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Font abusers spanked

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Font abusers have spoiled a good thing and caused Microsoft to end free downloads of their TrueType fonts for the Web, the company says.

An announcement and discussion thread at OSNews prompted a more in-depth story from ExtremeTech, which quotes a Redmond rep fretting that MS has "found that the downloads were being abused -- repackaged, modified and shipped with commercial products in violation of the EULA."

The un-named rep points out that most people who want the fonts already have them. Thus the only people likely to be affected are those moving for the first time to certain free-software solutions which the new MS licensing regime may be making more attractive than they've previously been.

The MS TTFs have been used widely by open-source users to improve the appearance of fonts under X, which isn't the best, truth be told (not that this would ever lure me back to the Mothership). While building FreeType it's possible to enable anti-aliasing for TTFs, which makes them very pretty indeed -- far nicer than any open-source fonts I've ever used. Many Linux distros have a utility for downloading the fonts from MS, but these no longer work.

So what's a tuxer to do? Well I just happen to have a Windows image on my slave HDD (I need to verify worms, viruses and malicious scripts from time to time, after all), so I installed them on my Linux drive from the fonts directory there. If that's not convenient, it shouldn't be too long before several dozen archives appear on the Web, or some enterprising coder hacks out a little import application that will extract them from your friend's Windows CD (hint).

Ultimately, this is probably all for the best. While it's undoubtedly irritating to see a much-appreciated resource coldly and suddenly withdrawn by the Beast merely to make alternatives to its licensing extortion less attractive, it's high time that the open-source community got serious about developing some really handsome fonts.

A bit of warning certainly would have been appreciated so that plans might have been laid; but no one can rely on something merely granted, or expect the Beast to refrain from any behavior it reckons might disrupt open-source development. ®

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