Change of license file when creating a Modified Version

Hi, I have a query with regards to OFL 1.1 license requirements. I understand that I cannot use a Reserved Font Name (RFN) for a modification.Let’s assume I have a “Modified Version” to a Font with an RFN, how do I deal with the obligation to provide the OFL license text and copyright information for the Modified Version ? I am struggeling with certain areas of the FAQ, some seem to suggest to simply generate a new OFL license text and copyright notice with a new “RFN” or other fonts name (not to be confused with the orignal RFN of course) and “credit” or “acknoweledge” the original author somewhere else (although not legally required); some answers seem to hint I should “add” my own copyright info and new name to the existing license file but also leave the original author and RFN in. I undertstand there is als the CHANGELOG but I need to understand how to pass on the license text and copyright notice without this. I assume to simply leave the original copyright owner in the license text and change the name of the fonts only would create some misunderstanding and is not ok. Please explain what I have to do to be compliant. Thanks Sebastian

Hi Sebastian - It sounds like you want to release a modified version of an OFL font that has an RFN. All you have to do is:

  • make your modifications
  • change the font name to avoid using the RFN
  • add your copyright to OFL.txt and to the copyright in the font itself
  • if you wish to declare an additional RFN, add that after the copyright
  • add information on what changes you made to the FONTLOG.txt

At no point do you remove any information that the original author put in the files (copyright, RFNs, FONTLOG entries).

Here’s an example of how you might do this for a derivative of our Andika font that adds Cherokee support:

Copyright (c) 2004-2022 SIL International ( with Reserved Font Names “Andika” and “SIL”.
Cherokee additions copyright (c) 2022 Sebastian XXXXX with Reserved Font Name “YYYYY”.

Does that clarify the process?

Hi Victor,

Thank you for the swift reply.

The envisaged situation is more a mere use of a font for a website or mobile application where only portions of the font may be used (“subsetting”) or for which a font under OFL is converted to another format, which leads in both situations to a “Modified Version” (I understand there may be ways to avoid this but let’s assume we have a “Modified Version”). The Modified Version is distributed (as part of the app when downloaded to the mobile device or through the browser in case of the website).

The website/app user only sees the “output” on his/her screen, there is no pull-down menu for different (named) fonts to choose from, or the like. The only reference to the font name (RFN) is through the license text and copyright info, which should not be changed. Hence it will, despite the modification, remain to refer to the original RFN only (to add own copyrights and an own RFN for just a format change seems overreaching, especially given there are no “copyrights” generated from a merely technical process applied).

We were struggling to understand how to reach compliance with the obligation to cease the use of RFN, if shown only in the license information, and remains unchanged there.

If I understood Section 3 correctly, there is however nothing to be done about it, given the obligation to cease using the RFN only applies to the “primary font name as presented to the users, i.e. if there was a pull-down menu or the like. If there is no such mechanism or specific presentation of the font name displayed, there is nothing additional to be done. Is this correct?


Please read Web Fonts and Reserved Font Names for a thorough discussion of this. Start with the Conclusions section.

Thanks for pointing to this additional document specifically addressing Web Fonts and RFN. The cases addressed there seem to assume a “use” of a RFN in a sense that the font name is prominently presented to the end user when using the application (see also FAQ 5.3). In our case the app/website does provide such form of presentation. The font is used, but the (reserved) font name not, reps. it is not specifically mentioned to the user when using the site, except in the license text which is mandatorily referenced .

I refer to Section 3 (2) of the OFL, which states that a RFN may not be “used” for Modified Versions, but adds: “This restriction only applies to the primary font name as presented to the users.” In this regards, Q 5.3 of the FAQ stated: “What do you mean by “primary name as presented to the user”? Are you referring to the font menu name?

Answer: Yes, this applies to the font menu name and other mechanisms that specify a font in a document.(…)”.

As said, if the website/app does not provide such mechanism, the exception would apply to my understanding. I did not read the reference to a “mechanism that specify a font in a document” as a reference to the license text and the copyright notice including the RFN, which must be passed on with the Modified Version. If the license info were to be understood as such “mechanism”, I am struggling to see how any reference can be made to the original RFN of any Modified Version, as it is requested by the license. Am I mistaken?

(Attachment smime.p7m is missing)


I don’t fully understand what you are trying to do, but I think you’re overcomplicating things. If you are just using the fonts in your web app, even if modifying them slightly (subsetting, etc.) but don’t use the font name to identify the font to the user then you don’t need to do anything. You’re not ‘using’ the RFN at all. The only time you need to be concerned is if your app is customizing a font for the user and giving it to them in some usable form (such as a .ttf file) - anything that would be reasonably described as redistribution. In that case you do need to change the font name to avoid any RFNS. Is that clear? If not then I’ll need to know more specifics about what your app does with the fonts.