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Re: Font license vs. conversion between font formats

From: Tab Atkins Jr. <jackalmage@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 8 Jul 2009 11:21:40 -0500
Message-ID: <dd0fbad0907080921m584679a0i326482683d5a615b@mail.gmail.com>
To: karsten luecke <list@kltf.de>
Cc: www-font@w3.org
On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 8:52 AM, karsten luecke<list@kltf.de> wrote:
> Dear Mr Rantalainen,
>
> it should have become clear in the discussion that type foundries are pragmatic enough to not expect any *real* protection, but do expect some kind of a fence or stop sign.

Yup, and the majority of participants on this list are okay with that.

> The argument is a bit odd:
> -- Web developers declare they want to use commercial fonts
> -- and, together with browser makers, promise a new market to type foundries.
> -- At the same time, the only thing web developers care for, and lament about, is how much work possible conversion of free fonts will be.

Incorrect, and in such a basic way that it's obviously just an attempt
at rhetorical points.  The consideration of libre fonts, while a
constant thread through the conversations, is far from "the only thing
web developers care for".  Otherwise we'd all just say "TTF or bust!"
and leave it at that.

We authors want everything as easy as possible.  The motivation for
this should be obvious - everyone wants their job to be easy if
possible.  TTF/OTF is the easiest possible solution, because it
requires no effort at all.  Thus it's attractive right away.

>From another direction, the entire point of libre content is to
purposely escape the licensing restrictions and limitations
originating from laws created when free, perfect mass-copying wasn't
possible, or even dreamed of.  To be forced to still bow and scrape to
the demands of the 'enemy' even when we're sharing things that are
*meant* to be shared is sort of a slap in the face to the movement.
It's more of a philosophical point than a pragmatic one, though there
are pragmatic concerns mixed in as well (slippery slope and all).

So, if you wanted a decent explanation of why people keep trying to
package raw TTF/OTF into the proposals, there you have it.

> As to the latter point:
> The according tool(s) would make conversion a quick drag-and-drop operation, possibly presenting a "Sure this is a free font? Mind that conversion of commercial fonts usually is not permitted." and asking for a click for confirmation. (As an analogy, before packaging documents e.g. for the printer, InDesign informs the designer that EULAs may not allow transferring fonts to other parties.) This would be done once per project. (How many projects do you start per day?)
> And if web developers license commercial fonts for use on the web as they claim they want (the promise of a new market) they are of course provided with web-fonts in the according format -- no extra conversion work.
> There is no unbearable burden.

Yup, when buying fonts directly from a foundry there's no burden at
all (as long as the format still works out of the box, without server
config).  The issue is a requirement that libre fonts be forced to go
through such a conversion process that is designed to mollify
copyright holders, when libre content is explicitly against copyright.

While many of us would like to have everything just happen in TTF/OTF
for simplicity, we're pretty much all willing to accept a more
restrictive format to use when required.  That's why 2 format
proposals are being batted around now.

> I start wondering what the real motives *against* an exclusive format for web-fonts are. Fear of a new situation when you need to care not only for text and image rights, but also for font rights?

To the extent that we care about text and image rights today, we do so
without a special format designed solely to make the text and image
producers happy.  Text goes over the wire as plaintext, images as jpg,
gif, pdf, or svg.  Maybe they're compressed beforehand, generally with
a freely-available algorithm.  I would *love* if the font situation
was identical, because it would mean that I just link to font files.
Unfortunately that doesn't seem quite acceptable enough at this point,
so we're going through this process on www-font.

>That you need to get and pay for a proper font license? After all, the idea of licensing fonts seems rather new to web developers who so far had to rely on quasi-free system fonts.

While it is indeed rather new due to the 'loophole' we've been
exploiting with local fonts, that's not the reason.  We're used to the
idea of licenses and such; we *are* technically inclined, after all.
I won't repeat the reasoning I put earlier into this email, but there
you go.

~TJ
Received on Wednesday, 8 July 2009 16:22:41 GMT

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