SIL Open Font License

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SIL Open Font License
AuthorSIL International
Latest version1.1
PublishedFebruary 2007; 17 years ago (2007-02)
Debian FSG compatibleYes[1]
FSF approvedYes[2]
OSI approvedYes[3]

The SIL Open Font License (or OFL in short) is one of the major open font licenses, which allows embedding, or "bundling",[4] of the font in commercially sold products.[5]

OFL is a free and open source license.[6][7] It was created by SIL International, the organization behind Ethnologue.


The Open Font License was created by SIL International employees Victor Gaultney and Nicolas Spalinger.[8][9] Gaultney had previously designed the Gentium font and was unsatisfied with existing font licenses.[8]

The Open Font License was designed for use with many of SIL's Unicode fonts, including Gentium Plus, Charis SIL, and Andika.[6] The license was in a "public review" stage between 2005 and 2007[9] and version 1.1 was published in February 2007.[9]

Prior to the release of the OFL, the Bitstream Vera fonts had been released in 2003 under most of the same terms and conditions.[10]

Open-source fonts are a popular choice among designers, and most open-source fonts utilize the Open Font License.[11] For example, it was used to license a font made by the US government.[12]


The Open Font License is a free software license, and as such permits the fonts to be used, modified, and distributed freely (so long as the resulting fonts remain under the Open Font License). However, the copyright holder may declare the font's name as being a "Reserved Font Name", which modified versions then cannot bear. (This includes subsetting for web fonts.) The license permits covered fonts to be freely embedded in documents under any terms. The only stipulation is that fonts cannot be sold on their own, though they may be included in software bundles for sale.[6]

The license is considered free by the Free Software Foundation (FSF)[2] and the Debian project.[1] Although the license requires fonts to be bundled with software when sold, FSF states that this requirement is harmless because it can be satisfied with a simple hello world program.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The DFSG and Software Licenses
  2. ^ a b c d FSF: Licenses for Fonts – SIL Open Font License 1.1
  3. ^ "SIL OPEN FONT LICENSE (OFL-1.1) | Open Source Initiative".
  4. ^ Spalinger, Nicolas; Gaultney, Victor (November 27, 2023). "Question: 1.15 What about distributing fonts with a document? Within a compressed folder structure? Is it distribution, bundling or embedding?". OFL-FAQ web version (1.1-update7). SIL International.
  5. ^ Garish, Matt; Gylling, Markus (2013). Epub 3 Best Practices (PDF). O’Reilly Media, Inc. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-449-32914-3. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 3, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c "OFL fonts". SIL Open Font License. Retrieved December 11, 2023.
  7. ^ "Open Source License Comparison Grid" (PDF). CMU. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 21, 2017. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Suehle, Ruth. "Then, now, and the future of open source fonts". Retrieved March 5, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c "SIL Open Font License (OFL)".
  10. ^ "Bitstream Vera Fonts – April 16, 2003 – GNOME". Retrieved March 5, 2021.
  11. ^ Wagner, Josh; Stein, Joel (August 21, 2020). "Goldman Sachs Has Money. It Has Power. And Now It Has a Font". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 5, 2021.
  12. ^ "Why the US Government Just Made Its Own Font, Open Sans". Retrieved March 5, 2021.

External links[edit]