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[GNU-linux-libre] Non-free fonts embedded in PDF files packaged by free

From: grizzlyuser
Subject: [GNU-linux-libre] Non-free fonts embedded in PDF files packaged by free GNU/Linux distributions endorsed by FSF
Date: Sun, 24 Nov 2019 12:15:47 +0000

I did a very quick research about these PDFs in two of the distros endorsed by
FSF [1] and found a few examples. I didn't check all the endorsed distros, but
it might be a heads up for each of them. Neither did I check for other file
types that can embed fonts. It looks like embedded non-free fonts are against
the FSDG [2] (please correct me if I'm wrong). I'd like to start (or continue
some old) discussion about the issue and ways to resolve it.

To inspect the PDF file in question, FontForge software can be used, for
example. Open the file and select a font from the list if there are a few of
them, then go to Element - Font Info. There's a Copyright field, and also TTF
Names section where License and License URL strings may be available (with full
text on click on the string).

Using the above method in freshly updated distributions Trisquel 8.0 and
Parabola GNU/Linux-libre I checked some packages and found a few that appear to
have non-free fonts embedded in their PDF files:
  Trisquel: libreoffice-pdfimport
  Parabola: libreoffice-fresh, ghostscript, and fontforge itself

It's not clear if there are other affected packages, but it looks quite likely,
especially for cross-platform projects where contributors might use non-free
operating systems and/or tools to create PDFs.

One of the found examples is LibreOffice, where Times New Roman font is embedded
in a file by the following path (in both distros):

Below is the license for the font embedded in it, extracted from TTF Names ->
License field:

> This typeface is the property of Monotype Typography and its use by you is 
> covered under the terms of a license agreement. You have obtained this 
> typeface software either directly from Monotype or together with software 
> distributed by one of Monotype's licensees.
> This software is a valuable asset of Monotype. Unless you have entered into a 
> specific license agreement granting you additional rights, your use of this 
> software is limited to your workstation for your own publishing use. You may 
> not copy or distribute this software.
> If you have any question concerning your rights you should review the license 
> agreement you received with the software or contact Monotype for a copy of 
> the license agreement.
> Monotype can be contacted at:
> USA - (847) 718-0400          UK - 01144 01737 765959

If this is a valid issue, I guess the best thing all endorsed distros can do is
to scan their repositories in some way to find all the packages that contain
such PDFs and other file types that embed non-free fonts. Then it would be great
to report these issues to upstream projects. And while it's not clear if
upstream are going to fix them, free distros can modify their packages to remove
offending fonts.


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