[reportlab-users] Font licenses (in ReportLab 1.17)

Gregor Hoffleit reportlab-users@reportlab.com
Wed, 21 May 2003 16:04:20 +0200


[please keep me cc'ed, since I'm not subscribed to this list.]

while preparing the Debian packages for ReportLab 1.17, I noticed that
the licenses of the three fonts included (Luxi Sans, Rina and
LettErrorRobot Chrome) don't permit inclusion in the Debian

Therefore, I have to remove the fonts in ReportLab from both the source
tarball and the packages that we distribute. That's no big issue, since
they're only used in the test suite, in the userguide and in
docco/examples.py. I will see if I can find some decent replacement for
them in the fonts shipped with our distribution (although I have to
admit that there are not many decent Free fonts with an decorative

I don't expect that you'll remove the fonts from the ReportLab
distribution, but I would prefer if you could mention in README or in
license.txt that the license plate in license.txt does not apply to all
files in the ReportLab tarball (besides the fonts, there are several
files with other licenses as well).

Going into details:

The Debian GNU/Linux distribution includes only free software
(http://www.debian.org/social_contract.html). One aspect of this
definition of freedom is the freedom to distribute modifications, and
the freedom to sell the components.

Luxi Serif is distributed with XFree86, and still Debian doesn't
distribute it in its distribution, since its license doesn't permit

    The Font Software may not be modified, altered, or added to, and in
    particular the designs of glyphs or characters in the Fonts may not
    be modified nor may additional glyphs or characters be added to the
    Fonts.  This License becomes null and void when the Fonts or Font
    Software have been modified.

While there is some discussion about the application of Free Software
principle to fonts, Debian's current stance is that we can't ship fonts
with licenses as Luxi.

The license of Larabie Rina is even more restrictive: It doesn't permit
modification, and it doesn't permit to sell the font:

    Reproduction and Distribution. You may reproduce and distribute an
    unlimited number of copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT;  provided that
    each copy shall be a true and complete copy, including all copyright
    and trademark notices (if applicable) , and shall be accompanied by
    a copy of this text file.  Copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT may not be
    distributed for profit either on a standalone basis or included as
    part of your own product unless by prior permission of Larabie


    Restrictions on Alteration.  You may not rename, edit or create any
    derivative works from the SOFTWARE PRODUCT, other than subsetting
    when embedding them in documents unless you have permission from
    Larabie Fonts.

This is a main problem for all Linux distributors, even if they don't
care about Free Software principles as much as Debian does. They are not
allowed to include Rina in the products they sell.

For the LettErrorRobot Chrome font, I see no license at all. The
copyright notice of the fonts says

    (C) 1998-2001 LettError, Just van Rossum, Erik van Blokland,
so I guess Just gave his approval for shipping this font with ReportLab.
Still, it would be better if you could include some kind of note that
tells me if and how I am allowed to use and redistribute this font. I'm
pretty sure that LettError doesn't permit modification of the font
("free as in beer"), so I have to remove this font from the Debian
distribution as well, anyway.

A good reason why the freedom the modify fonts makes sense at all is
obvious for Germans: Many freeware (free as in beer) fonts don't include
German umlauts. If we had the freedom to add glyphs, then a talented
designer could add the missing glyphs.

Thanks for your efforts,