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Graphics Software

Bitstream To Donate 10 Fonts To Free Software World 410

Posted by timothy
from the some-gnus-is-good-gnus dept.
21mhz writes "Posted on FootNotes: The GNOME Foundation and Bitstream Inc. announce long-term agreement to bring high quality fonts to Free Software. Ten fonts will be released for use under a special open license agreement, giving advanced font capabilities to all free and open source software developers and users. Read the full press release for more details." Modification and re-release (under a different name) is explicitly allowed, too.
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Bitstream To Donate 10 Fonts To Free Software World

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  • It's only 10 fonts. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gentoo Fan (643403) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:42PM (#5137969) Homepage
    Also, if it's open source, why it is "long term"? They said "special license" but they didn't post the license itself.
    • Leave it to a Gentoo fan to look a gift horse in the mouth. "What about the license?", "only 10...". We Redhat users just live with what we get.

      Joke. ;)

    • by valisk (622262)
      If the license lasts longer than the patents mentioned then we are pretty much in the clear
      • by FreeUser (11483)
        If the license lasts longer than the patents mentioned then we are pretty much in the clear

        Unfortunately, fonts can be COPYRIGHTED!!!

        Yes, you too can own a life+70 year (or 90-year corporate) monopoly, compliments of your bought-and-paid for congress critters and a cowardly Supreme Court that chooses quarterly economic expediency over constitutionality. You too can own a government entitlement to a very long-term monopoly on the very shape of the letters of the Roman alphabet.

        A friend of mine does computer consultancy for law firms, among them a thug, excuse me, lawyer, who makes his living enforcing a copyright on a particlar font (I don't recall which one). How does this enforcement work? Not through the courts, as one might expect, but more in terms of a protection racket shakedown: "remove your fonts and pay us X for past violations, keep your fonts and pay us X+Y for a license of some specified term, or we'll make your defense cost more than your net worth."

        Copyright AND patents are destroying the freedom of information exchange, and will likely obliterate it within our lifetimes unless some serious reform is undertaken, something that does not appear too likely in todays political climate, which has recently come to resemble corporate fascism more than even a semblance of democracy...but that is a discussion for another day.

        In other words, the licensing terms and term are important, and if this proves as benevolent as it first appears, this is a very, very good thing for free software.
        • copyright (Score:3, Informative)

          by 1u3hr (530656)
          Unfortunately, fonts can be COPYRIGHTED!!!

          No they can't, not in the US anyway.
          typeright.org [typeright.org]: "The US Copyright Office still officially refuses to accord protection for typeface designs."
          There are licensing and trademark issues, but not copyright. As the poster said, the lawyer works on intimidation, not actually getting judgements. (Unless the DMCA has radically changed this, which is possible as it seems to have all kinds of unintended consequences.)

    • by Jester99 (23135)
      How many fonts do you really use in your daily life? I probably use five for 95% of my time on a computer.

      Furthermore, no license today really addresses fonts; open source licenses tend to make provisions for source code and computer programs, or else "open content", e.g., printed words. It would kind of seem natural to craft a new license that addresses font issues.
  • this is cool... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blinder (153117) <blinder.dave@nOSPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:42PM (#5137973) Homepage Journal
    ... for us design geeks who like to design on the linux platform... now if The Powers That Be would just develop something like Quark.... but I digress.

    Graphic design, its not just for the Mac any more :)
  • free fonts (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:43PM (#5137974)
    get free fonts at free fonts.com [freefonts.com]
  • Yes! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Gortbusters.org (637314) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:43PM (#5137975) Homepage Journal
    These 10 fonts shall increase my usability experience, allowing me to show them off to all!

    It's always good to hear news like this.. companies don't need to open source everything.. just donate a little to the community and it'll fill our hearts with warm feelings.
  • Most of us (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:44PM (#5137987)
    I've got lots of fonts already; I've got Adobe fonts, Bitstream fonts, Microsoft fonts, etc.. I just wish that the default configuration on my Red Hate 8 box didn't make them all look like crap.

    Honestly, I'm glad that Bitstream is a good enough community player to donate these. Only problem is our community is served a whole lot more by quality than it is by quantity.
    • Re:Most of us (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stratjakt (596332)
      >> I've got Adobe fonts, Bitstream fonts, Microsoft fonts

      Possibly not legally, and definately not Free. Some fonts that ship with MS Office are explicitly for use with MS Office, etc. They do have a free (cost) pack of fonts for use in alternate web browsers, but whether or not it's OK to use them for linux I'm not sure (I know Redhat doesn't enable them by default). I'm not positive, but I think there's something about them being free for use only to liscensees of windows. All of which is MS's perogative, since they are their fonts.

      Anyways, some Free (libre) fonts, if indeed they are *usable* and not garbage like 'Carebearz' or 'Stoner handwriting', make linux just a little bit more legitimate on the desktop than it did an hour ago. It still has lightyears to go, however.
  • by mao che minh (611166) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:44PM (#5137989) Journal
    You know you're a geek when you get excited about the release of new fonts.
  • by Vengie (533896) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:48PM (#5138040)
    Please save the "ohh but its only 10 fonts" comments.
    The microsoft world does very well with ARIAL, COURIER, and TIMES NEW ROMAN.
    (Actually, most of the personal computing world does fairly well with these fonts)
    I used CHICAGO, TIMES and BOOKMAN exclusively for years on a Mac LCII.
    The crux of the issue is that these should be high quality fonts. THAT is a big deal. Kerning is a huge pain.
    "ae" vs "lk" vs "ld" vs "dl" vs "kl" -- spacing changes more than you think. Amen, hallelujah...now lets just see how they look.
    • Arial, courier and times are font families. So Arial Bold, Arial Italic, Arial Bold Italic are 3 different fonts. If they go by the strict definition of fonts, it's not a big deal.

      Also, it might be 10 versions of Symbol...
    • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:19PM (#5138315) Homepage
      The microsoft world does very well with ARIAL, COURIER, and TIMES NEW ROMAN.

      Indeed, and according to Fontilus Bitstream were the people who made these fonts.

      I think people don't realise how hard it is to make good fonts. Arial is a huge project in and of itself, simply getting the fonts looking good at all sizes is hard, and then you need glyphs for other languages and alphabets.

      It's hard. 10 fonts is an amazing gift, if they are of high quality. I think they will be, Bitstream are good.

      • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:22PM (#5138330) Homepage
        I'm a doofus. Monotype Corporation made Arial.
      • by Eightlines (536572) <brent@eightlines.com> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:47PM (#5138522) Homepage
        Amen. I think the cynicism in these messages is uncalled for. Bitstream at one time produced a great product that embedded fonts into the website while making sure they were restricted to the domain they were posted on. They've shown awareness of Type Designers copyright priveledges. They led the way to a W3C proposal. And now I have to read comments about the possibility of the fonts being released being "crappy"?

        Months ago another font article was written about MS pulling their fonts from their site. The /. crowd wrote that more people should create fonts and release them to the opensource community. Now that we are getting them this is what you respond with?

        10 Fonts (not typefaces, fonts - there is a difference) that are properly designed can take years to produce. There is no science behind fonts, its an art. Its something type designers take very seriously and its a whole different geek culture. Sure we have Arial, Courier, Helvetica, but one typeface is not good in all cases. Think about how many different typefaces you have seen in Newspapers, TV, Film, etc. For each their own purpose. If people can learn to apply the styles of good typography to their projects then we all benefit through better legibility, readability, and aesthetic means.

        Personally, I really hope one of the fonts is Stone.
  • What's the point? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EmeraldSpirit (643151) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:49PM (#5138045)
    I guess I just don't understand the big deal here. You can get free fonts from multiple places - why is this nothing more than a bit of free publicity for the company? And since the article didn't state which fonts - how would one know that its going to be useful? They put out this article - get the publicity - and all they have to do is give away really arcane or unused fonts. Am I missing the point?
    • by FooBarWidget (556006) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:13PM (#5138273)
      The problem isn't free fonts, the problem is high-quality and Free (as in freedom) fonts. Sure you can download I don't know how many free beer fonts from the net, but they are either 1) not freely redistributable or 2) for fun only; not optimized for actual ready or 3) low-quality.

      BitStream is donating high-quality AND Free fonts here! So soon we will get Linux distros with high-quality fonts out-of-the-box.
      • Ahem,

        Since these are being released to the public *EVERY* OS will have access to these fonts.

        Open source != linux

        I will be able to enjoy these on XP, Linux, MacOSX and whatever else i plug them into.
    • Re:What's the point? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JanneM (7445)
      The font is the Vera family; there's links in other comments to pictures.

      And yes, it _is_ a big deal. Slapping together a half-decent font able to show the 7-bit ascii characters in a few sizes isn't all that much work. Making a high-quality, well designed font that will work over the entire iso8859-1 (or even Unicode) with proper hinting and good visibility over a large range of sizes and resolutions, takes a _lot_ of time and effort.

    • by Chasuk (62477) <chasuk@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:21PM (#5138323)
      You're right - you really don't understand. Yes, free fonts are available from multiple places, but most of them are shite.


      Lousy font rendering/choice is one of the last major hurdles in Linux desktop adoption. It stymied me until last year, when Redhat 8 made the Linux desktop viewable without me wanting to chunder.


      Yes, you are missing the point.

    • by pcardoso (132954)
      Most free fonts are badly done. I don't question the look of the fonts themselves, but most don't have the international (accented) characters, so writing anything other than english is dificult.

      If these fonts feature a complete character set and are as high quality as anything you get from a fresh install of windows (except that ugly Comic Sans) and macOS, then we're in luck.

      Show a screenshot for some Linux program for a windows only user and the first thing he'll notice is that the fonts are ugly, if it's not a RH8.0 linux system. The font rendering in RH8 is very good.

      Now if only I didn't have to install the fonts all over the place for GTK1, GTK2, QT, TCL/TK and all the other toolkits so they can see the same fonts....
    • I guess I just don't understand the big deal here. You can get free fonts from multiple places - why is this nothing more than a bit of free publicity for the company?

      I'm no expert on fonts but I do know a little about the difficulties in creating them. I'm sure someone will correct me if I mispeak on a minor point.

      Sure, you can download free cheeseball fonts from lots of different free font sites but there is a *huge* difference between those free fonts you just downloaded and professionally made fonts. Why do you think Linux has gone so long without a decent set of fonts? Its because high quality fonts take a *long* time to develop and are *very* expensive to make because of all the labor involved. It can take a professional typeographer a full year to develop just one font. Until now its been very difficult for the Free Software community to find either:
      1) A professional typeographer willing to donate a large amount of time (typeographers and professional level font creation software doesn't grow on trees)
      2) A company willing to fund the creation of the fonts. (expensive!)

      With this in mind I think one can begin to appreciate the magnitude of the gift that Bitstream is giving the community.

      Thank you Bitstream!
  • by pyite69 (463042) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:50PM (#5138062)

    Sets of fonts that are the exact same size as the
    standard Microsoft fonts (e.g. Arial). This is
    one of the key problems when trying to export
    files from Open Office to an MS Word user - the
    fonts end up not matching correctly and things
    look funny.

    My $.02.
  • Hehe... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Chicane-UK (455253) <.moc.dlrowltn. .ta. .ku-enacihc.> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:51PM (#5138067) Homepage
    I can imagine Microsoft doing something like this.. a totally out of the blue, unexpected gesture, getting everyone really excited.

    Then they release ten variations of webdings.. the press release says "Try rendering your pages using THOSE on Mozilla!" :)
  • If these fonts were bundled with Mozilla and similar browsers, we could have more variety in our web pages (i.e. not just Arial, Courier, and Times Roman) without font-embedding (which never worked very well anyway).

    Now if only we could see these fonts... There's no match for Vera on the Bitstream font search.
  • Look at this [bitstream.com] on Bitstream's site. It's a full-featured PDA web browser that supports landscape mode.

    Kaching! Finally something decent looking for PocketPC users who're sick of the joke that's portable IE!

  • How similar... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dyj (590807)
    are the fonts with common TrueType fonts such as Times New Roman, Ariel, and Courier? It would still be annoying if one does not have good substitutes for these common fonts in the free software world.
    • Re:How similar... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WWWWolf (2428)

      Erm... Times New Roman, Arial and Courier New already have high-quality equivalents in OSS world: Times, Helvetica and Courier. There versions that come with XFree86 are crap, but there are high-quality Type1 versions of them available, made by URW. You can get them from the GIMP web page [gimp.org].

      Okay, I'm not a typographer (just play one on Slashdot), so I think those just look good enough. =)

  • by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:52PM (#5138085) Journal

    1. Helvetica WayTooNarrow

    2. Jesse Ventura Bold

    3. Another Godamnned Star Trek Font

    4. Cthulhu HyperItalic

    5. Penis Extra Small

    6. Fertilizus Dungbats

    7. Douche Medium

    8. Bush Wacky Wingdings

    9. MS AntiTrust

    10. End Times Extra Dark

  • by miracle69 (34841) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:53PM (#5138097)
    When this story becomes a repost in about 8 hours?
  • by King Babar (19862) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:54PM (#5138111) Homepage
    Anyway, here's the only screenshot of the newly free fonts I could find. Now, in an attempt to be nice to this guy's server, I'll make you cut and paste this one:

    http://tieguy.org/fonts.png

    Pretty decent stuff, in my opinion.

    • The serif, in particular, looks very nice on the screen.

      OTOH, I've had situations where a font looks awful on the screen, and great on the page (i.e Bookman on Solaris under StarOffice).
    • by mattdm (1931) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:43PM (#5138497) Homepage
      Hmm. Not that I don't appreciate Bitstream's gift, but ugh, the kerning on those looks terrible -- especially the serif font. Look at the s in "Bitstream" -- it's smashed right up against the first t and a jarringly long way from the second. And the e seems to have a lot of space on both sides.
      • by King Babar (19862) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:03PM (#5138616) Homepage
        Hmm. Not that I don't appreciate Bitstream's gift, but ugh, the kerning on those looks terrible--especially the serif font.

        Yes, but you should take heart that this is just what the first guy who just punched text into AbiWord on his notebook got. We will see better.

        I mean, right now you'd have to think that there are hints not being used here, or being used in a particularly sucky^H^H^Hboptimal fashion. So the "ts" problem you note is much worse in Vera Serif 16 than in the 24.

        What gives me great hope is the look of the Vera Mono Sans font. Now, there's a font, people. Before you pick apart the licensing or whine about not getting Centaur or what not, have a look at this. I, I, might even have to end my love affair with Lucida Sans Typewriter (sniff).

      • the kerning on those looks terrible

        Yes, actually it looks like no kerning at all. Kerning is usually a function of the application, not the OS. Word, for instance, in different versions had working or broken pair kerning. That's one reason you use a DTP app (Ventura, Pagemaker, etc) instead of a word processor.

    • OK, so I haven't seen it anywhere yet, but a logical guess as to the set of *10* fonts we are likely to see would be:
      • Bitstream Vera Sans
      • Bitstream Vera Sans Italic
      • Bitstream Vera Sans Bold
      • Bitstream Vera Sans Bold Italic
      • Bitstream Vera Serif
      • Bitstream Vera Serif Italic
      • Bitstream Vera Serif Bold
      • Bitstream Vera Serif Bold Italic
      • Bitstream Vera Sans Mono
      • Bitstream Vera Sans Mono Bold

      That said, the notion of a "Bitstream Vera" font is rather obscure on the net according to google. There *is* a set of multilingual fonts that go under the "Vera Humana" name; maybe Bitstream bought or adapted these? So where are the font experts when you need them? :-)

  • by DeadBugs (546475) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:57PM (#5138129) Homepage
    I hear that 9 of the 10 fonts are variations of the famed MS Wingdings.
  • Psst -- LCD users... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcgroarty (633843) <brian.mcgroarty@gmaiLIONl.com minus cat> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:57PM (#5138137) Homepage
    LCD users... wanna make those Bitstream scalables look really really nice?

    If you're running XFree86 4 and Xft as your font manager, add this to your XftConfig:

    match edit rgba = rgb; (some esoteric LCDs may need "bgr" instead.)

    Sub-pixel font rendering! Yes, it has a little visible color artifacting, but it gives you the same wonderful effect that you get with Windows XP ClearType and Mac Jaguar sub-pixel rendering.

    On my Viewsonic vp201mb, I can see fonts beautifully a couple point sizes smaller than I can see them with antialiasing alone.

    • by cowbutt (21077) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:05PM (#5138191) Journal
      LCD users... wanna make those Bitstream scalables look really really nice?

      Enabling sub-pixel rendering on Trinitron-esque monitors also seems to work out well as they use a regular rectangular pixel layout, similar to LCD panels. I didn't expect it to work because CRTs don't have the same 1:1 relationship that LCDs have when running at their native resolution, but...

      --

    • If you're using Redhat 8 or Gnome 2.2 you can control subpixel font rendering from the fonts control panel. Remember that Xft is obsoleted now, so don't use this trick if you're on a very modern distro that uses fontconfig
  • First the Free T-Shirts [bitstream.com], Now free fonts! I hope to see more companies get our interest by doing something good for the community than evil --**cough**Microsoft**cough**!
  • Double Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:08PM (#5138217) Homepage Journal

    While the main story here is Bitstream's magnanmous gesture to the open source community, I could not help but notice Jim Gettys comments that showed how he viewed the action as important, too, to KDE, despite being on the GNOME board.

    "...Freetype, XFT2 and X Render extensions of the XFree86 project, Pango, KDE and Trolltechs QT, among many others." said Jim Gettys of HP and GNOME Foundation board member.
    I like to see the 2 desktop projects recognize their mutual needs and their mutual strengths.

    And I'm hoping that someday there will be a bridge between Bonobo and KParts, too.

  • They still used the old standard courier font for the press release.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hello,

    I have released a set of fonts under the GPL (10 or so) my latest "Dustismo" is a good all purpose sans serif, with more then 350 glyphs. get them all at http://www.cheapskatefonts.com/

    Thanks,
    Dustin
  • I didnt see the fonts listed. Does the fonts released include "zapfdingbats" and "lucida sans"? I can add lucida via MS fonts, but zapfdingbats is copyrighted, and not avail for download. (Except for Adobe Typeset on windows.)

    Many production X Window software seem to use these 2 fonts, and xfree doesnt include them. No loss, but I see the error all the time, on many applications. (Do a google search, it is a common problem)

    aka..
    Font specified in font.properties not found [-b&h-lucida sans-medium-r-normal-sans-*-%d-*-*-p-*-iso8859-1]
    Font specified in font.properties not found [-urw-itc zapfdingbats-medium-r-normal--*-%d-*-*-p-*-sun-fon tspecific]
  • The press release says the Vera font. What I really want is a well populated decent looking scalable unicode font. Will this be just iso-1? or well populated across all of unicode?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't know the exact history of TTF's, but didn't Apple develop them?

    Apple seems to have benefitted from the free software community by utilizing KHTML for it's new browser. Could it return the favor by donating some of it's TTF's for use in Linux/Xfree?

    • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:35PM (#5138453) Homepage
      Apple seems to have benefitted from the free software community by utilizing KHTML for it's new browser. Could it return the favor by donating some of it's TTF's for use in Linux/Xfree?

      Other than the fact that Apple have released very little stuff they developed themselves, they'd have been better off giving FreeType an unlimited license to TrueType hinting, instead of forcing them to develop an auto-hinter. It wouldn't have even cost anything, I don't know how much they make out of these royalties but I doubt it's much. Yet they do not.

      • Other than the fact that Apple have released very little stuff they developed themselves, they'd have been better off giving FreeType an unlimited license to TrueType hinting, instead of forcing them to develop an auto-hinter. It wouldn't have even cost anything, I don't know how much they make out of these royalties but I doubt it's much. Yet they do not.

        Almost certainly little or nothing. MS already has an unlimited license. However, it has a good deal of worth to Apple in that it adds value to their system in the publishing field -- higher quality font rendering. It's a lovely barrier to entry, and gives Apple an excellent leg up over its competitors (BSD, Linux, etc). I doubt Apple will be giving out licenses any time soon.
  • STIX Fonts (Score:5, Informative)

    by white-mj (313374) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:26PM (#5138368)
    Have you heard about STIX?

    The STIX [stixfonts.org] fonts are going to cover all of Unicode.

    Maybe I'll never again see "?" for every non-ASCII character. Now, *that* will be useful.

    From their site:

    The STIX mission will be fully realized when:

    * Fully hinted PostScript Type 1 and OpenType font sets have been created.
    * All characters/glyphs have been incorporated into Unicode representation or comparable representation and browsers include program logic to fully utilize the STIX font set in the electronic representation of scholarly scientific documents.
  • Vera Font Family (Score:3, Informative)

    by arn@lesto (107672) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:32PM (#5138430) Homepage

    The 10 fonts are all from the same family "Vera". Hopefully they look good enough on the screen and on paper that people won't mind using them.

    There are at three major styles "Serif", "Sans" and "Mono", with three minor styles "regular", "italic" and "bold". Thats 9 fonts. I would guess the 10th is a set of symbols.

    I haven't been able to find samples of the family on either bitstreams site or myFonts.com so I would also guess that the font is renamed for copyright purposes from something else.

  • Fonts and copyright (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ortholattice (175065) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:38PM (#5138470)
    It seems to be little-known fact that fonts and typefaces are not protected by copyright. The only thing that can be copyrighted is any software underlying the generation of fonts, such as software that interprets hints and presumably the hints themselves. This is how e.g. TrueType fonts achieve some copyright protection. However if you're willing to live with a set of fixed point sizes you can freely copy and use the bitmaps they place on the screen, to create your own font collection, as I understand it. (This is my take on what I've read; IANAL.)

    There is a movement underfoot called TypeRight [typeright.org] advocating copyright protection for fonts. The site also explains some of the copyright issues.

    It interesting that the lack of copyright protection has apparently not hindered the creation of a wide variety of fonts.

    • by marm (144733) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @04:30AM (#5141798)

      It seems to be little-known fact that fonts and typefaces are not protected by copyright.

      That's because this is not quite correct. You should read the site you link to more closely.

      There are two separate areas of copyright on a computer font, relating to the design (the shape of the letters), and the vector data - and name - that describes this design.

      In the US, the design of a typeface cannot be copyrighted, but the data and name that describes this design can be. Thus, for instance, Monotype can claim copyright over their implementation of Arial, so if you simply copy the .ttf font file without their permission, you are in breach of copyright law. However, if you print out each character of the font extra-large and then scan and trace the shapes to make a new font with a different name, you are okay - in the process of tracing the shape, you have created an original work. This is why there are so many cheap knock-offs of popular typefaces with subtly different names to the original. Funnily enough given the nature of this story, Bitstream are notorious for doing this.

      I don't think your idea of creating bitmaps from a scalable font to avoid copyright would pass muster, because you have merely translated the copyrighted data from one form to another - no different to converting the font from TrueType to Type1, for instance. You haven't created an original work.

      Note that this rather strange situation only applies to the US - just about everywhere else that enforces copyright allows designers to copyright typeface designs as well as the data that describes the design, so if you make a knock-off of a non-US designer's typeface, you might find yourself in hot water.

      Interestingly, the situation dates from the early years of American independence when all the commonly-used typeface designs were owned by foreigners and there was a shortage of skilled typographers to create distinctive American typefaces. To get around this problem, the fledgling US Patent Office simply declared typeface designs uncopyrightable, thus sparing US printers some stiff royalties. Ahhh the irony...

      It interesting that the lack of copyright protection has apparently not hindered the creation of a wide variety of fonts.

      True, but it should be noted that almost all the important typefaces of the last 200 years have been designed outside of the US... Times, Helvetica, Gill Sans, Futura, Eurostile, Rotis, Palatino, these typefaces are the backbone of modern design, and none of them came from the US.

  • Screenshot (Score:5, Funny)

    by hysterion (231229) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:44PM (#5138503) Homepage

    T h 3 Qu 1ck Br0 wn F0x Ju m ps 0v 3r T h 3 L4zy Do9!

  • About time!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ponos (122721) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:49PM (#5138532)

    This is excellent news, indeed.

    Good fonts are (a) very hard to design,
    (b) rare, (c) expensive and (d) tremendously
    important for the feeling of your desktop.

    No matter what you say, it takes a special
    kind of artistic ability to make good fonts.

    This news is much more important than a 10%
    speedup or a "new gadget" type of feature.

    P.

    P.S. Also note, that a "full" font includes
    italics, bold, small capitals and quite a few
    symbols. Many free fonts are incomplete in
    that respect.

  • by mattdm (1931) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:52PM (#5138546) Homepage
    Seriously, I'm perplexed. I understand that making a really nice, readable font is a lot of work -- I've even played around with Fontographer. Getting the kerning and hinting and everything right is both tedious and difficult. But is it actually next to impossible? Is it harder than making a whole Unix-like kernel from scratch? Or the whole rest of a Unix-like OS?

    At the very least, why doesn't someone like Red Hat or even IBM hire a top-notch font designer and have him/her just make a few? How long does it take someone with good skills to make a good, basic font? A year? Six months? Two years?
    • by DuBois (105200) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:20PM (#5138723) Homepage
      As the first manager of support for Fontographer, I can attest to the fact that it takes a lot longer to make a quality font than you might think if you've just fiddled with Fontographer a bit. You can make a simple, low quality font in a couple of hours. To make a publication-ready font probably takes a month at least; three months for one that is completely hinted with all the Eurpean characters, etc. etc. etc. etc.

      But Your Mileage May Vary, and it's been awhile since I've actually made a font (1993 was the last time I went throught the complete process).

      If you want a complete Unicode font, well, then all bets are off, since those can be huge.

  • by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:00PM (#5138600) Homepage Journal

    This is a very nice gesture by Bitstream. The one thing I don't like is the constant harping in the press release that this will finally make Linux look good.

    Of course, the Gnome Foundation can hardly say anything else, as they would otherwise ruin the good PR for Bitstream, but frankly, I don't think anything is wrong with the fonts right now, with the exception of distros picking dumb defaults, and idiots with a two-day course in using Frontpage building websites. Try surfing the web with 'Use own fonts' on in Galeon, and then viewing the same pages with the specified fonts. If you want a headache, that'll give it to you (sadly, Open Source oriented sites are not free of this evil neither. On default settings NewsForge is unreadable because it picks a sans-serif font in small type, a typographical no-no if there ever was one for a site where the information is supposed to be primarily textual).

    After picking the right fonts, I have never felt the need for anti-aliased fonts on my desktop. My text is clear and sharp at 1280x1024, and even my laptop at 1024x768 on 14.4inch screen looks fairly good. Certainly nothing like the headache-inducing nightmare some of the people on this thread want us to believe.

    Of course, that I get a nice desktop look with using Adobe fonts for all my settings just proves the point I made in the second paragraph. And the fact that these fonts come standard with X reinforces it.

    Still, a big thank you to Bitstream is in order. Whatever the motives, this was a good thing.

    Mart
  • by dmeranda (120061) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:20PM (#5138722) Homepage
    This is a VERY welcome bit of goodwill by Bitstream, especially considering how IP paranoid most font foundaries usually are. I do hope that they encode the fonts to allow embedding and subsetting (as many "free" fonts in the past have inadvertantly dissallowed that). Also I hope these fonts contain the full Unicode repertoire (as much as makes sense), and not just the Latin-1 subset.

    But I am still anxiously awaiting Adobe to release free versions of their Base PDF fonts. Adobe always makes a big deal about the PDF format being "open" (albeit completely controlled by them). But the one MAJOR non-open component of PDF are the non-open base fonts! Sure the font metrics, aka AFM files, are free (but they hide them very well in the bowels of their ftp site), but not the font outlines.

    Come on Adobe, please follow Bitstream's lead and release your base PDF fonts! You can't claim PDF is open until you release the fonts. (Perhaps the same goes for Postscript which has a larger set of Base/Mandatory fonts?)
  • by jg (16880) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:21PM (#5138727) Homepage
    Ok, folks, here a bit more information for you.


    1) We hope a preliminary version of the fonts will be available next week for download, but no redistribution. They still need some work; consider this a beta test.


    2) We hope finished fonts will be available in a month or so, after Jim Lyles (the font designer) has finished them up. We need a few changes: the font family Vera is derived from (Prima) has "0" and "O" too hard to distinguish, and similarly for "1" and "l", given our often technical audience.


    There is also some work on hinting, etc, to finish up.


    When finished, they will go under a copyright which allows you (roughly) to fold, spindle, and mutilate the fonts, so long as you change the name to something else, and you can sell them so long as you don't sell them by themselves. You can sell them with any software whatsoever. You can freely redistribute the fonts anywhere, anytime, unmodified under that name.


    The sale provision is that Bitstream does not want other font vendors to just drop the fonts into their font sale mechanisms and sell them, something they are giving away.


    I can't say I blame them.


    3) the coverage of these fonts is roughly western european; there is the possibility of some fonts in the future with wider coverage, but as that those fonts are not yet complete, I don't want to say much more, as their availability is much less certain.

    4) You can get a good idea of what the fonts look like and what the coverage is by the following URL (once the slashdot effect allows Bitstream to recover).


    http://store.bitstream.com/searchresults.asp?sea rc htext=Prima


    Now you know where the name Vera comes from :-).


    5) the agreement also covers potentially adding characters to the family under the Bitstream Vera name, but Bitstream (and Gnome) reserve the right to approve the additions: we want to *know* when we open fonts of these names that we have what we expect. Feel free to hack to your hearts content under other names, however.

    • First, thanks to you and Bitstream for your work!

      >There is also some work on hinting, etc, to finish up.

      It's good to know we'll be getting a set of manually hinted fonts. But what about those of us (possibly the majority?) who have TrueType bytecode hinting disabled in our FreeType builds? Do these glyphs render well when hinted with FreeType's autohinter?

      It would be a shame for the fonts to work well only when the patented bytecode interpretter is enabled in FreeType...

  • by nlinecomputers (602059) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @07:57PM (#5140063)
    I am writing this on XP. Why? Because although I use Linux for my server and have Linux desktops I can't make the break with MS totally. Why because Linux fonts are so ugly and hard to read that I get eye strain.

    I think alot a potential users are turned off by the sloppy appearance of Linux on the screen.

    This is but one step in the direction of having Linux more accepted on the desktop. Redhat understands this. That is why Bluecurve was created. It still isn't good enough but it is better. If Openoffice and Mozilla out of the box can use these new fonts then you might have something to kill Windows with.

    Just my worthless .02 cents.

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