[Scribus] Re: GPLed fonts

Craig Ringer craig
Mon Apr 18 07:33:01 CEST 2005

Gregory Pittman wrote:

> A lot of this is quite absurd.

Now that, I can agree with.

>  I think the only question about the use of a GPL'd font has to do 
> with the software that uses that font software, e.g., Scribus.

I don't personally agree, much as I wish I could. On the other hand, the 
questions "does it matter" and "will anybody actually care" should be 
considered. That aside, being careful is usually wise.

> I have no doubt that a very clear legal distinction can be made 
> between the software that renders a document and the creative aspect 
> of the document -- its design, layout, the verbal content of the text 
> that may have been rendered in one kind of font or another.  What you 
> in a way are trying to suggest is that the GPL has extended itself to 
> the letters of the alphabet -- I really don't think that anyone gets 
> the rights to the alphabet.

Not at all. The issue being discussed was largely with font embedding, 
where the issue is the font code it self not its visual appearance.

> All of the nail-biting going on is very much in line with the kind of 
> FUD that Microsoft likes to stir up when it talks about how bad 
> non-proprietary licenses are.  What really gripes Microsoft is that 
> the old days of simply stealing bits and chunks of others' code and 
> then copyrighting it doesn't seem so easy anymore.

I think we just strayed into reading-too-much-slashdot territory 
personally. There has been a discussion of the technical issues of 
whether the GPL /might/ apply to documents that use GPL fonts under some 
circumstances. I don't see how FUD entered into it anywhere - unless you 
are referring to the supremely enlightened discussion on Slashdot, 
rather than the conversation on this list. I may not have peppered my 
posts sufficiently with "but the chances are the authors don't care" 
etc, but I thought it fairly darn obvious really.

My personal view out of all this:
(a) There might be a technical issue with the license and font embedding 
under some circumstances - no lawyers have popped up to say
(b) Chances are nobody cares, and even if they do the chance of action 
on it seems utterly minute
(c) Keeping people informed isn't a bad idea anyway, so long as it's not 
alarmist and stupid (see: Slashdot).
(d) People shouldn't be using software licenses for other  works without 
careful consideration of the actual effects.

Craig Ringer

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