Misleading description of fonts entries

Bug #666539 reported by Nicolas Spalinger on 2010-10-25
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
software-center (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

The software centre has a Fonts section but entries in that section indicate they are "free": please do not use this term as it has strongly negative connotation in the typeface design community and corresponds to maybe-distribute-but-don't-modify-fonts usually of low quality. Open fonts (or libre/open fonts) is much much preferred and corresponds to font software allowing use/study/modification/redistribution.

[This report previously also asked for display of more specific license information, which is already covered by bug 435183.]

Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

Hi Nicolas, and thanks for all your work on fonts.

Because some items in Ubuntu Software Center (and in equivalent utilities on other platforms) have a price, USC needs to be clear about all those that do not. In English, we do this by saying that they are "Free". I don't know of any other way of doing that that wouldn't look either pretentious (e.g. "Gratis"), primitive (e.g. "Price: $0.00"), or pedestrian (e.g. "No charge").

If zero-price fonts have a stigma in the typeface design community, I think that stigma can more effectively be tackled by organizations like SIL and the League of Movable Type than by a puny software installation utility. :-)

We would like to be more specific about the license. That's bug 435183, so I'm marking this as a duplicate. Please reopen if I've missed anything.

Nicolas Spalinger (yosch) wrote :

Hi Matthew, thank you for your work.

You seem to be missing the point here. I'm well aware of the paid-for apps in the Software Center.
Yet, "Free" in English is way too ambiguous and you are certainly not helping making users aware by choosing this word to indicate the price or lack thereof: <insert free as in foo not free as in bar cliché here>.

You are being offensive to authors of open fonts when their work is lumped together with "Free" stuff which is almost always of dubious value regarding fonts. That's simply a bad connotation. The community of designers releasing fonts to be used/studied/modified/redistributed don't want to be associated with "free". Since you are offering their work via your channel you shouldn't mislabel it.

It's really simple: you need to indicate the price or lack thereof differently: in any case either "gratis" "£0.00" or "no charge" is much better than "free".

Showing the explicit licensing information is a separate issue.

Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

You say the licensing information is a separate issue, so I'll remove that and unmark the duplicate.

Meanwhile, you are probably correct that I am missing the point. To me, even excluding the licensing information, you seem to be conflating three distinct issues.

1. You say there is a "strong negative connotation" for font designers to have open fonts to be labelled as "free". I haven't seen this offense myself, and it is so counter to the attitude I see in authors of other kinds of open source material (software, art, Wikipedia articles, music) that I hope you'll understand me not just taking your word for it. So, are there any recorded examples of this offense that you can point to?

2. You say that to call an open font "Free" is to "mislabel it". If this issue is real, it's probably the most easily fixable of the three. So, can you give an example of any open font available in Ubuntu Software Center that is not, in fact, free? (I would be delighted if font designers sold open fonts through USC for whatever price they like. But as far as I know, nothing like that has happened yet.)

3. You say it is "offensive to authors of open fonts when their work is lumped together with 'Free' stuff". Any solution to issue #1 would not fix this issue, because that is about language whereas this is about grouping. But I don't understand exactly what distinction you're trying to make here. Is it just about fonts "allowing use/study/modification/redistribution" versus "maybe-distribute-but-don't-modify-fonts"? (As far as I can tell, the only fonts in the latter category right now are mathematica-fonts and the ttf-ipafont set.) Or is it something else, like fonts by designers that are/aren't professionally trained?

description: updated
summary: - Improve misleading description of fonts entries
+ Misleading description of fonts entries
Changed in software-center (Ubuntu):
status: New → Incomplete
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

[Expired for software-center (Ubuntu) because there has been no activity for 60 days.]

Changed in software-center (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → Expired
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