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Re: Font license vs. conversion between font formats

From: Mikko Rantalainen <mikko.rantalainen@peda.net>
Date: Thu, 09 Jul 2009 16:34:12 +0300
Message-ID: <4A55F1D4.9070506@peda.net>
To: www-font <www-font@w3.org>
Erik van Blokland wrote:
> On 9 jul 2009, at 13:42, Mikko Rantalainen wrote:
>> roadblocks have been circumvented in no time. After that those
>> roadblocks are obstacles only for honest authors, users and browser
>> vendors. They do not prevent even casual copying (because copying tools
>> will be advanced enough).
> 
> Ah, nihilism. I think you'll find most honest authors actually
> interested in licensing and willing to take the required steps to do the
> right thing. Given that any font ever released is one torrent search
> away, foundries still sell fonts. To who? honest authors. These are not
> people who too stoopid to find the torrent, they actually *want* to buy
> our fonts and support our work.

I didn't understand reference to "nihilism" in this context.

As you say, foundries sell fonts to honest people even though any font
can be downloaded. Why does the web font format need any roadblocks to
prevent copying? Aren't honest users already paying for fonts even
though they can technically copy those fonts for free? And dishonest
people will continue copying the fonts (via torrent or by other means)
regardless of those little fences.

> Now then, as you concur the technical part of this webfont proposal is
> so easy it can be implemented as fast as it can be circumvented, I
> really don't see why you're having a hissy fit about it. The domains
> part is optional (read the proposal). Wrapping a font should be trivial
> for you.

It may be trivial but it's still unnecessary extra work for no gain.

If the domains part (rootstrings) are optional, why have those in the
spec at all? I want to make it absolutely clear to font foundries that
they shouldn't expect to be able to set such restrictions.

I want to be honest towards font foundries, too. My message is "if you
license full font data to be used (in any format) on any publicly
accessible web site, anybody can make an unlicensed copy of that font
for their own use and you cannot prevent that. It's not even worth
trying to prevent that".

> The bottom line is. the folks who prefer to find the torrent, lift the
> font from the wrapper, or rewrite the domains are not honest authors.

I agree. And I'm still arguing that only true security can prevent
dishonest people from doing what they want to do. And we cannot have
true security with fonts.

I'm asking again: why have a new format instead of raw TTF/OTF if honest
people are going to pay in any case and dishonest people aren't going to
pay in any case?

> A raw ttf / otf, sent unasked for to the honest reader, ends up
> ready-for-action on the reader's desktop. If the font is not accompanied
> by any declaration of its origin and under which conditions it was
> licensed to the honest author, what conclusion is the honest reader to
> reach? The reader didn't agree on any license. The author didn't list
> any conditions or stipulations. If the reader uses the font, it is not a
> dishonest step, there is no promise broken, no intent ignored.

Excuse me, but how is the raw TTF/OTF file being sent to honest reader
unasked for? Especially so that the file ends up to the readers desktop?

Raw TTF/OTF files do include licensing information as meta-data and if
the operating system that you're thinking of does not display this
metadata to the user (when requested), then you should ask vendor of
that operating system to fix their user interface. However, I don't
really understand how this is relevant to web fonts.

If I find a random file (font or not) on my desktop, I do not assume
that I'm free to copy and redistribute it. I'm pretty sure that any
person aware of copyright law would behave the same way, if they respect
the law.

Modern copyright is activated automatically when a work has been
created. And unless you own the copyright or have suitable license, you
cannot distribute copies of a given work. It's really that simple and
applies to font files, too.

> If my trust in mankind is so far off center that this scheme would not
> work, there is hardly any reason to discuss licensing raw fonts either.

Perhaps I'm an optimist but I trust in mankind to be able to respect the
licensing terms without fake-technological-protection hacks. And you can
sue those that do not respect your terms for copyright infringement.

-- 
Mikko


Received on Thursday, 9 July 2009 13:35:01 GMT

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