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Re: Fonts WG Charter feedback

From: Thomas Lord <lord@emf.net>
Date: Mon, 06 Jul 2009 16:26:10 -0700
To: John Hudson <tiro@tiro.com>
Cc: "www-font@w3.org" <www-font@w3.org>
Message-Id: <1246922770.6388.129.camel@dell-desktop.example.com>
Mr. Hudson,

I want to commend you publicly for being
the first person, at least that I've seen, from the
dissenting portion of the type design side of things 
to actually give a  responsive answer to me.   You 
didn't defame my character.  You didn't distract with
the shock of distasteful and inappropriate mentions of child
molestation.  You actually spoke to the issues at 
hand.  Your contribution to this debate is a breath of
fresh air, in my book.  I hope that I succeed in honoring
it in my response.

I take this quote to really be the heart of your
objection to TTF/OTF support required by a Recommendation
from W3C, regardless of what else the Recommendation requires:

(Quoting you:)

   So what pisses me off, as a type designer,
   when I see fonts being used  without license is
   not the loss of revenue -- which might not have
   existed since these people might never have paid
   -- nor the reduction in the market value of the 
   fonts, but the knowledge that someone is benefiting
   from my work, is enjoying the value that my work adds
   to whatever it is that they are making, is exploiting
   my creative contribution, and is giving me absolutely
   nothing in return, not even respect. That this person
   is quite probably profiting financially from the work
   to which my typeface design is adding value makes it
   worse.


   Now, it seems to me that browser makers are also
   looking to benefit from the work of typeface designers
   while offering nothing in return. [....]


If we boil that down, you object to circumstances
which have people:

   [...]benefiting from my work [..] enjoying
   value that my work adds [...] [yet] giving me
   absolutely nothing in return, not even respect.
   [....] [Browser makers are an example.]

The problem is that TTF/OTF is not your work.
Nor are all type designs commonly exchanged in
TTF/OTF your work.  Nor or all such type designs
restrictively licensed.

A Recommendation that requires TTF/OTF, perhaps along
with an additional format, is not benefiting
from your work per se.  It is benefiting from the works
of many who invested in TTF/OTF without sharing your
particular concerns, including the makers of permissively
licensed fonts.

Nothing in such a Recommendation would compel you to
permit the release of *your* type designs to the web
in the form of TTF/OTF files.   In the TTF/OTF+_____
options, you could release your fonts to the web in
some other format, whose details we can separately
consider.

You are left with only the concern that people will
use your type designs in an unauthorized way - yet 
you already have that concern with or without such
a Recommendation.   

Regards,
-t




On Mon, 2009-07-06 at 15:03 -0700, John Hudson wrote:
> Thomas Lord wrote:
> 
> > I also understand that the font vendors object to
> > licensing their fonts for the web in TTF/OTF format
> > because they perceive that that would lead to rampant,
> > unauthorized use of those fonts.  If my understanding
> > is incorrect, surely you can point out why.
> 
> > I interpolate, reasonably I think, that such unauthorized
> > use would be objectionable to these vendors because it 
> > would lower the use value of renting a font from them.
> > If that is not the main concern, let me know.
> 
> Thomas, there are different kinds of font vendors, and I doubt if they 
> share a primary concern in this regard. Font resellers are likely to be 
> primarily motivated as you describe, but then these resellers have in 
> their turn devalued fonts by treating them as commodities, so I don't 
> have a lot of sympathy for them. The closer you get to the people who 
> actually design the typefaces, the more complex the concerns become, 
> because something other than disinterested money-making is at stake.
> 
> Let's talk for a minute about what a font is. A font is a carrier format 
> for a typeface design; depending on how tightly the design is tied to 
> its implementation in a font, we can say that the font embodies the 
> typeface. A typeface is a tool that adds value by articulating and 
> enriching text. A typeface adds value to typographic design, to graphic 
> design and to publishing, regardless of medium. That individual 
> typefaces add value through their individuality is obvious: if they 
> didn't, we wouldn't be having this conversation because Verdana would be 
> all anyone needed or wanted. Through this added value, typeface 
> designers make creative contribution to other kinds of design, to 
> typographic communication and to publishing. [I prefer this notion of 
> creative or intellectual contribution to the more common idea of 
> intellectual property.]
> 
> A little while ago, on this list, someone raised the old analogy of 
> music downloads. I've never been convinced that this is a good analogy, 
> whether one is making it to argue for or against DRM. Music is a 
> consumable; it exists primarily for people to listen to and enjoy. Fonts 
> are not consumables, they are tools, and only serious dweebish 
> collectors want fonts just to look at. People want fonts so that they 
> can use them, and when they use them that adds value to the things that 
> they are making.
> 
> So what pisses me off, as a type designer, when I see fonts being used 
> without license is not the loss of revenue -- which might not have 
> existed since these people might never have paid -- nor the reduction in 
> the market value of the fonts, but the knowledge that someone is 
> benefiting from my work, is enjoying the value that my work adds to 
> whatever it is that they are making, is exploiting my creative 
> contribution, and is giving me absolutely nothing in return, not even 
> respect. That this person is quite probably profiting financially from 
> the work to which my typeface design is adding value makes it worse.
> 
> 
> Now, it seems to me that browser makers are also looking to benefit from 
> the work of typeface designers while offering nothing in return. It's 
> easy for them: they add a bit of code to their browsers, present cool 
> new features to their users, and let the font vendors and owners carry 
> all the risk. Actually, it isn't even a risk, its an 'unintended effect' 
> about which our opinions are 'pragmatically irrelevant'. The use of 
> fonts on the web is going to turn the web into a giant font distribution 
> system. Of the browser makers, only Microsoft (and to a much lesser 
> extent perhaps Apple) has reason to be concerned about this, because 
> they're the only company that both makes a browser and has invested very 
> large sums of money in fonts to add value to their operating system and 
> applications. Where are the Opera fonts? Where are the Mozilla fonts? 
> Where are the Google fonts? These browser makers have no stake in fonts, 
> so it is no wonder that they, plainly, don't give a damn about what 
> happens to fonts.
> 
> John Hudson
Received on Monday, 6 July 2009 23:26:51 GMT

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