
You are handling very well the use-case of fonts bundled with commercial apps. But you are not yet handling at all the use-case of fonts bundled with Open Source apps.
On a more general note:Speaking from experience, I can say that there is a portion of the open-source font development community that has so far contributed a great deal to the typographic community. The commercial font world may not be receiving money from the open-source community but frequently receives important contributions in terms of highly-qualified customer feedback, developer time, bug reports and novel usage.The Dutch type scene's contributions are a bit untypical. In particular, I mean the fontTools/TTX package which has been originally written by Just van Rossum, a colleague of Frank's at the KABK in The Hague. Just is not what you'd consider a typical libre software developer, but I imagine that his contribution has been largely motivated by his family origins: Just's older brother Guido van Rossum is, as we all know, the principal creator of Python, one of the most popular 'new' scripting languages of this time. I think a lot of Python's elegance and usefulness from early on can be attributed to some form of informal collaboration between the van Rossums: though I do know this for a fact, I guess that Guido must have taken feedback from Just, and from his colleagues Erik and Petr van Blokland while authoring Python.These fortunate circumstances have led to Python becoming an undisputed favorite in the type design and font development realm, with fontTools/TTX at its very heart.I must note that several large companies tried to establish alternatives to fontTools. I was part of an effort in the early 2000s by the font groups at Microsoft, Adobe and Apple to establish an XML representation of the SFNT container, and to produce software that would convert SFNT to XML and back. This effort essentially led to nothing, though some traces of it are still visible in Apple's ftx commandline tools. Also stemming from this, Adobe has once developed a Java-based "Annotated OpenType Spec" package, which included the OpenType spec in XML form with annotations, Java tools to manipulate portions of the fonts and some example test fonts. This effort has also been abandoned.Just like in real life, some efforts are done better when openly shared and carried through public or wide-open private funding. They're typically called "infrastructure", and include things like roads, railways, electrification, cities, canals, education etc. These are large-scale efforts that don't yield a profit margin for an individual entity but are indispensable for the community as a whole, and allow individual businesses to operate and to yield profit on their own realms. Other efforts are better off when left to private business enterprises which can steer their decisions and be motivated by profits.This thinking has been a foundation of the post-Medieval Western European society, and has so far shown to be probably the most effective.In computing, I believe the same principles apply. Open-source projects are at their best when they aim at providing "infrastructure". Just like you build a highway using public money and then let businesses "embellish" it by adding service points such as hotels, restaurants or gas stations that are operated privately, the Apache web server project is developed as open-source but some extensions or customized applications may be offered by private entities on a commercial basis.I'm citing Apache here, and would quote other permissive open-source licensing models such as BSD or MIT, because those are, in my opinion, deeply rooted in the harmonious co-existance of public and private interests that is the basis of the civilization model originating in Western Europe. And this is why I'll always refer to Richard Stallman and the FSF gang as communists. [Adam's post continues below]
Back to my musings about the contributions of the open-source font community: we already have evidence that the existence of fontTools/TTX has allowed many commercial font projects to be completed while they otherwise couldn't. We have seen that the development of the open-source OpenType Layout engine HarfBuzz (major credit to Behdad here) has not only allowed products outside of Windows to display OpenType fonts properly, but has also led to the discovery of bugs in Microsoft's Uniscribe engine, in the Adobe FDK for OpenType toolkit and in a number of commercially-developed OpenType fonts. We also have evidence that the development of FreeType (David Turner, and now Werner Lemberg) has done the same to font rasterization.These projects are not "products", they're "infrastructure". Free, well-documented and well-available software infrastructure which allows businesses to build upon and innovate products.There are a number of other open-source projects which play the same role. One massive is the ICU library, one that never has gained really significant recognition at the level it should is TeX (though I must applaud to Frank's efforts in awarding Don Knuth the Dr. Peter Karow award last month).To me, the most important open-source font projects -- and the ones that actually matter and make a difference -- are those which provide infrastructure. I could cite some mathematical typesetting fonts such as STIX, later turned into XITS by Khaled, I could cite the new Noto project financed by Google which aims at a complete linguistic coverage of all the world's living scripts (and possibly some dead ones), I can also name projects such as Junicode or EB Garamond aim to provide a classical body typeface with a character set suitable to cover all kinds of needs to specialty linguists, I can name a number of SIL projects, in particular Gentium and Charis, that play the same role.In my personal opinion, whenever open-source projects aim to become products, they usually fail. Scribus is not really a good page layout application (Pages and InDesign are better). InkScape is a frustrating vector drawing application (Illustrator or even Sketch are better). Gimp is quite all-right, but Photoshop or the new Mac shooting star Pixelmator are much better still.And FontForge is good as a Python library for automated font manipulation, but is not really a good type design application.Please note that these are all my personal views. I essentially for them though my own experience -- I know which applications and software packages I use, in which case I choose open-source software and in which case I choose to use commercial closed-source apps, for which I pay gladly.So, there is no conflict between open-source and non-open-source in my view.
If only there were some kind of online forums where the Google web fonts team could take questions directly from the public…
Hi all. I'm going to try to answer Thomas's original question - what do I consider appropriate in terms of drawing inspiration. Let me say from the outset that this is my personal opinion, certainly not any kind of official policy of my employer.All fonts are based on what came before them, to varying degrees. This is a normal and good thing, and should be celebrated, not scorned. That said, I strongly believe there are good and bad ways to do this. To me, originality is one of many factors in quality, and cannot be separated out cleanly. Also, it's a gray area, and subjective to a large extent. To my eyes, Crimson looks nothing like Minion, not even trying to imitate Slimbach's signature calligraphic flair. Conversely, for a long time I was pretty convinced that Calibri was inspired directly by Computer Modern Sans (without credit). Only after chatting with Luc de Groot was I satisfied that the similarities weren't as strong as I thought, and to the extent that they were, it was from drawing on similar sources and having a very similar design goal (after all, both are the default sans font in the document preparation systems that commissioned them). Other people's eyes will rate the similarities differently.Fonts that are revivals or even direct redrawings of "classic" fonts now in the public domain are worthwhile. To me anything over a hundred years ago or so is also clearly fair game, and also pretty much anything in the ATF catalog. On the other side, any time the designer is still living, I consider direct copies unacceptable. We had people offering these to us, and we consistently rejected them.Even for new versions of very old fonts, quality matters. You still see revivals coming out today such as Benton Sans and American Gothic, because the originals are amazing and there is value in adapting them to modern design standards, including making them more "webby." Yet, a crappy digitization such as Ascender's original News Gothic is so poor that I would consider it barely ethical, especially considering the wide distribution it got through bundling (I rarely call out badness by name, but seriously, take a look at http://www.ascendercorp.com/font/news-gothic/).So public domain is a clear yes, and outright copies of modern fonts are a clear no. That leaves a _huge_ gray area, and that's what's fueling such passionate discussion now. In general, I think it's a good idea to draw inspiration from existing fonts but bring something of your own to them, and font design has a long, rich tradition of that. I'll pick on the fonts inspired by Avenir to illustrate my point more sharply. Most people probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Avenir, Gotham, and Museo Sans (and I remember when https://twitter.com/Linotype_com/status/164373958634909696 happened, which made me chuckle). But I think everyone here would agree that the latter two are truly excellent executions, and the designers of both brought something of themselves, certainly not just copying Adrian Frutiger's seminal idea. These are a clear yes to me.[Raph's post continues below]
Another example I'll pick on is Whitney and Source Sans. I enjoy playing the "guess the font" game followed by Inspect Element, and I found myself often confusing the two, especially at text sizes. Both explicitly cite the Benton gothics as inspiration (Whitney additionally cites Frutiger), so it's not surprising that they ended up with a lot of similarity (see http://practicaltypography.com/calibri-alternatives.html for a comparison image). I think these fonts are absolutely great, and I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the designers of both fonts. Needless to say, I'm thrilled to have Source Sans available on Google Fonts, thanks to Adobe's generosity. Yet, I do wonder, if it had arrived there with an Eastern European or Latino name as the credit, whether that might have been featured on Tiffany's imaginary tumblr that started this whole discussion.That said, there have been plenty of times a proposal was sent to us where I said, "yeah, that looks too much like an existing font," and I always rejected those. Originality absolutely is one of the criteria we used, and I always favored something truly original over a merely competent execution of an existing idea. Of course, as Adam says, within the domain of clean sans fonts it's hard to say something truly new.The goal of Google Fonts project has never been building a collection of "high style" fonts, where every font would impress a panel of distinguished print designers. Rather, we wanted to make a wide variety of fonts available for easy use. We tried to make sure every font set a minimum quality level, especially for things like character set coverage and rendering bugs, so that users would never say, "wow, I wish I didn't use a web font for that." If none of the fonts in the Google collection are considered good or appropriate enough, I am very happy for web designers to go and buy the font they need, and put some coin in a font designer's pocket.One of the things I'm most proud of is that we experimented and iterated a lot on how to truly design fonts for the Web. Vern's Oswald and Pablo's Dancing Script are two early examples that exemplify what I'm talking about. Oswald is, of course, almost a direct copy of Benton's Alternate Gothic design, but if you look at it carefully, there are lots of small details that make it work better on the web. It's currently the Number 3 most popular Google font at about a billion and a half served a week, and I can see why.The "voice" of the Google Fonts collection is young and fast-moving, and I don't apologize for that for an instant. I am very proud of the talented designers we've worked with and how strongly the common goal of designing _for the web_ has resonated. A large part of the process is using analytics (http://www.google.com/fonts#Analytics:total) to figure out what works and what doesn't, and then iterating quickly. In some cases that means improving existing fonts, in other cases churning more out based on what was learned. I don't think we would have been able to do that nearly as well had we worked with designers who, pardon the expression, had a broad-nibbed pen stuck up their ass. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love fonts that represent years of intense craftsmanship. That's just not what we were doing. And again, if people want those fonts for their projects, I heartily recommend they go out and buy them.I hope I've expressed a little of my thinking, and hopefully have brought a little light (and not much heat) to this discussion.Raph
"Is there a point to all this?"
First off, Vernon, I did not, and let me be perfectly clear about this, ever, propose a 'Permissions Table' alone.
Secondly, if he wants to, he can drown out the conversation by pasting infinitely, and we are screwed, because it's Dave's thread.
k_l_ wrote: What is your point?
Paul van der Laan wrote: Stick to the topic, Vernon.
Really? On what do you base such thinking?
I think you've been telling yourself that you're giving away fonts in order to grow the market for commercial fonts as a kind of cover for a very weak moral position. To tell you the truth, I think it's narcissistic.
but what if others that you, yourself, consider atrocious have been viewed and downloaded even more? Still a success for you?
What if they start selling ad space on the font board? And what if they're ads for fonts, creating the kind of cut-throat competition you say you don't like?
Sorry, Pablo, they're not your fonts anymore.
My fonts are out there floating in the Cloud,They have learned to fly, taking a life on their own.They are no longer my fonts..They are your fonts now.
yes i'm very aware that it was not your proposal alone
I remember that you didn't propose a 'Permissions Table' alone, and I agree Vernon is brusque to leave the other contributors out.
Pablo says people use GF and then graduate to TK or WT, and all commercial customers will end up on HFJ.
As for the mega issue you raise of how "the type designers" let the intellectual property of the whole industry free, let me know when that happens. I mean by that, that we have the tools required to find our fonts in use, and believe me, we do. What drm could not do, the internet provides for free.
So, I'm not sure about the "bend over and take it" refers to me, or anyone I grew up with or helped grow in this industry, as much as it applies to people compelled to work for "views" and the referrals from them, but that could be a simple generational thing.
And then the big question is why do type designers accept these systems of font delivery that allow such easy theft of their designs?