SIL License applicability for linguistic "font"

Hello all. I am writing to seek clarifications on the SIL License 1.1.

I am working with Cantonese linguistics, and have generated a comprehensive set of colored SVGs to show pronunciation. It makes use of OpenType features to achieve dynamic substitutions. An example is shown below.

The base SVGs for the Chinese text uses Adobe Source, which carries the SIL License.

My significant contribution here is on the computational linguistic front, where pronunciations were generated/typeset for each glyph, and in font-engineering. This is certainly not “making money by simply redistributing the fonts”.

What I need clarification on here is:

  1. Does this cantonese “font” need to be released under SIL License?
  2. In the case that you suggest the SIL License be applicable, can I sell the new package? (If not, how could I be compensated for the linguistics / engineering work?)


Hi Jon,

That’s a cool project!

Section 3 of the OFL-FAQ answers most of your questions. Since you have based your font on an OFL font it must be distributed under the OFL. You cannot sell the new font on its own - see FAQ 3.3.

Your expertise and contributions are certainly valuable. You can receive funding from others towards the development - for example, through crowdfunding - but the fonts themselves must be freely distributed without charge.