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

Andy Robinson reportlab-users@reportlab.com
Thu, 22 May 2003 15:35:36 +0100

> -----Original Message-----
> From: reportlab-users-admin@reportlab.com
> [mailto:reportlab-users-admin@reportlab.com]On Behalf Of Gregor Hoffleit
> Sent: 21 May 2003 15:04
> To: reportlab-users@reportlab.com
> Cc: flight@debian.org
> Subject: [reportlab-users] Font licenses (in ReportLab 1.17)
> Hi,
> [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
> distribution.
> 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
> character).
> 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).

I'll never understand all the reasoning between licenses,
but here's what seems practical:

(1) LettError Robot-Chrome coes from Just van Rossum, Guido's
brother.  It is a crippled font (missing glyphs) which he has given 
us for an explicit and visually obvious example of font embedding.
I will ask him if he minds a Debian-compliant disclaimer
and if he's happy it can be shipped.

(2) Can you find any other Debian-compliant Type 1
or TrueType fonts for us, which could be used instead?
They only need a few glyphs ("hello" would do).

(3) We can have a readme in there or warning in
the tests so it degrades gracefully.

When is your next release date?  I presume you want a released
version and we are long overdue for a release.

- Andy


> 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
> modifications:
>     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
>     Fonts.
>     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,
>     http://www.letterror.com/
> 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,
>     Gregor
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