Font EULAs - “Large Volume Commercial Uses”

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  • I apologise, my terminology has been incorrect. I'll try to improve this in future.

    Clarity
    @Dave Crossland Please can you confirm that in every instance, every license self-identifies by its definition as "libre" can be used commercially, free-of-charge, without further action including embedding, modification and hosting across distributions? What does FLOSS encompass? Please can you clarify how a user can assure that the license is "libre", rather than any non-libre alternative. 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. 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.

    @Malcolm Wooden Please forgive the ignorance. You describe SIL, IPA, and GNU as separate to "libre" licenses. If so, does that mean that these types of license – theoretically – could be subject to updates?

    We use fonts available from SIL and some Google fonts for two strong reasons:
    • Broad character sets, or licenses that permit modification, without restriction across distributions that are essential to our workflow;
    • Ability to assure access, modification and broad permissions between "the many cooks in the kitchen", e.g. illustrators, freelancers and authors.
    These may encourage usage elsewhere to achieve a consistent visual language.
  • 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.

    https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.en.html

    https://opensource.org/licenses

    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:

    https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.en.html

    https://opensource.org/osd-annotated

    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 CTAN.org; 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:

    https://sfconservancy.org/copyleft-compliance/principles.html
    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. 
  • Fairness must go both ways. The font designer should not get underpaid, but also not get overpaid. Restrictions in a desktop license, can be considered as a way to prevent underpaying the font designer. The Digital Ads license for Web fonts, can be considered as a way to prevent overpaying the font designer. 

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