Bonum Certa Men Certa

The Ill Effects of Software Patents on Font Rendering

We recently spoke about proprietary and/or patent-encumbered software, including fonts and their rendering. We discussed a particular controversy and later pointed out that proprietary software may be included in out-of-the-box Opensuse.

Because there was a lot of unwanted noise over Truetype and Novell at at the time, perhaps it is worth quoting part of a new interview with a Freetype developer.

[Q:] If the patent owner of hinting gives the Freetype project a free license, would you accept it?

David Turner [of Freetype]: It really depends on the terms of this "free license". Basically if it means the patent can not be freely re-licensed to other people, I really don't see why I would find that useful. If you absolutely need the bytecode interpreter, you can be patient and wait for October 9, 2009, when the patents expire.

[...]

There is no clear answer as to what is best. Personally, I can't stand native TrueType hinted fonts anymore, they look too distorted to me, even if their contrast is better. My favorite Linux distribution is Ubuntu at the moment, and the first thing I do after installing it is to wipe the version of FreeType provided with it to get rid of the bytecode interpreter :o)

Also, I still don't understand why Debian and Ubuntu keep distributing patent-infringing code in FreeType, while they keep MP3 and DVD playback out of their normal installs. I'm not even sure it's DFSG compliant...


Is anybody else getting the feeling that a patent reform or overhaul is desperately needed?

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