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Dave Crossland


Dave Crossland
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Admin James Puckett
  • Re: [OTVar] Introducing OpenType variable fonts

  • Re: Font EULAs - “Large Volume Commercial Uses”

    Please can you confirm that in every instance, every license self-identifies by its definition as "libre" ... What does FLOSS encompass? ... Please can you clarify how a user can assure that the license is "libre", rather than any non-libre alternative. 
    A license can not self-identify using its own definition of "libre," because it lacks the social authority to do so. 

    That authority lies with 2 organisations: the Free Software Foundation, and the Open Source Initiative. 

    Each has its own definitive list of which licenses it considers 'libre' or 'open source' and they are not the same lists.

    So, FLOSS encompasses any software distributed under a license that exists on both lists.

    can be used commercially, free-of-charge, without further action including embedding, modification and hosting across distributions?
    There are also definitions of what kinds of permissions will encourage the FSF and OSI to add a license to their lists:

    Most libre licenses include what are very broad permissions in comparison to EULAs, but libre licenses almost always have some kind of requirements, so "without further action" isn't quite right.  
    For example, fonts available under the LaTeX catalogue follow a variety of licenses that may be copyleft without exception – it is not always immediately obvious. 
    I believe by 'the LaTeX catalogue' you mean; that site distributes proprietary freeware that the TeX community is able to redistribute but not modify. 

    I've found CTAN to provide adequate licensing information; I'm happy to check out anything you found confusing :) 

    Please can you also clarify the termination clause of the OFL v1.1 license, in terms of actual legal risk? For example, if the licensee uses a modified version online but fails to include or link to the copyright notice and licensing information.
    Non-lawyers can not advise anyone on actual legal risks :)

    The termination clause says that if Johnny does not comply with the requirements, his violation of the rightsholders' rights causes his license to be terminated - and this means that he then needs to secure another license from the copyright holders of the work, and until he does so, in theory he no longer has any permission to even retain copies of the fonts...

    However, in practice, there are 2 classes of violators, that we might call willful and forgetful. 

    If Johnny is forgetful, he just didn't understand that he made a mistake, then as soon as he is alerted, he comes into compliance. Usually then the copyright holders say they are giving him a new license on the same terms, and its back to business as usual :) 

    If Johnny is willfully violating though, he will continue to violate until he is forced into compliance by the persuasion of his legal team, or by a court. 

    There have not, as far as I know, been any court cases around the OFL. However, if they were, I would expect the prosecution to follow The Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement:
    these types of license – theoretically – could be subject to updates?
    Some libre licenses, like the libre Creative Common licenses and the Mozilla Public License, have in their main text an 'or any later version' clause, which allows a licensee at their discretion to 'upgrade' their license to a later version when one becomes available. 

    The GNU project recommends including such a 'or later version' permission in the license notice, but there is no such clause in the GPL license texts themselves.

    But unlike a EULA, a libre license can't be subject to 'forced updates' or revoked. 
  • Re: Font EULAs - “Large Volume Commercial Uses”

    thus terminating the agreement
    Copyright licenses are not agreements; they can't be terminated like this. 
    The habit of challenging the IP owners' interpretation of their license doesn't seem particularly productive or fair. 

    Like in all areas of business, there are some shady companies who try to pull the wool over their customers eyes. 

    Designing fonts since university, nearing retirement, specific experience in font enforcement, copious stories of legal risk, threat, fine and action in fonts across organizations. To me, this sounds like someone who has experience.
    Experience which may led them astray, because libre licenses don't work like EULAs and porting the experience with EULAs to libre licensed causes mistakes :) 
  • Re: Webfont vertical metrics strategies

    I want to confirm that was the vertical metrics policy, but as Khaled says, this is being revised, so I've just updated that file to point to the new policy's development in this googlefonts-discuss thread in the last weeks :)

    Ray, could you describe it here?
  • Re: Copyright Ownership

    Works created with open source software are almost never subject to the license terms of the software
    This is true. The minority of cases are where a copyleft licensed program copies parts of itself into its output, and therefore its output is under copyright a derivative work. 

    An old example is GNU Bison. The license for that project was updated to provide additional permission (an 'exception') to the permissions in the regular GNU GPL to allow for the output to be licensed under terms incompatible with the GPL.  

    The Bison manual explains:
    Conditions for Using Bison

    The distribution terms for Bison-generated parsers permit using the parsers in nonfree programs. Before Bison version 2.2, these extra permissions applied only when Bison was generating LALR(1) parsers in C. And before Bison version 1.24, Bison-generated parsers could be used only in programs that were free software.

    The other GNU programming tools, such as the GNU C compiler, have never had such a requirement. They could always be used for nonfree software. The reason Bison was different was not due to a special policy decision; it resulted from applying the usual General Public License to all of the Bison source code.

    The main output of the Bison utility—the Bison parser implementation file—contains a verbatim copy of a sizable piece of Bison, which is the code for the parser’s implementation. (The actions from your grammar are inserted into this implementation at one point, but most of the rest of the implementation is not changed.) When we applied the GPL terms to the skeleton code for the parser’s implementation, the effect was to restrict the use of Bison output to free software.

    We didn’t change the terms because of sympathy for people who want to make software proprietary. Software should be free. But we concluded that limiting Bison’s use to free software was doing little to encourage people to make other software free. So we decided to make the practical conditions for using Bison match the practical conditions for using the other GNU tools.

    This exception applies when Bison is generating code for a parser. You can tell whether the exception applies to a Bison output file by inspecting the file for text beginning with “As a special exception…”. The text spells out the exact terms of the exception.

    So yes, it is indeed possible that a macro or extension with a copyleft license could form a combined and thus derivative work with a generated font. 

    But it is much more likely that a macro or extension with a restrictive license would effect generated fonts, because libre software is subject only to copyright licenses, while restricted software is typically subject both to copyright and to contracts; it is easy to make a contract term that says all rights adhering to work that is output by the software is assigned to the software owner, and when combined with the now-common arbitration terms in restricted software contracts, you will have no recourse in the public courts. 

    Such clauses are much more common in software licenses that feed publishing networks.