The subject is a touch sensationalist. It’s users who are blindly removing software without considering the impact of their actions which is causing the broken systems, not a licensing disagreement from a decade (!) ago.
I suspect people are blindly following guides which recommend using vrms, and then purging everything it lists. I further believe that if people realised what they were doing, they might think twice.
So I think we should educate users. Let them know that the vrms package comes from debian, where they have opinions about the freedom of fonts-ubuntu. Further, we could educate them that we don’t believe it’s non-free. Empower people with knowledge.
Given vrms is intentionally opinionated, and opinions differ, I feel we should also in parallel consider patching vrms, yes.
The Ubuntu archive is considered an authoritative source of info, so educating users about this matter is easier said than done.
Ok, I submitted a bug report and a merge request to Debian. Contrary to the view of the person who quickly responded to (and prematurely closed) the bug, that’s the most reasonable place to handle it. Dealing with it on the Ubuntu side only would prevent us from sync’ing the source going forward, and would probably not be worth it.