Adam Stacoviak

Phantom Open Emoji Kickstarter needs your help and will be open source

I just heard about this Kickstarter called Phantom Open Emoji.

The plan is to create a completely free and open set of emoji that anybody can use in any project without a fee and without any restrictive conditions.

Much like Font Awesome, Phantom Open Emoji will use a combination of the SIL open font license, MIT license for any code, and the CC 3.0 license to make it completely free for commercial use. Distribution is said to be from a yet to be named GitHub repo, providing a fork of gemoji that replaces all the unlicensed emoji with the newly created/liberated versions.


The word "emoji" is Japanese, written 「絵文字」. The 'e' in emoji 「絵」 means picture, painting or image, specifically one that is drawn or painted and not a photograph or generated image. 'Moji' 「文字」 means letter or typographic character. So "emoji" literally means "picture character" or "picture letter".

The Problem

Emoji are usually distributed as a font or as a packaged set of glyphs or images. Just like fonts and image libraries they are copyrighted and licensed. Emoji licenses are likewise expensive and have unrealistic and crazy license conditions and restrictions. All the "free" emoji we could find were either awful or incomplete. And as it stands now a lot of people have decided to just hope Apple wouldn't sue them and started using the Apple set without permission (that we know of).

The solution

We want to create a full set of ~900+ emoji completely free to use, free to distribute and open to modify without any restrictive conditions or terms. We want this emoji set to NOT be based on the "new" international look with yellow smileys and multiple emoji referencing one generic image; but rather to be based on and more closely resemble the high quality Japanese emoji sets. The issue of political correctness does arise, but check our reach-goals for a solution.

As of today their conservative goal of $5,000 will likely be met. With $3,331 pledged in 6 days and 52 days to go, it’s not a matter of will they reach their goal - it’s a matter of will the entire community support their effort.

What do you think? Do you plan to back this Kickstarter? I’m still on the fence because many apps have already added support for the current gemoji and thus far haven’t been sued by Apple or others. Maybe the risk of getting sued is a moot point. Also, the current set is so iconic already.

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