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  1. OFL FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions about the SIL Open Font License (OFL)
  2. Version 1.0 - 22 November 2005
  3. (See for updates)
  5. 1.1 Can I use the fonts in any publication, even embedded in the file?
  6. Yes. You may use them like most other fonts, but unlike some fonts you may
  7. include an embedded subset of the fonts in your document. Such use does not
  8. require you to include this license or other files (listed in OFL condition 2),
  9. nor does it require any type of acknowledgement within the publication. Some
  10. mention of the font name within the publication information (such as in a
  11. colophon) is usually appreciated. If you wish to include the complete font as a
  12. separate file, you should distribute the full font package, including all
  13. existing acknowledgements, and comply with the OFL conditions. Of course,
  14. referencing or embedding an OFL font in any document does not change the
  15. license of the document itself. The resulting document is not a derivative
  16. anymore than a compiled program is a derivative of a compiler. Similarly,
  17. creating a graphic using an OFL font does not make the resulting artwork
  18. subject to the OFL.
  19. 1.2 Can I make web pages using these fonts?
  20. Yes! Go ahead! Using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is recommended.
  21. 1.3 Can I make the fonts available to others from my web site?
  22. Yes, as long as you meet the conditions for use (include the necessary files,
  23. don't abuse the Author(s)' names, rename Modified Versions, do not sublicense
  24. and do not sell by itself).
  25. 1.4 Can the fonts be included with free and open source software distributions
  26. (such as GNU/Linux and BSD distributions)?
  27. Yes! The OFL is compatible with most FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source
  28. Software) licenses. You can also repackage the fonts and the accompanying
  29. components in a .rpm or .deb package and include them in distro CD/DVDs and
  30. online repositories.
  31. 1.5 I want to distribute the fonts with my program. Does this mean my program
  32. also has to be free and open source software?
  33. No. Only the portions based on the font software are required to be released
  34. under the OFL. The intent of the license is to allow aggregation or bundling
  35. also with software under restricted licensing.
  36. 1.6 Can I include the fonts on a CD of freeware or commercial fonts?
  37. Yes, as long some other font or software is also on the disk, so the OFL font
  38. is not sold by itself.
  39. 1.7 Can I sell a software package that includes these fonts?
  40. Yes, you can do this with both the Standard Version and a Modified Version.
  41. Examples of bundling made possible by the OFL would include: word processors,
  42. design and publishing applications, training and educational software,
  43. edutainment software, etc.
  44. 1.8 Why won't the OFL let me sell the fonts alone?
  45. The intent is to keep people from making money by simply redistributing the
  46. fonts. The only people who ought to profit directly from the fonts should be
  47. the original authors, and those authors have kindly given up potential income
  48. to distribute their fonts under the OFL. Please honor and respect their
  49. contribution!
  50. 1.9 I've come across a font released under the OFL. How can I easily get more
  51. information about the Standard Version? How can I know where it stands compared
  52. to the Standard Version or other Modified Versions?
  53. Consult the copyright statement in the license for how to contact the original
  54. authors. Consult the FONTLOG for information on if and how the font differs
  55. from the Standard Version, and get in touch with the various contributors via
  56. the information in the acknowledgment section. Please consider using the
  57. Standard Versions of the fonts whenever possible.
  58. 1.10 What do you mean in condition 4? Can you provide examples of abusive
  59. promotion / endorsement / advertisement vs. normal acknowledgement?
  60. The intent is that the goodwill and reputation of the authors should not be
  61. used in a way that makes it sound like the original authors endorse or approve
  62. of a specific Modified Version or software bundle. For example, it would not be
  63. right to advertise a word processor by naming the authors in a listing of
  64. software features, or to promote a Modified Version on a web site by saying
  65. "designed by...". However, it would be appropriate to acknowledge the authors
  66. if your software package has a list of people who deserve thanks. We realize
  67. that this can seem to be a gray area, but the standard used to judge an
  68. acknowledgement is that if the acknowledgement benefits the authors it is
  69. allowed, but if it primarily benefits other parties, or could reflect poorly on
  70. the authors, then it is not.
  72. 2.1 Can I change the fonts? Are there any limitations to what things I can and
  73. cannot change?
  74. You are allowed to change anything, as long as such changes do not violate the
  75. terms of the license. In other words, you could not remove the copyright
  76. statement from the font, but you could add additional information into it that
  77. covers your contribution.
  78. 2.2 I have a font that needs a few extra glyphs - can I take them from an OFL
  79. licensed font and copy them into mine?
  80. Yes, but if you distribute that font to others it must be under the OFL, and
  81. include the information mentioned in condition 2 of the license.
  82. 2.3 Can I charge people for my additional work? In other words, if I add a
  83. bunch of special glyphs and/or OpenType/Graphite code, can I sell the enhanced
  84. font?
  85. Not by itself. Derivative fonts must be released under the OFL and cannot be
  86. sold by themselves. It is permitted, however, to include them in a larger
  87. software package (such as text editors, office suites or operating systems),
  88. even if the larger package is sold. In that case, you are strongly encouraged,
  89. but not required, to also make that derived font easily and freely available
  90. outside of the larger package.
  91. 2.4 Can I pay someone to enhance the fonts for my use and distribution?
  92. Yes. This is a good way to fund the further development of the fonts. Keep in
  93. mind, however, that if the font is distributed to others it must be under the
  94. OFL. You won't be able to recover your investment by exclusively selling the
  95. font, but you will be making a valuable contribution to the community. Please
  96. remember how you have benefitted from the contributions of others.
  97. 2.5 I need to make substantial revisions to the font to make it work with my
  98. program. It will be a lot of work, and a big investment, and I want to be sure
  99. that it can only be distributed with my program. Can I restrict its use?
  100. No. If you redistribute a Modified Version of the font it must be under the
  101. OFL. You may not restrict it in any way. This is intended to ensure that all
  102. released improvements to the fonts become available to everyone. But you will
  103. likely get an edge over competitors by being the first to distribute a bundle
  104. with the enhancements. Again, please remember how you have benefitted from the
  105. contributions of others.
  106. 2.6 Do I have to make any derivative fonts (including source code, build
  107. scripts, documentation, etc.) publicly available?
  108. No, but please do share your improvements with others. You may find that you
  109. receive more than what you gave in return.
  110. 2.7 Why can't I use the Reserved Font Name(s) in my derivative font names? I'd
  111. like people to know where the design came from.
  112. The best way to acknowledge the source of the design is to thank the original
  113. authors and any other contributors in the files that are distributed with your
  114. revised font (although no acknowledgement is required). The FONTLOG is a
  115. natural place to do this. Reserved Font Name(s) ensure that the only fonts that
  116. have the original names are the unmodified Standard Versions. This eliminates
  117. potential confusion and name conflicts. When choosing a name be creative and
  118. try to avoid names that sound like the original. Keep in mind that the
  119. copyright holder can allow a specific trusted partner to use Reserved Font
  120. Name(s) through a separate written agreement.
  121. 2.8 What do you mean by "references stored in the Font Software"? Do I have to
  122. delete every reference to the Reserved Font Name(s) from inside every file I
  123. modify?
  124. No, not every reference. It would be fine, for example, to keep a text
  125. reference to the original fonts in your modified source code, as long as no one
  126. could be confused that your modified source is the original. But you cannot use
  127. the Reserved Font Names in any way to identify the font to the user (unless the
  128. Copyright Holder allows it through a separate agreement, see section 2.7).
  129. Users who install derivatives ("Modified Versions") on their systems should not
  130. see any of the original names ("Reserved Font Names") in their font menus, font
  131. properties dialogs, PostScript streams, documents that refer to a particular
  132. font name, etc. Again, this is to ensure that users are not confused and do not
  133. mistake a font for another and so expect features only another derivative or
  134. the Standard Version can actually offer. Ultimately, creating name conflicts
  135. will cause many problems for the users as well as for the designer of both the
  136. Standard and derivative versions, so please think ahead and find a good name
  137. for your own derivative. Font substitution systems like fontconfig,
  138. or Scribus will also get very confused if the name of the font
  139. they are configured to substitute to actually refers to another physical font
  140. on the user's hard drive. It will help everyone if Standard and derivative
  141. fonts can easily be distinguished from one another, and from other derivatives.
  142. 2.9 What is this FONTLOG thing exactly?
  143. It has three purposes: 1) to provide basic information on the font to users and
  144. other developers, 2) to document changes that have been made to the font or
  145. accompanying files, either by the original authors or others, and 3) to provide
  146. a place to acknowledge the authors and other contributors. Please use it! See
  147. below for details on how changes should be noted.
  148. 2.10 Am I required to update the FONTLOG?
  149. No, but users, designers and other developers might get very frustrated at you
  150. if you don't! People need to know how derivative fonts differ from the
  151. originals, and how to take advantage of the changes, or build on them.
  153. The FONTLOG can take a variety of formats, but should include these four
  154. sections:
  155. 3.1 FONTLOG for <FontFamilyName>
  156. This file provides detailed information on the <FontFamilyName> font software.
  157. This information should be distributed along with the <FontFamilyName> fonts
  158. and any derivative works.
  159. 3.2 Basic Font Information
  160. (Here is where you would describe the purpose and brief specifications for the
  161. font project, and where users can find more detailed documentation. It can also
  162. include references to how changes can be contributed back to the Standard
  163. Version. You may also wish to include a short guide to the design, or a
  164. reference to such a document.)
  165. 3.3 ChangeLog
  166. (This should list both major and minor changes, most recent first. Here are
  167. some examples:)
  168. 1 Feb 2005 (Jane Doe) <NewFontFamilyName> Version 1.1
  169. - Improved build script performance and verbosity
  170. - Extended the smart code documentation
  171. - Corrected minor typos in the documentation
  172. - Fixed position of combining inverted breve below (U+032F)
  173. - Added OpenType/Graphite smart code for Armenian
  174. - Added Armenian glyphs (U+0531 -> U+0587)
  175. - Released as "<NewFontFamilyName>"
  176. 1 Jan 2005 (Joe Smith) <FontFamilyName> Version 1.0
  177. - Initial release of font "<FontFamilyName>"
  178. 3.4 Acknowledgements
  179. (Here is where contributors can be acknowledged. If you make modifications be
  180. sure to add your name (N), email (E), web-address (W) and description (D). This
  181. list is sorted by last name in alphabetical order.)
  182. N: Jane Doe
  183. E:
  184. W:
  185. D: Contributor - Armenian glyphs and code
  186. N: Fred Foobar
  187. E:
  188. W:
  189. D: Contributor - misc Graphite fixes
  190. N: Pat Johnson
  191. E:
  192. W:
  193. D: Designer - Greek & Cyrillic glyphs based on Roman design
  194. N: Tom Parker
  195. E:
  196. W:
  197. D: Engineer - original smart font code
  198. N: Joe Smith
  199. E:
  200. W:
  201. D: Designer - original Roman glyphs
  202. (Original authors can also include information here about their organization.)
  204. 4.1 Why should I contribute my changes back to the original authors?
  205. It would benefit many people if you contributed back to what you've received.
  206. Providing your contributions and improvements to the fonts and other components
  207. (data files, source code, build scripts, documentation, etc.) could be a
  208. tremendous help and would encourage others to contribute as well and 'give
  209. back', which means you will have an opportunity to benefit from other people's
  210. contributions as well. Sometimes maintaining your own separate version takes
  211. more effort than merging back with the original. Be aware that any
  212. contributions, however, must be either your own original creation or work that
  213. you own, and you may be asked to affirm that when you contribute.
  214. 4.2 I've made some very nice improvements to the font, will you consider
  215. adopting them and putting them into future Standard Versions?
  216. Most authors would be very happy to receive such contributions. Keep in mind
  217. that it is unlikely that they would want to incorporate major changes that
  218. would require additional work on their end. Any contributions would likely need
  219. to be made for all the fonts in a family and match the overall design and
  220. style. Authors are encouraged to include a guide to the design with the fonts.
  221. It would also help to have contributions submitted as patches or clearly marked
  222. changes (the use of a centralized or distributed source revision control system
  223. like subversion or arch is a good idea). Examples of useful contributions are
  224. bug fixes, additional glyphs, stylistic alternates (and the smart font code to
  225. access them).
  226. 4.3 How can I financially support the development of OFL fonts?
  227. It is likely that most authors of OFL fonts would accept financial
  228. contributions - contact them for instructions on how to do this. Such
  229. contributions would support future development. You can also pay for others to
  230. enhance the fonts and contribute the results back to the original authors for
  231. inclusion in the Standard Versions.
  233. 5.1 I see that this is version 1.0 of the license. Will there be later changes?
  234. We hope that version 1.0 will meet most needs, but are open to future
  235. improvements. Any revisions would be for future font releases, and previously
  236. existing licenses would remain in effect. No retroactive changes are possible,
  237. although the Copyright Holder can re-release the font under a revised OFL. All
  238. versions will be available on our web site:
  239. 5.2 Can I use the SIL Open Font License for my own fonts?
  240. Yes! We heartily encourage anyone to use the OFL to distribute their own
  241. original fonts. It is a carefully constructed license that allows great freedom
  242. with some protection for the original authors and clear rules for other
  243. contributors. Some additional information is included at the end of this FAQ.
  244. 5.3 Does this license restrict the rights of the Copyright Holder?
  245. No. The Copyright Holder still retains all rights to their creation; they are
  246. only releasing a portion of it for use in a specific way. For example, the
  247. Copyright Holder may choose to release a 'basic' version of their font under
  248. the OFL, but sell a restricted 'enhanced' version. Only the Copyright Holder
  249. can do this.
  250. 5.4 Is the OFL a contract or a license?
  251. The OFL is a license and not a contract and so does not require you to sign it
  252. to have legal validity. By using, modifying and redistributing components under
  253. the OFL you indicate that you accept the license.
  255. 6.1 Who is SIL International and what does it do?
  256. SIL International is a worldwide faith-based education and development
  257. organization (NGO) that studies, documents, and assists in developing the
  258. world's lesser-known languages through literacy, linguistics, translation, and
  259. other academic disciplines. SIL makes its services available to all without
  260. regard to religious belief, political ideology, gender, race, or ethnic
  261. background. SIL's members and volunteers share a Christian commitment.
  262. 6.2 What does this have to do with font licensing?
  263. The ability to read, write, type and publish in one's own language is one of
  264. the most critical needs for millions of people around the world. This requires
  265. fonts that are widely available and support lesser-known languages. SIL
  266. develops - and encourages others to develop - a complete stack of writing
  267. systems implementation components available under open licenses. This open
  268. stack includes input methods, smart fonts, smart rendering libraries and smart
  269. applications. There has been a need for a common open license that is
  270. specifically applicable to fonts and related software (a crucial component of
  271. this stack) so SIL developed the SIL Open Font License.
  272. 6.3 How can I contact SIL?
  273. Our main web site is:
  274. Our site about complex scripts is:
  275. Information about this license (including contact email information) is at:
  278. If you want to release your fonts under the OFL, you only need to do the
  279. following:
  280. 7.1 Put your copyright and reserved names information in the beginning of the
  281. main OFL file.
  282. 7.2 Put your copyright and the OFL references in your various font files (such
  283. as in TrueType name, description and license fields) and in your other
  284. components (build scripts, glyph databases, documentation, keyboard, samples,
  285. etc).
  286. 7.3 Write an initial FONTLOG for your font and include it in the release
  287. package.
  288. 7.4 Include the OFL in your release package.
  289. 7.5 We also highly recommend you include the relevant practical documentation
  290. on the license by putting the OFL-FAQ in your package.
  291. That's all. If you have any more questions please get in touch with us.