[tex-live] License for the EC fonts

Alexander Cherepanov cherepan at mccme.ru
Thu Sep 3 22:25:26 CEST 2009

Dear Jörg,

first of all, thanks a lot for developing many useful packages for

Recently I have stumbled upon a custom license used for the EC fonts.
It is similar in spirit to The LaTeX Project Public License (LPPL) but
is not equivalent to it. That's very natural because release of the EC
fonts predates LPPL. But LPPL has evolved a lot since then and has
many improvements. IMHO last LPPL is much more balanced then first
attempts to formalize Knuth's ideas. Could you please consider
changing the EC license to LPPL? I hope this could still serve your
purposes and simplify the life of other people at the same time.

The reason I'm personally concerned with the license for the EC fonts
is my attempt to look into the license situation for the LH fonts. As
you probably remember LH are Cyrillic fonts supporting various
encodings. Main encoding used for Russian is T2A which is similar to
T1 but contains Cyrillic symbols in upper half of table. Many common
symbols are taken from the EC fonts. Olga Lapko and other authors are
willing to switch from Knuthian license plus some annoying
acknowledgement requirement to the LPPL but IMO bare LPPL is
impossible because of several restrictions in the EC license. In
particular, it requires LH to add to its license the restriction on
filenames and requires to accompany LH with EC when distributing. The
LH fonts can not be used as a replacement for the EC fonts so these
restrictions don't seem useful here. OTOH LPPL would permit such
borrowing without extra license burden.

You could find the situation with the basic 35 PostScript fonts by
URW++ somewhat similar. They were available under GPL for many years
but recently URW++ released them under LPPL (
https://lists.dante.de/pipermail/ctan-ann/2009-June/003741.html ).

And a couple of other points to note.

I understand that strong renaming requirement in the EC license is
supposed to maintain sane namespace. Indeed, it is vital in TeX world.
Unfortunately a license is a wrong tool for this. Roughly speaking, it
doesn't work. For example, FSF says that the renaming requirement is
acceptable for LaTeX only because it's easy to overcome (see
http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/#LPPL-1.2 ). And, of course, a
license of the EC fonts doesn't have any say in naming of
independently created fonts.

Usage of an unusual license (no matter how good it is) noticeably
complicates the job for of packagers and distributors (CTAN, TeX Live,
MiKTeX, and every GNU/Linux distribution). Each of them should check
the license and evaluate it according to their criterions. This is
already very hard for common licenses (when there are thousands of
packages) but it's much more cumbersome for custom licenses. BTW one
of the LPPL virtues is that LPPL 1.3 is accepted as DFSG-free which
IMHO is one of the most widely used criterions for freeness (used by
Debian and (along with FSF's) by TeX Live).

I'm Cc'ing tex-live at tug.org, it would be great if you can keep it in
Cc on reply.

Best regards,
Alexander Cherepanov

More information about the tex-live mailing list