To Unfetter a Better Letter

May 10, 2007

It’s a weird world we live in. It takes a company that makes money from free software to pay for fonts to be free to replace fonts that aren’t free. Ok, as usual I’m oversimplifying and trampling on the reality of things. But if it’s any consolation, I simplify for my own benefit (read as: I’m an idiot) not for the faithful readers.

Red Hat just had a press release about font creation to coincide with their San Diego conference. From the release:

Red Hat contracted with Ascender Corp., one of the leading commercial developers of fonts, to develop a set of fonts that are metrically equivalent to the key Microsoft fonts.

It sounds odd, unnecessary and possibly even frivolous, but I high-five Red Hat for this move in the same way that I previously high-fived Bitstream for their fonts a while back. It really speaks volumes on the ubiquity of Microsoft-related dependencies when companies actually pay money to duplicate seemingly fundamental aspects of computing. People get so sick of similar-but-not-identically-formatted documents that they actually open their wallets. Action happened with the OS. Then with applications. Then with formats (XHTML/CSS comliance, ODF), and now with freaking letters. Throw in pixels if you want to consider sub-pixel hinting. Discontent keeps getting more and more microscopic.

Are “metrically equivalent” fonts legal? I hope so. But there’s nothing worse than a Jagged Letter Fill. (Wow was that pun brutal. ) Thanks Red Hat. It’s unfortunate that this move was considered a necessity.

2 Responses to “To Unfetter a Better Letter”

  1. dividedmind Says:

    AFAIK, they’re legal in the US (where the copyright doesn’t cover font outlines), but they might not be in the EU (where the copyright does cover font outlines) if they’re too similar. (Just metric equivalency isn’t enough, though, to invoke copyright infringement.)

  2. zdzichu Says:

    Of course they are legal. This is exactly what MS did, copying Apple font and creating Arial, Times, Courier – http://www.ms-studio.com/articles.html . Now RedHat is doing exactly the same. Funny.


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