[Pkg-fonts-devel] Bug#492623: Bug#492623: ttf-liberation: Trademark prevents modifications

Nicolas Spalinger nicolas_spalinger at sil.org
Wed Jul 30 08:43:34 UTC 2008

Faidon Liambotis wrote:
> Ian Jackson wrote:
>>> Quoting the license:
>> ...
>>> If you modify the files, you must
>>>  - Rename the fonts to remove any reference to Liberation
>>>  - Not install the fonts as liberation
>>>  - Rename the binary package and the source package
>>>  - Change the description to remove all references to Liberation and
>>>    Red Hat.
> And much more importantly, a similar clause (albeit only for the 
> "reserved font name") is present in the Open Font License, under which 
> most of the free fonts are and which is accepted in Debian main.
> Regards,
> Faidon

Let me point out that this clause in the Liberation-specific agreement 
is really different from the Reserved Font Name clause in the OFL (in 
both spirit and letter).

The reserved font name mechanism in the OFL only applies to the primary 
font name as seen by the user whereas the Liberation agreement requires 
removing any reference and renaming packages.

Trademarks can exists alongside the licensed font. The OFL doesn't cover 

The OFL has been refined and validated through a long community review 
and is organisation and project-neutral unlike the Liberation agreement. 
The OFL is approved by the FSF and Debian and Fedora have had various 
OFL-ed font families in main for a while.

Also other recognized free software license also have some kind "please 
distinguish your derivative from upstream" clause:

Knuth indicated back in the days when creating Computer Modern that font 
derivative renaming is a must to avoid chaos. If we think about this 
issue in terms of DVCS and branches it's a reasonable expectation for a 
branch to advertise itself as such and not be mistaken for the trunk or 
another branch. That's not to say that no patches can flow between all 
of them rather the opposite. But releasing something different under the 
same name is a bad idea is lots of ways.

A light renaming clause and some name protection mechanisms constitute 
the necessary nexus to make designers comfortable with allowing 
unlimited modifications of their creations and creating a collaborative 
open font community which can improve fonts while not messing up user 

BTW through the weekly font review we're working on tackling the 
non-free fonts bugs in Debian:


Nicolas Spalinger

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