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Embeddable fonts in Communicator

From: Erik van Blokland <evb@KNOWARE.NL>
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 97 20:48:16 +0200
Message-Id: <199702201948.UAA25156@kalvermarkt.denhaag.dataweb.net>
To: "w3 webfonts" <www-font@w3.org>
Fahrner quoting Andrew Joslin:
>The outline information in the PFR is encrypted to prevent piracy. Hackers
>could conceivably crack the PFR's but they'd have to collect a lot of them
>and do major tweakage in Fontographer before they could assemble a maybe
>complete character set including redoing hinting, character mapping and
>kerning (can you spell get a life?). I think the labor involved and
>difficulty in  assembling COMPLETE coherent character sets will make font
>pirating from PFR's a miserable occupation. 

The same methods Truedoc uses to assemble a font these fonts can be 
disassembled. Character collecting can easily be automated, especially 
when the whole font machine is accessible by writing a Netscape-plugin 
for it. Subsetting is a compression method, not a piracy preventer. Then 
the whole security hinges on the encryption, which can be broken in 10 
minutes, as Clive has proven.

This might not even be necessary when authoring software emerges that 
allows  Truedoc fonts that arrive from one webpage to be added to another 
one. Recycling fontdata. Perhaps not all characters are present, but 
perhaps not all are needed either. Current descriptions of 
Truedoc/Netscape systems do not specify whether Truedoc fonts can be 
re-used, neither do they promise that this will not be the case in the 
future, neither is there a garantee that Truedoc will not be licensed to 
companies with shady background in type.

The clever semantics of Bitstream are getting old. A file containing a 
typeface description is a font by any standard. Calling the Truedoc fonts 
'portable font resources' is a way of being gramatically correct when 
saying Truedoc documents don't contain fonts. But lets not kid ourselves, 
for all intents and purposes, PFR's are fonts. They're just as portable 
as Truetype fonts or type1 fonts, and contain just as many curves and 
serifs. 
PFR relies on a Truedoc rasteriser being present on the client system, 
just other fonts like to be rastered by their own rasterisers. There is 
nothing remarkably portable about Truedoc, you still have to be in luck 
that some company somewhere decides to write software for your platform. 
Whether that's Microsoft, Adobe or Bitstream does not really matter. 
Their approach to intellectual property does matter. Microsoft and Adobe 
are at least trying to address the issues. Bitstream only invented a 
blanket excuse to the entire system and ignores it for the rest. Note 
that Bitstream has become yet another internet wannabe, and has severed 
most ties to their typographic past. The legal issues tied to Truedoc in 
most countries not USA will certainly be investigated and possibly tried 
in court. It's curious that Netscape is getting tied up with such a risky 
technology.

Bitstream has used the argument that Truedoc fonts are inseperable from 
the document as a way to illustrate that the PFR's really are not fonts. 
But this is losing credibility, as PFR fonts are now downloaded 
_separately_ from a server 'just like a gif or jpeg'. That means that 
unless something incredibly complicated (signatures?) happens, PFR fonts 
can be linked to by any other document as well, perhaps from an entirely 
different domain. 
Then the world needs only one single PFR on a site for every typeface 
used in the world! Subsetting this font can be easily subverted by making 
a document that contains all characters. PFR fonts can be offered as 
incentives, they can be traded, posted, mailed, reused. It's piracy 
coated with a thin layer of credibility. Serious flaws that threatens all 
type manufacturers.

As long as fonts cost money, there will be an incentive for getting them 
for free. Truedoc fonts in Netscape make that a whole lot easier. Better 
typographic capabilities for the web are quite necessary. But whether it 
is worth to put the whole type industry at risk for a small temporary 
advantage over someone else's browser is highly doubtful.

erik van blokland, LettError: Typestuff
      letterror  http://www.letterror.com
Received on Thursday, 20 February 1997 18:43:53 GMT

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