Programmers: license for SignWriting symbols (ISWA)

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Mon May 28 19:01:52 UTC 2007

SignWriting List
May 28, 2007

Hello Sandy and Everyone!
Your points are well-taken, Sandy...very interesting to read about  
all this!

And certainly all this will be taken into account now...and I will do  
my utmost to explain everything the best I can, and I hope with all  
your feedback we will find a document that explains everything and  
gives everyone the freedom they deserve...

I think it is wonderful we have different fonts for SignWriting...we  
already have several...the Woehrmann TrueType Fonts are excellent and  
they are also in a different artistic style...

And then there are two from Spain, by Steve Parkhurst

and then there are the bitmapped symbols that I personally have  
done...whether they are built into the SignWriter DOS program, or  
separate from any computer program as GIFs, PNGs etc...

But those are not the ISWA to me.

The ISWA is the sort-order, and the actual symbols  
themselves...before the ISWA did not have Ethiopian shapes for  
example, and now I will be adding them...

So the actual style of typeface isn't the point of the ISWA...The  
ISWA is the listing of the symbols themselves in a specific order,  
plus the actual symbols themselves...

The ISWA is the alphabet and the alphabetic order (Sign-Symbol- 
Sequence ;-)

and then the method of giving out those symbols, such as PNGs or SVG  
or TrueType is the least that is my terminology but I  
am open for making the terminology clearer!!

Smile...lots to think about!

Val ;-)

On May 28, 2007, at 11:42 AM, Sandy Fleming wrote:

> Val,
>> So the point of the Free SignWriting License would be to calm
>> everyone's fears and worries...more like a personal message from me,
>> rather than a legal document. We could refer people to that web page
>> whenever someone writes to ask...
> Don't forget that in order to preserve openness and freedom, you  
> have to
> stop other people from closing it. There are a lot of legal battles in
> the software industry due to companies simply noticing that something
> isn't licensed (or it is licensed but they try to pretend that they
> thought of it first), then taking a copy of it and copyrighting it for
> themselves.
> Outside of software, you may remember how in the past few years a
> company developed speed cameras that worked by averaging a car's speed
> over a certain stretch of road. The company that developed it didn't
> patent it because they didn't believe that patents were a good  
> thing. A
> Canadian lawyer spotted this and opened a patent on it for himself,  
> even
> though he hadn't done a stroke of work on it! This led to the
> introduction of averaging speed cameras being delayed for months while
> the legal problems were sorted out.
> This is the sort of thing the license has to prevent. It needs to say,
> in effect, that "You can copy this and change it in any way you want,
> but you have to issue your version under the same open license." This
> prevents anyone from closing the license and making SignWriting
> _theirs_.
> I think we need to be clear that SignWriting isn't a font. For  
> example,
> the ISWA pngs and Machado's SVGs look quite different on the page  
> and to
> my mind this makes them two different fonts. If Val and Machado both
> issue these under an open license, does this stop someone from issuing
> their own SignWriting fonts, some prettier, some more practical, some
> just bizarre in a fun way, and then copyrighting them so they can make
> money out of them? I think this should be allowed. As in the oral  
> world,
> we can have a million SignWriting fonts, some open, some closed, some
> free, some expensive, and some that nobody cares about  :)
> Sandy
>> And meanwhile using the OFL license is fine too...
>> I like your term "SignWriting Seal of Approval" - ha! Why not? That
>> sounds like a good way to show that a program is true to  
>> SignWriting...
>> Regarding the Roman Alphabet and freedom of speech...alphabets are
>> not concepts. They are not language per se. A, B and C do not give
>> you a language. They write many languages, but what a person says
>> using those languages, that just happens to use A, B and C to write
>> with, has nothing to do with A, B and C itself. So of course freedom
>> of speech has nothing to do with SignWriting. If a person writing ASL
>> wanted to swear and say bad things, of course the organization behind
>> the SignWriting symbols for the Index Finger, the Middle and Index
>> Finger and the Thumb, Middle and Index Finger has no control over
>> what an ASL person says, when writing those alphabetic  
>> characters ;-))
>> The reason this confuses people is that they do not know of one
>> inventor, or a group of inventors, of the Roman Alphabet, so they
>> cannot compare a currently developing alphabet with the Roman
>> Alphabet history...
>> If I write the Free SignWriting License with all of your help,
>> feedback and approval...then we should dispel some of this I hope!
>> Plus combine that with the OFL License and other possible
>> Licenses...and this issue will be resolved I hope!
>> So after my presentation on Thursday I will start writing that...
>> And thanks for your input everyone! I am really grateful for your
>> help with this...
>> Val ;-)
>> -------------
>> On May 28, 2007, at 8:52 AM, Steve Slevinski wrote:
>>> Hi Val,
>>> Valerie Sutton wrote:
>>>> 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?
>>> Yes.  That is my understanding as well.
>>>> 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?;-))
>>> Don't worry about this.  The OFL is only concerned with the font.
>>> Software that uses the font can be under any 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 ;-))
>>> It would probably be a good idea.
>>>> 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.
>>> Yes and no.  I think the Free SignWriting License should only
>>> include the SignWriting ideas and the SignWriting alphabet.  Adding
>>> specifics for fonts, software, images, and everything else will
>>> just complicate matters.  Besides, a license is different than what
>>> is released under the license.
>>>> I could write a first draft of this Free SignWriting License, and
>>>> post it to the SW List for feedback...
>>> Great idea, except that means more for you to do.  I think
>>> releasing the current fonts under the OFL would suffice for now.
>>>> If the OFL allowed us to use both, then the SignWriting symbols
>>>> could be under both the OFL and the "SignWriting Free License"...
>>> The PNGs and SVGs can be released under different licenses.  The
>>> SignWriting symbols are a different matter.
>>> I think the Free SignWriting License should encompass 3 distinct
>>> matters.
>>> The SignWriting name
>>> ----------------------------
>>> How are people allowed to use the name SignWriting?  Maybe you
>>> could come up with a seal of approval to let people know that what
>>> people are using or teaching is valid SignWriting.  I think it is
>>> important that people use the term SignWriting, but I also think it
>>> is important that people don't use the term incorrectly.
>>> The SignWriting ideas
>>> ----------------------------
>>> Can you copyright a writing system?  Does this infringe on freedom
>>> of speech?
>>> The SignWriting alphabet
>>> --------------------------------
>>> Your specific symbol sets are different than the specific fonts.
>>> Your alphabets are derived from the SignWriting ideas.
>>> So in regards to Sandy's program, it will not be concerned with the
>>> fonts or the OFL.  Will his program be allowed to use the
>>> SignWriting name?  From everything I've read, it should meet the
>>> qualifications for the SignWriting seal of approval.  His program
>>> will be based on the SignWriting ideas and alphabet.  He can
>>> copyright his program under any license that he wants, but his
>>> writing system will be a derived work.
>>> Which brings us to the complicated issue of derived works.  Under
>>> the OFL, people can create new fonts based on existing fonts.
>>> These new fonts must be issued under the OFL, and these new fonts
>>> can not use the name of the base font.
>>> But what of your writing system.  Can people make a derived writing
>>> system based on SignWriting?
>>> This is all very confusing.  I'd be interested in reading your
>>> initial draft of the Free SignWriting License.
>>> -Steve

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