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Microsoft Typography Withdraws Free Web Fonts 649

Posted by timothy
from the kindness-of-strangers dept.
jonadab writes: "Microsoft Typography has for years provided a set of very nice True-Type fonts for free-as-in-without-monetary-cost, including the excellent Andale Mono (the only scalable fixed-width font I really like). They are gone. Here is the Microsoft page where they formerly were, which now tersely explains that they're not available any longer. There is an article about this on extremetech. According to the article, Microsoft says the withdrawal of the fonts at about the same time as the LinuxWorld is coincidence. The article also references a Debian package that has been removed from the distro because of this. If I understand my rumours correctly, it was a package that downloaded the fonts from MS, displayed their EULA, and allowed the user to extract and install the fonts. It was possible to do the same thing using other distros. Guess it's time for the OSS people to make some decent-looking scalable both-screen-and-printer fonts (preferably TrueType). At minimum, we need nice-looking serif proportional (to replace Verdana), a sans proportional (to replace Georgia), and a mostly-sans fixed (to replace Andale Mono), all with good language support. This should have been done a long time ago, since the MS fonts were, albeit $0, not licensed in an open fashion. We always knew we were relying on MS Typography's generosity, and that these could disappear at any time. But now the need is more urgent."
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Microsoft Typography Withdraws Free Web Fonts

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  • Luxi fonts? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CajunArson (465943) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:26AM (#4092550) Journal
    Having just done a big bunch of font changes
    (on my Gentoo machine, Helvetica won't anti-alias, so I had to reconfigure KDE) I noticed the Luxi fonts that aren't from MS, but
    they do look pretty nice, and they scale and anti-alias well, could they be used as a base for
    more fonts.

    I personally would like a replacement for the
    Comic-sans MS font (personal preference I know).
    Since I've already got the fonts, looks like they're getting burned to CD for future use!
    • by l-ascorbic (200822) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @02:10PM (#4093196)

      ...should be taken out and shot. Personal prefernce I know, but years of seeing shitty PowerPoint presentations and Word documents laid out in it have convinced me it's the sloppiest, ugliest, most unprofessional-looking typeface there is. It's not even good for lettering comic books.


      The only good use i've seen for it was when I got a credit card in the mail. It was in an envelope, badly printed with my address in blue Comic Sans. Inside that envelope was the real one, a regular windowed envelope marked "disguised mail". The Comic Sans had done a good job looking unprofessional, to hide the fact it was a letter from the bank.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What open source tools can I use?
    • Tools for you (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:40AM (#4092610)
      I found a nice program a couple of days ago.

      Try pfaedit [sf.net]. It supports TTF fonts as well as bitmap fonts and has a lot of good features. It supports simple latin-1 fonts as well as unicode fonts and author seems to really know what he's doing since website tells a lot about differences and inner workings of different font types. Pfaedit seems to try its best to convert everything necessary so user doesn't have to worry about them too much.

      It is a work in progress but I think good artists can make miracles with it. Website also has good documentation altough I think in-program documentation could be a bit better (just to know where to start). I tried it myself a bit but since I'm no artist..

      Website also links to other free font editors but pfaedit seems to be most mature. Most of others only support bitmap fonts.
    • by karm13 (538402) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:46AM (#4092632) Homepage
      i know this sounds troll, but if you don't know which tools to use you are not the right person to do this.

      designing fonts is not rocket science, but it comes pretty close. typography might even be the equivalent of rocket science in design.
      what we certainly don't need is hundrets of people making up amateur open source fonts, but a few people who know what they're doing.

      what might be possible is to find and old font (most common fonts are quite old, and the other good fonts usually are based on them), or a former-eastern-block font and reconstruct it. but you still need quite some experience to do this. i personally wouldn't even try.

      • by wfrp01 (82831) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:59AM (#4092693) Journal
        You're right of course. However, making font design tools widely available is still a good idea. If we want more good fonts, then we need more good designers. And if we want more good designers, then we need to give people who aren't designers yet the tools to get there.

        What do you think Hermann Zapf's first font looked like? Probably horrible.
      • by bwt (68845) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @12:35PM (#4092796) Homepage
        we certainly don't need is hundrets of people making up amateur open source fonts, but a few people who know what they're doing

        I disagree. I think hundreds of people making up amateur fonts is exactly what we need. After a while, a few of these people will get really good at it, and then we'll have the latter half. Meanwhile, and more importantly, a font design sub-culture will have been established.

        The only way to learn rocket science is to DO rocket science. I have never, ever seen a difficult field that could be learned any better than by just flat out trying to do it and puzzling through every obstacle.
        • by eggboard (315140) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @02:12PM (#4093199) Homepage
          Hundreds of people learning to make fonts won't result in good fonts, just hundreds of people frustrated at the amount of time they wasted in making fonts nobody uses.

          Designing fonts from scratch takes years to learn; even copying fonts takes quite a while. I've worked with type designers and have, in fact, created my own fonts, one of which is a rendition of an older font (from the 30s) called Albertus.

          It's a tedious process even with good tools. It's mostly about drawing and then matching those drawings to PostScript-possible splines.

          Unlike kernel development or software collaboration, in which hundreds of people can each contribute something that winds up in the final results (or even tens of thousands), font design is a lonely profession with lots of abandoned work.
        • Hey,

          I think hundreds of people making up amateur fonts is exactly what we need.

          The problem with having lots of fonts is I have trouble keeping more than about 3 fonts in my memory. Specifically, I know of 'system' (fixed width), 'times new roman' (normal writing) and 'arial' (sans-serif normal).

          My fonts folder has no less than 463 fonts. I don't need more fonts - I need a few select, high quality fonts.

          The only way to learn rocket science is to DO rocket science.

          Um... it's conventionally learned by years of study in school and university, leading to a degree in Physics, before you even approach a real rocket.

          The font Times New Roman [everything2.com] took two years to design, and considerable research into legibility and readability.

          Anyway, here's my point: Designing a good font takes years of practice and experience. Hundreds of amuteurs producing mostly chaff only makes sorting out the wheat harder.

          Just my $0.02,

          Michael
          • by orthogonal (588627) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @03:28PM (#4093572) Journal
            Sounds like a genetic algorithm might work well, with a human viewer providing the fitness test.

            Given that having a human decide the fitness of each generation will increase generation times, we could speed it up again by enlisting all those hundreds of amateurs who can presumably recognize a good font even if they can't produce one.

            The difficulty would not be producing the individual letters, but keeping the "look and feel" consistent across all characters in a font set. The genetic algorithm's "genes" (units of iinheiritance) would have to consist of higher level abstraction, such as "serif" or "bold" or "elongated". These higher abstractions would then be applied to create a character set with a consistent look, perhaps in a way analogous to embryogenesis.
      • what we certainly don't need is hundrets of people making up amateur open source fonts, but a few people who know what they're doing. How those people who know what they are doing know what they are doing? I they had to start somewhere, right? So go ahead people, release your fonts, mark it version 0.01, and keep improving it. Someone might even pick it up and improve it. Once it gets version 0.05, it's gonna look a lot nicer. Once it gets verseion 1.0, you will be one of those who know what they are doing
      • by Tom7 (102298)
        Making really nice fonts is tough (even after making 65, I still don't really have the patience to make ones that are appropriate for large bodies of text!). But there's no reason why we shouldn't have more people making fonts. Check out my tutorial,

        http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/~twm/makefont/ [cmu.edu]

      • Font Copyrights (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jeff Fohl (597433)

        Just an FYI on font copyrights. The US copyright office does not allow anyone to copyright a font. They are afraid that someone will try to use it to copyright the alphabet, so that whenever someone uses the letter "A", they will demand a royalty.

        The way font copyrights work is that the the software that renders the font is copyrightable intellectual property. Or rather, the code that that makes up the Open Type or True Type version of Helvetica is copyrighted, but not Helvetica itself, as an image. So, it is perfectly OK to to reconstruct any previously designed font, including any in the MS library. Of course, this is easier said than done. A deep knowledge of fonts, their inner structures, and the way to configure them for use on computers is a high art, and takes years to master. Fonts that are not executed well, even copies of pre-existing fonts, will show their flaws fairly quickly, so I wouldn't worry too much about unskilled artisans producing bad versions. The cream will rise to the top. Besides, it is a good reason for anyone to introduce themselves to the world of typography.

        "Anyone who would letterspace lower case would steal sheep." (Frederic Goudy)

    • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:50AM (#4092653) Homepage
      Well, software isn't even the main obstacle. Designing a font is a huge amount of work, and requires lots of special training. The best typography is done by people who have devoted their lives to it. For that reason, it probably makes more sense to start from font designs that are already free-as-in-something, and just translate them into formats that are open and not patent-restricted [sourceforge.net].

      Also, remember that you aren't just designing an ASCII character set. You need a math font, such as the STIX project [slashdot.org], and what about Chinese, Arabic,...?.

      Anyway, to answer your question, Knuth's Metafont is a standard part of TeX [tug.org]. It's a special-purpose programming language for designing scalable fonts. Way ahead of its time! The problem is that its output isn't in any modern format. There are various conversion tools, but I don't know how good they are (pktrace, textrace, ps2mf, Mathkit,mktekpk).

      There are also some free font-design tools that I know even less about: PfaEdit [sourceforge.net], TTX (converts between TT and XML, so you can edit by hand).

    • Is MetaFont open source? It's certainly free.
    • Serif vs Sans-Serif (Score:2, Informative)

      by hithro (122746)
      Not to be nit-picky, but, Verdanda is a Sans-Serif font. (note the lack of serifs, the pointy bits at the end of characters). Georgia is a Serif face. The reason that both of these faces are so well regarded is that the hinting in them (that is the instructions that tell your OS how to handle scaling up and down a face at screen resolution) is amazingly well done.
  • hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Em Emalb (452530) <ememalb@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:27AM (#4092555) Homepage Journal
    "In a statement, a spokesman for Microsoft said that the company withdrew the free fonts for several reasons. "Most users who wanted the fonts have downloaded them already," a company spokesman wrote in an email to ExtremeTech. "They ship with recent OS's - Windows XP and Mac OS (via Internet Explorer). Microsoft has also found that the downloads were being abused - repackaged, modified and shipped with commercial products in violation of the EULA [licensing agreement]."

    So, everyone who already wanted them had downloaded them, they come with XP and OS X, and people were abusing them.--Damned OSS hippies ;) (joking, joking, out down the chair)

    Didn't know you could determine that everyone who needed them already had them. Interesting. I'd like to see the metric used to determine that.
    • Met no metric (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816)
      Didn't know you could determine that everyone who needed them already had them. Interesting. I'd like to see the metric used to determine that.
      Well, yeah that's patently absurd, especially since the fonts were meant for web developers, not end users. MS wasn't just being generous -- they wanted people to write web pages with embedded fonts, thus increasing users' dependence on Internet Explorer. So they commissioned a bunch of fonts that emphasized on-screen usability, as opposed to the print-only or print-and-screen usability of most fonts.

      It's true that Andalé Mono [fonts.com] is very good fixed-width font. I particularly like the way it makes it hard to confuse l with 1, 0 with O, etc. And yes, it scales very well. The first thing I do when configuring any app that uses fixed with fonts -- Xterm, console text editors, IDEs, web browsers -- is to replace the usual Courier or system font with Andalé Mono. Which is not all what MS intended, and mostly illegal. Imagine my dismay!

      One quibble with this font is that multiple underbars form a continuous line, which makes source code slightly harder to read. I keep looking for a free font that lacks this problem. But that mostly means amateur efforts, which rarely scale well.

      Microsoft may be less a culprit here than AGFA [agfamonotype.com] and the other companies that licensed these fonts to them. AGFA charges 22 bucks for each download of Andalé Mono, and no doubt they licensed the font with the understanding that it'd only be used for specific purposes. When it became clear that everybody and anybody was downloading these fonts for all kinds of purposes, MS either had to pony up more licensing fees, or withdraw the fonts. Hardly suprising they did the latter.

  • by JamesKPolk (13313) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:28AM (#4092560) Homepage
    I once mailed GNU, asking them what they're doing about fonts, but got no reply.

    Good fonts are important for the usability of a computer system. And even if GNU doesn't make the fonts themselves, GNU seems to be the project that would create the tools needed to make fonts, just as GNU provides their make and compiler and debugger to developers worldwide.
    • No Free Beer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @05:50PM (#4094156) Homepage Journal
      I think you've missed the point of the whole "software wants to be free" rap. You don't get software by saying "I want it!" and waiting for somebody else to develop it. You get it by volunteering to help develop it, and the collective resources of the "free" software community naturally increase due to the spirit of volunteerism.

      Of course, there isn't exactly a glut of such volunteers. But you can't condemn a system for one little flaw!

  • by Krapangor (533950) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:30AM (#4092569) Homepage
    Won't be missed.
    I never got these fonts working with lynx or vi.
  • The web fonts were released so people can design sites which look sharper and nicer, such as the Verdana font. Others, like Georgia is "bordering on trendiness", as someone else put it.

    And yet, Slashdot, the site that posted this news, is still using Times New Roman.. ironic.
    • Blockquoth the poster:

      And yet, Slashdot, the site that posted this news, is still using Times New Roman.. ironic

      Why? I happen to like Times New Roman. I don't like many of the "hipper" fonts people tout. This isn't meant to be a flame... I seriously want to know why people have moved away from TNR.
      • Why?

        If you're asking why it's ironic, it's because the web fonts' primary purpose (I believe) was to move away from the classic fonts like TNR.

        If you're asking why people started to move away - it's a matter of style. Just like you don't often see advertisements with serif-text.
      • by bziman (223162) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:48AM (#4092643) Homepage Journal
        And yet, Slashdot, the site that posted this news, is still using Times New Roman.. ironic

        Actually, I would imagine that Slashdot is one of the very few sites that doesn't suck, and uses what ever fonts your browser specifies. Of course, since I have fonts disabled, I only see Times New Roman and Courier New in my browser anyway.

        <RANT>

        Do any of you adults out there remember when Tim Berners Lee came up with this stuff, and how HTML was just supposed to be a recommendation on how to present the data, and not a formal definition of what it's supposed to look like? Hmmm? If you develop a site and you want it to look a specific way (then you're... nm), then use flash or pdf or postscript. But if you give me HTML, I'm going to render it the way I want to see it rendered.

        </RANT>

        -brian

        • Serif fonts are nice. The little serif bits (like the ornament on an uppercase T) make it easier for the eye to follow over long passages in type, which is why most newpapers and books are set in serif faces. These serif faces are derived from Roman carved typography such as Trajan's colunm. Sans serif faces (without serif) start appearing in the 19th century, and were orginally known as grotesque faces.

          However, scale a serif font down to 10 points (72 points in an inch), then draw it at 72dpi on a monitor, and the curved ornaments become a single pixel which do nothing for readability. How fast do you read words on a screen compared to words on a page? Yup, there really is a measurable difference. Good antialiasing helps, but you're still nowhere close to the detail you would see at the same size on paper. Even well designed serif fonts such as Helvetica or Gill Sans are hard to read small on low resolution screens. This is why MS comissioned the MS web fonts, and they really are OK on screen. Surprise yourself, try them in your HTML 1.0 browser.
      • I seriously want to know why people have moved away from TNR.

        Because it's harder to read, at least for me (and apparently others). I find sans-serif fonts like Arial much easier to read.

        • Resolution. Serif fonts are very bad at low resolution. Sans-serif fonts are like cartoon stick figures and can be very readable at lousy resolutions. Good serif fonts depend on a continually varying line width which requires extremely high resolution to duplicate. (Shades of grey (Antialiasing) helps somewhat.) Look at newsprint under a compound magnifying glass sometime.
    • And yet, Slashdot, the site that posted this news, is still using Times New Roman.. ironic.

      No, not ironic. Slashdot does not still use Times New Roman. Your web browser still defaults to Times New Roman. I have my default font on my MS box set to Tahoma, and Slashdot renders in Tahoma and is much easier to skim because of it. If anything, Slashdot's solution is the "most open" solution.

      The real question is, "Why are you still using Times New Roman, when other better web reading fonts are out there?"
    • If it doesn't render right with the default font (or any reasonable font selected by the user), it's broken.

      Relying on specific fonts for pages to render correctly is just asking for breakage -- and the FONT tag is deprecated, anyhow.
    • You web whipper snappers have it so easy. Back in my day we had only 3 fonts:
      • Times
      • Helvetica
      • Courier
      And we we grateful... Oh course those are back in the days when you had to do hex math in your head, and walk uphill to school both ways. Circa 1999.

      To tell you the truth, I've never strayed away from the big 3 on any project. I tend to write stuff that has to look good on browsers dating back to the birth of the net. (Never know what version of Netscape those crudgy old kiosks are using.)

      My stuff is ugly by design damnit.

  • LICENSE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jmd! (111669) <jmd@NosPAM.pobox.com> on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:33AM (#4092580) Homepage
    1. GRANT OF LICENSE. This EULA grants you the following rights:

    * Installation and Use. You may install and use an unlimited number of
    copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT.

    * 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, and shall be accompanied by a copy of this EULA. Copies of the
    SOFTWARE PRODUCT may not be distributed for profit either on a standalone
    basis or included as part of your own product.

    So uhm, looks like I can distribute it without charge. Someone give me a place to stash 1.5M:

    -rw-r--r-- 1 jmd jmd 1524606 Dec 7 2000 truetype.tar.gz
    • Re:LICENSE (Score:5, Interesting)

      by erikdalen (99500) <erik.dalen@mensa.se> on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:46AM (#4092634) Homepage
      They're already distributed here [sourceforge.net]

      (An easy way to install Microsoft's TrueType core fonts on linux)

      /Erik

    • Re:LICENSE (Score:3, Interesting)

      by justsomebody (525308)
      AS I read EULA of the fonts there are two conclusions.

      1. Distributed packages must be exe files.
      2. Everything else is not important.

      It's truth that MS has included part where they have rights to cancel license, but only to a vendor that doesn't respect distribution demands. That means "Original packages".

      About the place, sourceforge or freshmeat would be much better than some personal page.

      So making a Wine installer and redistributing original packages is what it should be done. MS hasn't specified cancelation of the package, except in terms of wrong distribution. RPMs, DEBs are excluded.

      Conclusion, it's time to make a nice sourceforge page, where are all packages in the correct and demanded form. Make a nice .sh installer that downloads specific web font installer (that extracts and installs trough wine) and installs them to a system.

      EASY! I'm starting it already. But then again...
      Is there something what I'm missing or it's time to start this project? That would be appreciated.
  • The familiar distro (for ARM based PDAs, mostly iPaq's) counted on this heavily I believe, for your handheld.
  • Not to Nitpick... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Archie Steel (539670) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:34AM (#4092584)
    ...but Georgia is the serif font, and Verdana is the sans serif (the serif being to little line thingies at the top and bottom of the letters).

    Anyway, this is bad news indeed - I believe it's aimed squarely at Codeweaver's Crossover programs, making them less usable by removing the possibility of downloading fonts. IANAL, but can't someone just take the original font, change it by a specified amount, and re-release it as a replacement font?
    • Taking the original font, modifying it, and publishing it is a violation of copyright - the new font would be a derivative work, well beyond the boundary of "fair use".

      The solution here is to adopt any of a number of true-type fonts that are in the public domain. I had a CD-ROM of them once, and I still use "blackletter686.ttf", a sort of olde english font, to make the words "Last Will and Testament"
      look more official looking.

  • Font Editor (Score:5, Informative)

    by sunya (101612) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:35AM (#4092592) Homepage
    PFAEdit [sourceforge.net] is a sophisticated graphical editor for designing and editing Postscript fonts.
  • CrossOver Office uses this to install necessary MS fonts, and the office-support mailing list has been buzzing about this lately.

    For a while, the fonts were still available here [microsoft.com], but I just checked it and it looks like they were taken down from there too.

    • Re:Still available (Score:3, Informative)

      by madburn (35976)
      These fonts are still available on the Wayback Machine [archive.org]. Just paste in the font URL from this story and go to the old page. Select "from the current server" to download.

      Since the EULA allows for unlimited redistribution I have to think this is a legally acceptable method for acquiring these fonts, no?
  • by Soft (266615) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:36AM (#4092595)
    According to /usr/share/doc/msttcorefonts/READ_ME!.gz on Debian Woody machines:
    1. GRANT OF LICENSE. This EULA grants you the following rights:
    Installation and Use. You may install and use an unlimited number of
    copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT.
    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, and shall be accompanied by a copy of this EULA. Copies of the
    SOFTWARE PRODUCT may not be distributed for profit either on a standalone basis
    or included as part of your own product.
    2. DESCRIPTION OF OTHER RIGHTS AND LIMITATIONS.
    [...]
    Software Transfer. You may permanently transfer all of your rights
    under this EULA, provided the recipient agrees to the terms of this EULA.
    Can't this package be redistributed verbatim for free?
    • Yes, it can. Debian removed the package that downloaded them from Microsoft's site. (thus exploiting a loophole in the license) It probably will not be distributing them because of that "not be distributed for profit" clause. However, numerous non-profit groups can, according to that license, still distribute them at will.

      This is, of course, assuming that Microsoft doesn't have a right to unilaterally change the terms of that license at any time. I'm assuming they don't, but one can never be sure in the modern American legal system.

      Of course, this sidesteps the main issue. There needs to be good, nice-looking, Free fonts usable by any and everyone who wants to.

      • Debian is a non-profit organisation.
      • If they had specified such in the "Termination" Section of the license, then they might have been able to get away with it, but they explicitly list only a single cause for termination:

        Microsoft may terminate this EULA if you fail to comply with the terms and conditions of this EULA.

        Unfortunatly I don't still have the original archive that I acquired the fonts in, so I cannot redistribute my copy. I'm sure there's an archive somewhere though.

        I've publicly praised Microsoft on multiple occations for making these fonts available. It's one of the few things they've actually done that truly helped web standards. Technically I don't blame then for pulling the fonts, as I would be unhappy if somebody was violating the license of some of my software as well, however if these fonts were truly to acomplish what Microsoft said they were for then they would have had a more favorable (Perhaps BSD like) license for them in the first place. Well, so much for there being one great thing I could say about Microsoft. I guess now I can move on to unilateral contempt.

  • Is TrueType 'free'? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by qurob (543434)
    Or is it adobe property?

    linux people won't make/use fonts (or anything else) unless everything about them is free
  • We have (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ruie (30480) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:39AM (#4092608) Homepage

    Well, actually, XFree86 4.2.0 already includes truetype fonts, contributed by Bigelow and Holmes.

    inspire:/etc/X11/fonts/TTF$ ls -l
    /etc/X11/fonts/TTF/
    total 980
    -r--r--r-- 1 root root 3214 Jan 19 2002 encodings.dir
    -r--r--r-- 1 root root 7892 Jan 19 2002 fonts.dir
    -r--r--r-- 1 root root 7892 Jan 19 2002 fonts.scale
    -r--r--r-- 1 root root 74076 Jan 19 2002 luximb.ttf
    -r--r--r-- 1 root root 69872 Jan 19 ....
    more fonts follow

    For further information please see /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/doc/RELNOTES (search for 4.22) and /xc/fonts/scaled/TTF/COPYRIGHT.BH (the latter file is located in XFree86 4.2.0 source tree)

    • Yes, do look carefully at its copyright. It's the reason why it's included in Debian's non-free section in the xfonts-scalable-nonfree [debian.org] package.
      • The original point that was raised was about absence of fonts not the inability to modify them (which applied to MS fonts as well)

        AFAIK, the reason copyright file excludes modifications is because B&H wanted to preserve fonts as is and not to have slightly modified copies floating around

  • Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ErikZ (55491) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:42AM (#4092618)
    Well, Linux has always had a problem with nice looking fonts. It doesn't have any.

    And who wants to program fonts when they're trying to program something cool? Font making is generally not covered in Computer Science classes.

    My suggestion? Pay to have them done by a professional. Bang together a donation page and try to set up a deal with someone who can do the work. If you name the font set after the company and put contact info in there, it's free advertising.

    I'm sure they'd offer a discount if you did something like that.
    • Re:Heh (Score:5, Informative)

      by stubear (130454) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @12:18PM (#4092742)
      As font design can take years per font and even longer for an entire font family, I doubt you are going to get any professionals to donate their work just so they can have it named after themselves. Designers aren't as vein as many make them out to be. We take pride in having our work displayed but we also like to be compensated for our efforts.

      I designed the Boston Breakers (WUSA) logo and I get giddy every time I see the signs outside the BU stadium or on NESN. By the way, my own website has another version of the logo I felt was much better suited for a sports team, so if you don't really care that much for the logo as is, blame the client. I designed a MUCH better wave and stashed the words "Boston" in a pill box beneath/slightly over the word "Breakers". I'm sure the designers at Chermeyeff and Geismar are rather elated whenever they see their own work on TV, billboards and signs around the country.

      Anyway, my point is we don't design to have our names on the logos, fonts or collateral materials, we do it because we love design and solving problems. Our hobbies are our jobs and vice versa. We get paid doing something we truly love to do.

      Now, this isn't to say we never donate our time and efforts. As a matter of fact, I am the creative design lead for OBOS (soon to be renamed). I have developed some preliminary design ideas for a modern GUI and am in the process of developing some functionality concepts to create a more user-friendly GUI. Hopefully the OBOS developers will see the wisdom behind the GUI and adopt the ideas I've been working on.

      The biggest problem of most OSS projects is they do not make themselves available to people like me. Most developers think design is opening Photoshop and creating pretty pictures. Design is problem solving in much the same way programming is. We use a different language and set of tools but it is problem solving none the less. If the OSS community wants us to help them they are going to have to do better than offer to put our name in the credits, they are going to have to open their minds and listen.
      • >> ...have to open their minds and listen.

        Nicely put, and here's hoping for a bit more common sense and less religiosity. For whatever reasons, many in the Linux and open source communities seem to think ease of use and desktop design issues are beneath them. Of course they aren't, and the 25-year history of Unix prior to Linux testifies to the basic unmarketablility of the command shell as a pleasing desktop for all but the already converted.

        I dropped Linux as my desktop last month because, even with the MS fonts, it was just too bleedin' hard on my esyes.

    • Re:Heh (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dr. Awktagon (233360) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @12:45PM (#4092845) Homepage

      I think this is a great idea! For one thing, we could have quality free fonts for Linux distributions to use. Most of the "free" and "donated" fonts on Linux are honestly pretty crappy and aren't good typography by any stretch of the imagination.

      And it would nice to have an official "Linux" font, which might even show up in print.

      We could call the font "Penguin", Penguin bold, Penguin Oblique, etc. Unless there's already a font with that name, then we could call it "Linus". And there could be a big all-caps all-bold font called "RMS". Heh.

      Someone who knows about this stuff should see about commissioning a Linux font and putting it into the GPL domain (or whatever is appropriate, I guess a font is like a mini computer program in some ways).

      The only contemporary typographer I'm familiar with is Jon Hoefler [typography.com], I believe he's a pretty hip guy so maybe he'd be willing to design and give away a font for a one-time fee. Who knows..

      Unfortunately fonts in general have to be designed by a single person or team, because the glyphs all have to look the "same". So open-source font development would probably be a bad idea.

    • Some may flame me for this, but I question why one of the commercial distros hasn't already dealt with this blatantly obvious problem?

      It seems to me like RedHat or Mandrake would have already realized that it'd be smart to invest in having someone improve all of the X fonts.

      Sure, people could try to put together a donation page for this, and it might have some limited success. I think you'd have much greater success if a well-known distro put out a want-ad saying "Now hiring font specialist for 6 month to 1 year contract project."

      If your distro looks much more readable than the others, it gives users one more reason to install your "flavor" of Linux, and to possibly buy support for it and purchase commercial copies of it in the future.
    • Re:Heh (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HiThere (15173)
      I've designed reasonable fonts on the Mac. Of course, I had a nice tool (Fontographer, I believe).

      General purpose fonts can be quite difficult, but specialized versions aren't that hard. I rather liked Eirier (a stylized celtic font). But note that my stylizations were almost all done in a way designed to ease the process of creation. I was less happy with my old english version.

      But the important thing here is having decent tools for font creation. Being able to design with Bezier curves is v. important. And so is being able to see both an large and a small version of the letter as you are editing it. And, of course, being able to do the editing with the work in progress sized to occupy most of the screen.

      Now it you want to get into a fancy font, with overlapping letters and serifs ... that takes a huge amount of time, and you'll probably need to construct kerning tables for each of the letters. (I used a size-to-fit rectangle. Variable width letters, but no kerning at all. And no serifs on my more successful attempts.)

      If the tools were readily available, people would be creating fonts. It's something that lots of people get interested in. (I think most of the results are pretty awful, but you pick the gems and leave the rest. Remember that Apple itself was the source of the "San Francisco" font, of which it has been said, "The only reasonable use is writing ransom notes.")
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:43AM (#4092625)
    but Verdana is the sans, and Georgia is the serif.

    The loss of Verdana is really sad -- it was the"first" (read: first designed by a famous typographer) font ever designed specifically for the screen instead of adapated from print media and was commissioned by MS from Matthew Carter. More info [microsoft.com], straight from the horse's mouth.

    My favorite Carter font is Walker, the mix 'n' match typeface that he designed for the Walker Art Center [walkerart.org] in Minneapolis. Totally brilliant.
  • Linux Font Project (Score:5, Informative)

    by erikdalen (99500) <erik.dalen@mensa.se> on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:44AM (#4092628) Homepage
    Something to checkout for people wanting free fonts: Linux Font Project [nitro.dk]

    /Erik

  • by mlas (165698) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:44AM (#4092629) Homepage
    ...and now they're taking it away! I teach web development and design, and I've referred my students to this page for a couple of years now so that they can see the fonts they can count on most people having on their machines. These MS fonts were, for a time, installed with every MS OS, every copy of Office (Mac and PC) and every copy of Explorer (mac and PC) which is an alarming percentage of machines.

    I used to joke that the monopoly was a good thing in this case because it drops these fonts everywhere and somewhat standardizes the font choice for web developers. I don't wanna contemplate a world without Verdana.

    Thank god at least I've been using central CSS, so I only have to change one or two lines per site if the fonts need to be changed!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:46AM (#4092633)
    Any version from 3.0 onwards will have 600+ excellent quality TrueType and .pfb fonts, and you will pay about $10 fair and square for them.
  • by khuber (5664) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:48AM (#4092642)
    OpenType succeeds TrueType and Type1 fonts. It's a better format.

    opentype overview [adobe.com]

    -Kevin

  • Why, exactly, does this matter? Personally, I care not a whit what font I read or write in, so long as it is legible. Is there a large group of people who care about this stuff? Should I be choosing my own fonts for school papers with more care, or is this just some sort of pro/semi-pro publishing thing, that Joe Term Paper need not bother with?
  • Just as a sidenote (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zwei (300334) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:52AM (#4092661) Homepage
    The default fonts in that package, and the fonts that come with Microsoft proucts, are actually knockoffs [ms-studio.com]of the fonts that came with the original PostScript package.
  • Corefonts project (Score:5, Informative)

    by jensend (71114) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @12:06PM (#4092712)
    These fonts are still available from the Corefonts project [sourceforge.net]. This is perfectly legal and in accordance with the EULA [sourceforge.net]; see the copy of Microsoft's FAQ [sourceforge.net]. The project also includes "a source rpm that can be used to easily create a binary rpm package that, when installed, gives access to Microsoft's TrueType core fonts for the Web."
  • I quess, I am the only one, but I don't really understand how someone can "own" a fucking font. To me, this is even more bizarre than the case with mindless patents - even the Amazon.com one. But a font, it's ridiculous. Where does this originate from - history anyone? To me this has been for around 15 years one of the biggest mysteries in computing.
    • by TecraMan (12354) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @01:12PM (#4092960)
      Designing a font is nigh-on an artform. For it to work properly, first of all, you need to create between 70 and 130 characters (as a minimum) which are all consistent, work together properly (i.e. fit properly next to and above/below each other) and, most importantly, look good.

      That's which someone can "'own' a fucking font" (in your words)... It takes a lot of work (sometimes years to do a whole Unicode font) and costs a lot of money to do. Take a look at the majority of free fonts on the market - if they were developed for free, chances are they have a lot of characters missing (especially accented characters needed across the world outside the US) and a lot of bugs.
      • by silentbozo (542534) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @04:08PM (#4093770) Journal
        Heh, sorry for the misleading subject. Actually, in the US you can CAN own a font, you just can't own a typeface. A font is a computer program, and as such, is protectable under copyright law. The name of a font or typeface (like Helvetica) is a trademark, and as such is protectable under trademark law. However, the design for the typeface itself, although protectable in many parts of the world (Europe, Australia), is NOT protectable in the United States.

        This pisses off font designers in the US. Ironically, the preceedent for this dates back to the 18th century, when US font manufacturers (who made their fonts by pouring lead into moulds), wanted free license to rip off their counterparts in the Old-world. They got fonts declared non-protectable, much to their chagrin several centuries later...

        Back in modern times (about 10 years ago), this loophole was exploited by fly-by-night punks (precursors to spammers) who created "shovel-ware" CDS, packed with fonts created by scanning in the output of established fonts. The lazier ones omitted the step of printing out and rescanning typefaces, and instead resorted to "jiggling" the coordinates in an existing font and selling the output as their own, or by ripping off commercial/shareware/freeware authors by taking just the font and renaming it. These guys (the ones who skipped the scanning step) got slapped with a lawsuit by Adobe and a bunch of other font producers, and have since disappeared.

        The point? You can own a font, you can own the name of a typeface, but you can't own the design for a typeface in the US (with one exception - if you can get the US Patent office to grant you a design patent, you can own the design.)

        And, creating typefaces (and going one step further, turning them into fonts) is a difficult and underappreciated occupation in the US, so don't be surprised if few people (if anyone) rise to the challenge of creating one for free.
  • by andred (209977) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @12:16PM (#4092737)
    This was covered by OSNews in this article [osnews.com] as well as this one [osnews.com] a few days ago. The EULA on these fonts allow redistribution of them in unmodified form, so they can be downloaded from http://corefonts.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]. The important thing to learn however is that Linux should stop relying on Microsoft for TrueType fonts.
  • by bostoncello (219997) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @12:19PM (#4092746)
    It is hard to read what M$ intends to do by removing free TT fonts from public download, but I cannot see it as a good thing. Basically, M$ is creating a condition in which browsers running on *nix may not (at some point) be able to render Verdana, which is probably one of the most common fonts on the Web. If Verdana is not installed on (say) a Linux PC, all its browsers (Mozilla, Konquerer) will need to degrade to another alternative non-serif font, unless Verdana can be installed in some way or licensed for distribution with Linux distros.

    Keep in mind that M$ commissioned one of the great designers (Matthew Carter,of Bitstream, now of the firm Carter and Cone) to design these TT fonts for onscreen legibility. It will not be easy to replace them (Verdana in particular) with another freely-available font.

    However, the OSS community is is dire need of a set of fonts that compete with those available on the M$ platforms, both for on screen use and for printing, especially if it hopes to expand onto the office desktop.

    Suggestion to the OSS community: have the emerging alliances between the various distros (e.g.,LSB) create a shared fund, used to commission someone to design a serif and non-serif font for general use on all platforms (including Linux). The goal should be to create a font as good or better than the ones that Matthew Carter designed. And give Matthew Carter first dibs on trying to best himself, thereby ensuring that whatever succeeds Verdana will be of the same style and eloquence as Verdana itself.

    In the meantime, (and this may be flamebait) distros may wish pay the evil empire to license Verdana and Georgia for distribution with Linux.
  • by ChaoticCoyote (195677) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @12:20PM (#4092748) Homepage

    Creating clear, scalable, attractive fonts is neither easy nor cheap -- and the people who care about and need quality fonts are users, not programmers. Given that free software is driven by the needs of technocrats and not by the desires of users, there is little likelihood that high-quality "free" fonts will emerge.

    The technocrats argue that "making fonts can't be that hard" and "just whip some out in the Gimp", betraying their ignorance. Technocrats won't stand for a non-programmer making such "it's easy" comments about writing a complex application, but they hypocritically think they are so wise as to belittle the complexities of designing quality fonts (or user interfaces, or whatever else isn't considered "elite" enough for their full understanding).

    Microsoft is not stupid; it has identified weakenesses in free software, and is exploiting one (the lack of fonts) to its advantage. People in graphic arts or publishing have no interest in free software because it, quite frankly, does not care about them.

    The Mac, which has excellent font support, proves that this is not an issue of free-versus-Microsoft or Unix-versus-Windows; clearly, the Unix-based OS/X provides the kind of font support that users need. The reason for good fonts on the Mac is motivation: Apple cares about meeting the needs of graphic artists and publishers.

    The downfall of free software is its elitist and myopic attitude. Microsoft knows this, and can use its power to provide the "niceties" (like quality fonts) that free developers ignore.

    • Destroyer of Order and Chaos

      If by that you mean destroyer of reasoned discourse, I'd agree. All the highly rated posts prior to yours are from 'technocrats' explaining how difficult and expensive is font creation. The reason for the lack of free fonts is that Linux and open source software is about, if it's not already obvious, software, not graphic design. It's a programmer's movement and they don't typically design fonts. And to propound that open source software's success hinges on acceptance in the graphics community is idiocy.

      If there's anything here myopic and elitist here, it's your superior attitude about everything Linux.

  • by stubear (130454) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @12:27PM (#4092769)
    "Guess it's time for the OSS people to make some decent-looking scalable both-screen-and-printer fonts (preferably TrueType). At minimum, we need nice-looking serif proportional (to replace Verdana), a sans proportional (to replace Georgia), and a mostly-sans fixed (to replace Andale Mono), all with good language support."

    Verdana is a sans-serif font, Georgia is a serif font and Andale Mono is a fixed-width font based on a sans-serif typeface, there are no mostly-sans font types. Fixed-width fonts mean the spacing between characters is equal. These fonts were designed for use on terminals but are not very good modern on-screen fonts as many of the parameters the fixed-width fonts were designed to solve are no longer an issue. Fixed-width fonts have NEVER been good for print.
    • Lighten up. Many fonts are designed for a very specific purposes, like ads or flyers. There are monospaced fonts that have a techy or old-fashioned typewriter 'feel', and you see them plenty in print for those purposes.

      And for printing source code in O'Reilly books, of course.

      Next you'll be posting that Dingbats isn't good for printing novels. ;)

  • True, it's shitty that they withdrew the fonts, but I can't see any practical advantage to the purposely removing them on Linux day. Believe it or not, it probably is just coincidence. And at the risk of sounding like I'm siding with MS, few popular services on the net remain free for very long. It's not simply limited to MS, but here, I guess the fact that it is MS somehow makes it newsworthy.
  • This is why im so reluctant to embrace mono and any other projects that have anything to do with Microsoft. Any patent or license will be forced against us if and when any technology gets "too big". I would rather see that OpenSource would try to make its own technologies.

    They have a habit of using any means avaliable to crush competition.
  • If I understand my rumours correctly, it was a [Linux] package that downloaded the fonts from MS, displayed their EULA, and allowed the user to extract and install the fonts.

    Ford: "Since Chevy is copying our car styles, we are no longer going to style our cars. They will hereafter be bland."
  • by SystemOfTheAnimal (563597) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @12:58PM (#4092904) Homepage
    i've been a designer for the better part of ten years, and have therefore been exposed to a lot of type and talk about type. it's my understanding that you can't copyright or otherwise protect the actual curves (the letterforms themselves) in a font, but only the name. i believe this is accurate, because if you look at those lame corel "100000 fonts for $4" clip art packages, you'll see lots of blantantly deriviative fonts with slight changes, like "universal," which is quite obviously univers with a name change. if you ask me, this is a sad state of legal affairs, but it is the status quo whether i like it or not.

    so, why doesn't someone just fire up fontographer and make a copy of andale mono with a different name and distribute that? if corel can rip off adobe fonts for profit, surely linux can get away with ripping off a M$ font...

  • by Boiotos (139179) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @01:06PM (#4092943) Homepage
    What's being overlooked here, but is of at least as great importance, is MS's concurrent withdrawl of Arial Unicode MS [microsoft.com], a 27 Mb unicode font with an unequalled combination of beauty and coverage that Cyberbit can't touch. Ancient Greek, for instance, looks great in arialuni, and with it installed, Mozilla would be sure to render just about any unicode encountered. This page [techviet.com] provides mandrake rpms for it.

    In light of the observations above on the Georgia et al. EULA, does anyone have the EULA for arialuni? Perhaps it was offered on the web with similar terms.

    • by Boiotos (139179) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @02:40PM (#4093332) Homepage
      Answering my own question...

      Using the Wayback machine [archive.org] trick outlined above, I was able to get a copy of the original ariuni .exe file. Below is the EULA, which is written as a supplement to that of applicable software. The definition of the latter includes "Microsoft Office" (no version specified), whereas the MS website now stipulates that the font is for Publisher 2000 users only.

      Thus, to expand on my comments above, there is an even more dire need for a OS'd and free prorportional TrueType (or better) font with as broad a unicode coverage as possible. The only alternative I know of is Cyberbit; Bitstream's website [bitstream.com] says it is now a commerical font, but you can download it from netscape's ftp site. [netscape.com]

      Arial Unicode MS EULA excerpt follows:

      SUPPLEMENTAL END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR MICROSOFT SOFTWARE ("SUPPLEMENTAL EULA") (c) 2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. IMPORTANT: READ CAREFULLY - These Microsoft software product components, including any "online" or electronic documentation ("Components") are subject to the terms and conditions of the agreement under which you have licensed the applicable Microsoft product ("Product") described below (each an "End User License Agreement" or "EULA") and the terms and conditions of this Supplemental EULA. .... NOTE: IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A VALID EULA FOR ANY "PRODUCT" (I.E., MICROSOFT OFFICE, MICROSOFT PUBLISHER, AND ANY MICROSOFT PRODUCTS THAT INCLUDE MICROSOFT PUBLISHER AS A COMPONENT PRODUCT), YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO INSTALL, COPY OR OTHERWISE USE THE COMPONENTS AND YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS UNDER THIS SUPPLEMENTAL EULA.

  • by Eric Sharkey (1717) <sharkey@lisaneric.org> on Sunday August 18, 2002 @01:59PM (#4093148)
    I'm the maintainer of the msttcorefonts Debian package. This package has not been pulled (at least not yet).

    There's some discussion of the situation and the EULA for these fonts in Debian bug report #156503 [debian.org].

    As far as I know, it should be ok to redistribute these fonts without modification, but that means leaving them packaged in windows .exe self installer. Putting the fonts in a .tar/.deb/.rpm for easy installation, even without modifying the fonts themselves seems to violate the license.

    So for Debian, the problem at this point is one of logistics. The fonts can be distributed, but Debian's mirrored ftp archive system isn't really set up to handle anything other than .deb files. Yes, there's a tools directory with fips and rawrite and similar non-deb packaged tools useful for installing, but there's not really any current place for these fonts to go. But I'm sure this will get solved before the next major Debian release. ;)
  • by IvyMike (178408) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @03:38PM (#4093610)

    Probably my favorite thing about Andale Mono is that the zero has a dot in the center, making it trivial to distinguish from the letter O, which does not have the dot. Few other monospaced fonts today have that feature.

    To programmers, that's a big win. In fact, making C-syntax characters look different ("1" v. "l", "{}" v. "()", "O" v. "0", "." v. ",", ":" v. ";", "'" v. "`") should be a priority for anybody working on an Andale Mono replacement. (Andale Mono could be improved on a few of these).

    I've often wondered if I might even use a font where a "{" had an extra do-hickey (not quite sure what that would be) to distinguish it from "(". Even if it didn't look like a traditional "{" it might be a win. (But of course, I'd have to see it first).

    (P.S. Since I'm dreaming, I might as well wish for a pony, too...)

    • by Colin Simmonds (4017) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @04:38PM (#4093906) Journal

      Probably my favorite thing about Andale Mono is that the zero has a dot in the center, making it trivial to distinguish from the letter O, which does not have the dot. Few other monospaced fonts today have that feature.

      To programmers, that's a big win. In fact, making C-syntax characters look different ("1" v. "l", "{}" v. "()", "O" v. "0", "." v. ",", ":" v. ";", "'" v. "`") should be a priority for anybody working on an Andale Mono replacement. (Andale Mono could be improved on a few of these).

      You'd probably be interested in ProFont - a font designed for programmers, which has existed for years, but few outside of the Mac programming community know about it. It was specifically designed to be readable at 9 point, with similar characters distinctly different, as this page [tobias-jung.de] demonstrates. The full distribution [macinsearch.com] includes TrueType, Type 1, and bitmap versions of the font for Mac and Windows. You can also download a look-alike bitmap version for Windows here [tobias-jung.de].

      I've been using ProFont for years as the font in my editor when coding, and found it very helpful.

      • ProFont is a good coding font, but unfortunately it is no longer useful in OS X. The new version of Monaco has a slash through the zero, proper Ls and Is, and has better kerning and readability than ProFont, IMHO.
  • by crapulent (598941) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @05:46PM (#4094145)
    There is an excellent web site called Dmitry's Design Lab [webreference.com] that shows you how all the standard elements of design (color, shape, texture, etc.) apply to web sites. He is also one of the authors of the book HTML Unleashed, if you've ever read that. Personally I find it quite fascinating site because I'm usually up to speed on the technical details but when it comes to the actual concepts of design I start venturing away from my areas of knowledge. Anyway, the article on fonts [webreference.com] is a great read. It goes over a lot of the history behind fonts, and explains some of the terminology.
  • by Ankh (19084) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @06:53PM (#4094379) Homepage
    Do we need a Free Font Foundation?

    I've tried for some time to get some high quality fonts "donated" to Gnome or XFree86; although this work is still continuing, we're not getting very far. Here's why. Maybe you can help.

    It's *difficult* (as others have said) to design a successful typeface. For a poorly hinted font, an hour or two on each character design will get you basic latin one in about five weeks, and then you spend another two weeks with hinting. If that sounds a lot of time, remember that you need to adjust sidebearings (nn sit further apart than oo, or you'll get spots of light and dark on a page/screen, for example) and kerning (Wa closer together than Wh, "r," closer than "n,", "fk" further apart to aviod a glob at the top.

    It turns out that an R isn't simply a P with a tail, an E sn't an F with an extra leg, in most designs, particularly the more calligraphic such as Palatino.

    So, it's a lot of work to make a font, and for Linux and the Free Software movement, we want fonts that support as many languages as possible, and as many scripts as possible, so that as many people as possible can use the software.

    That means even mnore work, and a lot of time from people who are primarily creative artists and designers, with a strong techincal background.

    There are three main font formats in widespread professional use today: TrueType, Type 1 and OpenType.

    It turns out that TrueType fonts are more expensive to produce in high quality than Type 1 outlines, because with Type 1 outlines, most of the hinting is in the renderer, so the code is only written once; with TrueType, individual fonts have bytecode instructions to do hinting, and it's different for each font.

    OpenType lets you embed both Type 1 and TT outlines in the same font file, along with metadata for supporting lots of languages. So if yuo use Type 1 outlines, you avoid the Apple patent on TrueType.

    One way forward would be to gather enough money to pay some font designers to make some new fonts. Another way would be to make a one-time payment to buy rights to existing fonts. Probably best would be a mixture: start with existing fonts and extend their Unicode coverage.

    What would a Free Font be? Probably we need something slightly different from the GPL. In particular, it might not be OK to redistribute a modified Free Font without making clear that you have changed it, because otherwise you could reduce its quality or destroy the artistic integrity of the design, and give the artist who designed it a bad reputation.

    Font *outlines* (i.e. the design of a typeface) are protected by copyright outside the USA, because they are recognised as artistic works. In the US, they are not protected, for historical reasons. In both cases, the font *names* are often registered trademarks, so you see Palladium because Palatino is a trademark, I think of Linotype; Dutch instead of Times (Monotype), Swiss instead of Helvetica, and so on.

    This means it's not OK to start with existing designs, unless they are old enough - e.g. using the original designs of William Caslon from the 1720s is OK, using Adobe Caslon is not OK, at least not without permission.

    So, we need type designers to give permission, or to make new designs.

    We need more work on the FreeType Type 1 support, so that we don't have to worry about the software patent on TrueType rendering.

    We need an independent legal entity so that designers have someone to negotiate with, and so that money can be paid to them. Maybe the Gnome Foudnation or XFree86.org would do, as long as the fonts can be used with any software, not just Gnome or the X Window System.

    I do not have enough time to do a lot of work here, but I *am* willing to help introduce people to font designers and other resources, and to help explain the technological issues.

    Hacking on a font renderer takes serious skill, as does designing fonts. But maybe programmers can contribute to FreeType, and to pfaedit (how about a Gnome port, too?) and to ghostscript. Programs like Mandrake's FontDrake can be worked on (it's GPL'd I think).

    Who wants to help build a font portal, somewhere people can download Free Fonts from, and with links to font designers who can help customise fonts, and to non-free fonts you can buy?

    Who wants to donate a server and some bandwidth?
    Set up a mailing list?

    Remember, we need fonts that are Free, not just ones that don't cost anything, and we need high quality, and support for lots of languages.

    If you read this far, my thanks, and let's make something happen. Post here, or feel free to send email [liam at holoweb dot net, will work]

    Liam

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