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David Crossland: The Free Font Movement [Dave Crossland]

Masters Thesis written in 2008 at the University of Reading by David Crossland that explains the free font movement in detail. I reproduce its Abstract:

This dissertation examines the emerging free font movement, a small part of the larger free software and free culture movements.

Part A provides an overview of key concepts in the free software and culture movements. It starts by describing the hacker culture of the 1970s, the origins of Richard Stallman's GNU project, and his ethical basis for free software. Business and copyright practices are exam- ined, and the cultural values of projects are described.

This is followed by an account of Stallman's theory of culture, and the Wikipedia and Creative Commons projects that are associated with this theory. Debates within the movement are explored, such as how Wikipedia develops, the role of non-commercial licensings, and the definition of free culture.

Part B explores the implications of the principles of free culture for typeface design, attempting to answer whether typeface designs and fonts ought to be free. To do this it examines what typefaces are, who the users of typefaces are, and how type connects to Stallman's theory of culture.

It then discusses the relation of typefaces to font software, the different forms of digital type, and how font software connects to Stallman's theory. The legal status of typefaces and fonts is also considered.

Part C looks at what it means for fonts to be free, such as what font source code is. It examines how fonts are made free. The effects of various licensing practices and the ways font freedom is exercised are explored, such as collaborative community development processes.

A business model for sustainable commercial typeface design within the free culture movement is suggested, and a motivation for non-commercial typeface design activity is posed. Finally, areas for further research are suggested.

David Crossland: The Free Font Movement
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David and Goliath ⦿ Open source fonts ⦿

Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html