Fonts prohibiting installable embedding

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at
Sat Oct 2 22:48:17 CEST 2021

On 2021-10-02 at 02:31:07 +0000, Paul Wise wrote:

 > On Sat, Oct 2, 2021 at 12:42 AM Reinhard Kotucha wrote:
 > > I assume that the *only* legally relevant document is the license
 > > and thus don't see any reason to waste any time or to bother the
 > > authors.
 > >
 > > In this case I'm convinced that Debian did too much of a good
 > > thing.  If we can't rely on the license file, is there anything
 > > we can rely on at all?  Can a stupid comment in the source code
 > > of a program render the license file invalid?  Certainly not.
 > The license is a legal instrument that is only enforced in the
 > courts, but the embedding/printing/etc bits are a technical
 > instrument that is often enforced by software, kind of like DRM but
 > easier to defeat if you know how, and impossible to defeat if you
 > don't know how. So when the embedding/printing/etc bits are
 > inconsistent with the license, I think it is appropriate to discuss
 > disabling those bits with the upstream authors of the font, so that
 > users who don't know how to defeat those bits can use the fonts in
 > the ways that they are legally allowed to and want to, in places
 > that do enforce the embedding/printing/etc bits.

Hi Paul,
you are right, this is a point I completely missed.

What I fear is that most authors of fonts (if they are reachable at
all) are reluctant to change anything after a release.  As far as
fonts provided by GUST (Latin Modern, TeX Gyre, etc.) are concerned
I'm quite optimistic though.

What one could do is to ask the author(s) of fontforge to change the
default settings.  This would solve the problem for many freely
available fonts.

I doubt that any existing program obeys those bits right now and
therefor most font authors are not aware of them.  At least there is
no reason to remove those fonts from the distributions.


Reinhard Kotucha                            Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover                    mailto:reinhard.kotucha at

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