Programmers: license for SignWriting symbols (ISWA)

Steve Slevinski slevin at SIGNPUDDLE.NET
Mon May 28 13:38:07 UTC 2007

Hi Val and list,

I officially support releasing the PNG files, SVG files and future 
SignWriting fonts under the OFL.

One main concern we all have is that licensing can get complicated.  The 
rest of my email will validate this concern.  However, licensing is 
needed in the  world today.  Specifically, people need to know what they 
can do and what they can't do without having to email Val all the time.


In response to Sandy...

There are several types of official font files for computer use.  One 
version specifically uses SVG data.

 From Wikipedia, a font "is a coordinated set of glyphs designed with 
stylistic unity. A [font] usually comprises an alphabet of letters, 
numerals, and punctuation marks;"

 From Wikipedia, "a glyph is the shape given in a particular [font] to a 
specific grapheme or symbol."

I font is defined by an idea, not by how it's packaged.

I consider the SignWriting alphabet to be a real alphabet.  And I 
consider our current PNG version to be a stylistic representation of 
that alphabet; hence a font.

 From the OFL Preamble:
The goals of the Open Font License (OFL) are to stimulate worldwide
development of collaborative font projects, to support the font creation
efforts of academic and linguistic communities, and to provide a free and
open framework in which fonts may be shared and improved in partnership
with others.

The OFL allows the licensed fonts to be used, studied, modified and
redistributed freely as long as they are not sold by themselves. The
fonts, including any derivative works, can be bundled, embedded,
redistributed and/or sold with any software provided that any reserved
names are not used by derivative works.

The first definition in the OFL:
"Font Software" refers to the set of files released by the Copyright
Holder(s) under this license and clearly marked as such."

Both the PNG and SVG versions are a set of files and meet the spirit on 
the OFL.  There is no stipulation about the packaging of the font, so I 
don't see a problem here.

The OFL states that the set of files "may include source files, build 
scripts and documentation."

What does "may" mean?  If the "may" means "perhaps", as in the set of 
file could include (but is not limited to) source files, build scripts 
and documentation, then we're fine.  However, if the "may" means "may 
only", then we need to define the PNG and SVG files under either 1) 
source files, 2)build scripts, or 3)documentation. 

According to wikipedia, a "source file" is text and human readable.  
However, I don't think that's what they mean in the OFL.  Are all font 
packages text files and human readable?  I'm not an expert, but I'd have 
to say no.  If the accepted font files in use today can be called 
"source file", then I don't see a problem calling our PNG files "source 
files".  QED

The OFL seems like a fine license.  My only concern is with the 
statement "The fonts and derivatives,
however, cannot be released under any other type of license."  Does this 
mean no dual licensing?  So a font released under the OFL can not be 
released under any other license by the original copyright holder?  I 
believe this statement needs to be clarified in a future version of the OFL.

My 2 cents,

Sandy Fleming wrote:
>> SIL Open Font License
>> Our question to programmers who use SignWriting...
>> How do you feel about the OFL License?
>> If the SignWriting symbols are placed under the OFL License, will you  
>> feel free to use the symbols for your programming? That is what  
>> matters to me.
> I'm not sure about this.
> The site doesn't seem to define what it means by a "font". So far we
> have Val's PNG symbols and Machado's SVG symbols. Do either of these
> count as a font? It would seem to me that the PNG would come under som
> sort of images license and the the SVGs under some sort of software
> license.
> In the "Working Model" diagram, the site talks about "Other software
> product bundled for specific languages/scripts", but even so, what we
> have so far handles PNGs and SVGs, not fonts.
> Sandy
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