SIL OPEN FONT LICENSE Version 1.1 - 26 February 2007
The OFL allows the licensed fonts to be used, studied, modified and redistributed freely as long as they are not sold by themselves. The fonts, including any derivative works, can be bundled, embedded, redistributed and/or sold with any software provided that any reserved names are not used by derivative works. The fonts and derivatives, however, cannot be released under any other type of license. The requirement for fonts to remain under this license does not apply to any document created using the fonts or their derivatives.
This comes close to dancing around the Open Source Definition (http://opensource.org/osd.html/) I think. The restriction on "not sold by themselves" would seem to be a violation of the "No Restriction on Fields of Endeavor" requirement. But it's close.
It seems like a silly restriction anyway. What advantage would someone gain over Adobe by selling freely available fonts "by themselves" with no added value?
Well, sure. But these fonts are already open source. So who would buy it when they can get it for free from Adobe? This is like the resellers of free software on ebay. Sure, you can sell to a few dummies. And it's a little annoying. But it's not something that's going to hurt Adobe or its image meaningfully. Why bother polluting your license with this restriction?
One good reason to complain about the restriction would be that it's a potential violation of the open source definition and a GPL-incompatible "additional restriction" on redistribution. And because it's just dumb.
If there is no added value, by definition, there would not be an advantage for the buyer.
The only added values I can think of would be the traditional reason why people used to buy CDs with freely available software:
- the seller delivers the stuff cheaper than if the buyer downloaded it themselves (highly unlikely nowadays, but maybe there are corners of the world where this still applies)
- the seller acts as a curator, sifting the gold from the junk, so that the buyer need not do that.
The 'curator' role might still be worth something. For example, a site could have a link 'do you like the template/icons/font we use? Buy it here'. That would be forbidden by this license (but selling all three in a package, or even two fonts with this license in one package, would be fine, at least in a literal interpretation of the license)
A lack of fonts? No. A lack of high-quality, relatively-complete, free fonts? Absolutely.
Free fonts usually come in one width, two weights (regular and bold) and two styles (roman and italic), for a total of four variations, and usually cover the Latin alphabet plus a few relatively-common variants (accented characters for western European languages, and maybe a couple of additional characters like the the German eszett or the Icelandic eth).
Professional fonts will often come with perhaps five weights (light through black), three widths (condensed, normal, wide), and two styles, for a total of thirty variants. Some will also come in different optical sizes, or have other variable properties. Additionally, they'll have much larger character coverage (perhaps including Cyrillic or Greek), and have multiple stylistic variations of individual characters (stylistic alternates, swashes, old-style figures, etc.), as well as ligatures of commonly-colliding pairs of characters like "fi." Professional fonts can thus have literally thousands of times more glyphs, are very labor-intensive to produce, and are fairly expensive.
This font is certainly less rich than most of Adobe's "Pro" line of fonts, but still looks much better than a lot of what's out there in terms of open source type.
While I agree with your basic argument, I think you’re overstating the case a little. As services like Google Web Fonts have become popular, several very good, free, and reasonably comprehensive font families have become available.
For example, the most popular sans on GWF is currently Open Sans, which does come in a wider range of weights and has italic and condensed versions available. Unlike this new font family from Adobe, Open Sans also renders well on Windows, including Windows XP and including all major browsers when used as a web font.
I thought GWF were doing some processing to make the fonts work better on Windows? They way I understood it they were running the auto-hinter that Linux would use and then storing the hints inside the font for use by Windows. If that's true then the version hosted by Google (at least) should also look better than the complete disaster you get with entirely unhinted fonts at small sizes.
Plus, while there are a lot of 'free' fonts online most of them are licensed such that you can't embed them in your app. From my understanding (IANAL) the SIL open font licence DOES allow you to embed and redistribute.
No problem. I think any field that has a community of people devoted to it full time gets pretty intense after awhile. If you're still curious, check out some hangouts for type designers, like http://typophile.com/
The monospace version looks brilliant. Looks like something that could one day become my coding font. It's quite hard to find a nice monospace font and I think the choice does in fact matter (for coding obviously)
Because it's unclear with all the preamble, this is a release of 6 weights of the 'SourceSansPro' font in upright and italic styles. A monospace variant is a 'work in progress' that's not yet in the download package.
I don't do enough design to care about fonts, but I'll always take a chance at a new monospace font. Especially this one. Looks gorgeous. (The regular face looks good too, don't get me wrong, I just don't have good uses for it).
[[On an aside, I love this thread. A post about the license, geeking out about the font and even more specifically the monospaced fonts. No where else would I see this conversation. :)]]
edit: sorry to burst bubbles, the release/source doesn't include the monospaced variant yet.
Uh, sourceforge? When I hear "making these files available" I think github or a simple website. Not something with a download.com-style "Wait 5 seconds while we force this ad down your throat and try to find a mirror because Route 53 / load-balancing is a foreign concept to us programmers still hanging out in the '90s."
GitHub is more popular for code management of underpinnings (think jquerry, twitter backend stuff, etc) but SourceForge is far more popular for actual apps. Nearly all the most popular GitHub projects, if you click downloads, you're met with "There aren't any downloads yet. But don't worry! You can download the source code as a zip or tarball above." SourceForge, on the other hand, is all about apps, usually cross-platform, that users can download and use (VLC, Pidgin, GIMP-Windows+Mac, OpenOffice, Inkscape, KeePass, etc). So, I think GitHub is more popular with coders, but SourceForge is far more popular with users and app makers.