In reply to Sandy Fleming

GerardM gerard.meijssen at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 29 05:49:03 UTC 2007

In essence there are the SignWriting fonts created by Valerie. They can be
copyrighted and are copyrighted. All the later iterations are in essence a
derivation. It is for this reason that it is so important that these
characters / glyphs are licensed in such a way that everyone is empowered to
create new iterations of these glyphs.

When a license is chosen that does not allow for the freedom to improve
them, create new fonts, it is not unlikely that a court will allow for it
any way because the basic character set is essential for the writing of sign
languages. With a license that has as its intent to allow for the freedom to
improve on the basic idea, it will be possible to define limits to this
freedom when it is thought to be a good idea.

A program that combines the basic shapes in SignWriting needs a license for
the program. The characters it produces are in essence derivations of the
original SignWriting characters. The way you break these characters down in
its essential parts in order to build one character at a time represents an
algorithm. This algorithm could be patented if it is thought to be
non-obvious. Applying for such a patent seems ludicrous to me because it is
rather obvious. It is done to some extend in Unicode and this is what is
called "prior art".

You can design different basic shapes that fit together and that can be
manipulated by your program. One such a set could be called a font.
Depending on the copyright and the license of the upstream material, you are
able to select a license.

It seems obvious to me that with SignWriting seeking more people to write
their sign language, it is relevant to allow people use the SignWriting
characters and fonts, the software  and material as freely as possible. In
this way you grow an ecosystem that will be of benefit to the whole
community. It seems to me that SignWriting is the best defence that sign
languages have. It gains strength in the number of people able to write and
promote their sign language.


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