Programmers: license for SignWriting symbols (ISWA)

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Mon May 28 15:06:43 UTC 2007

SignWriting List
May 28, 2007

Hi Steve -
Thank you for this message. Your discussion below is just what I  
needed to understand. When they say font, they do not mean TrueType  
specifically, but instead it is a more general term for font, and so  
our ISWA could be licensed under the OFL, whether it is PNG or SVG or  
whatever format...Have I understood that correctly?

But your concern at the end of your message also concerns me...If we  
cannot license with a second license, does that mean if we have new  
software that uses the ISWA, and that software has another kind of  
license too, can the OFL be used inside that second license?;-))

I was thinking I could draft a Free SignWriting License, where I  
explain in detail what SignWriting is, and specify what people can  
and cannot do...which will be open, I assure you ;-))

The Free SignWriting License could encompass free use of SignWriting  
graphics, PNGs, SVGs, the Sutton Fonts, SignWriter DOS and Java  
source code, writing by hand, free downloading of photos and  
documents on the SignWriting-related web sites, and permission to  
publish using SignWriting.

I could write a first draft of this Free SignWriting License, and  
post it to the SW List for feedback...

If the OFL allowed us to use both, then the SignWriting symbols could  
be under both the OFL and the "SignWriting Free License"...

And since the SignWriting Free License will not be written in  
legalese, maybe people will feel less worried to write their signed  
languages after reading it on the web...It might take care of  
everyone's worries...

What do you think?  Val ;-)


On May 28, 2007, at 6:38 AM, Steve Slevinski wrote:

> 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.
> Regards,
> -Steve
> 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,
> -Steve
> Sandy Fleming wrote:
>>> SIL Open Font License 
>>> site_id=nrsi&id=OFL 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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