[fosscomm] Open and royalty free standards for fonts a must.

jitendra jituviju at gmail.com
Sat Jul 11 06:39:00 PDT 2009

The government is buckling under the corporate pressure and NASSCOM/MAIT  is
not the only conduit of influence. As can be seen from the recommendations
(minutes of 17 June) in Apex Body , the OpenType font standards , which are
clearly  proprietory standrards maintained as closed-source , patented IP,
are being advised as the ‘mandatory’ standard . This is flying in the face
of the criterion described in the policy documents. The current Chairman of
committee on language standards and the relevant Sections  in Department of
IT of Govt of India  have buckled too. This despite strong representations
in the committees.

Apart from font standard, a reference implementation is to be part of
standards document. And Sakalbharati fonts are being proferred as reference
implementations, being proposed to be part of the standards . However , this
is  without clarity on whether these wil held as IP, closed source of
C-DAC.  The naive statement (on question by MAIT) that they will be 'free'
for e-governance, skirts the important issue whether they will be open and
royalty-free. This is important because of the history of C-DAC ( at least
the GIST branch which handles fonts)  being closely tied to proprietory
vested interests. This is particularly the case ever since its proposed
ISCII standard ( which was open and which is still the BS standard) has been

While unicode must be made the standard for encoding as per ISO10646 which
is a non-profit intergovernmental organisation (in conjunction with Unicode
consortium which is formed by several commercial organisations but vowed to
be governed by ISO10646) ,why is the pressure being brought to make opentype
font as mandatory standard. This must be resisted  unless the concerned
companies make it open and royalty free.

Alternately why does government not decide to develop own fonts standard as
open and royalty free standard. After all opetype fonts are largely confined
to indian(may be some south asian) fonts. It may be noted that most graphics
applications cannot be localisd in indian languages only due to the fact
that opentype font are not supported by them. Since CJK countries use
doublebyte unicode font which are supported (due to recent developments of
libraries in these packages) , mosr developers of graphics packages (
proprietory or FOSS, and that to the best of my knowldge )  do not have any
incentive to develop libraries for support to opentype. They will have the
incentive  if opentype fonts are open and royalty free or if there is an
alternative that is open and royalty free.

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