W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-font@w3.org > July to September 2009

Re: Rumours of the death of "new, professionally designed typefaces" are perhaps exaggerated?

From: Chris Fynn <cfynn@gmx.net>
Date: Wed, 05 Aug 2009 15:57:20 +0600
Message-ID: <4A795780.6030105@gmx.net>
To: www-font <www-font@w3.org>
CC: John Hudson <tiro@tiro.com>, Ben Weiner <ben@readingtype.org.uk>
John Hudson wrote:

> Ben Weiner wrote:

>>> From my perspective, I see a number of companies that have no 
>>> investment in font IP implementing naked font linking, and a company 
>>> that has invested millions of dollars in font IP rejecting that 
>>> approach.

>> Is that *all* you see? No other players on the scene?

> No, that's not all I see. But in terms of dismissing the charge of 
> 'martinet', it seemed sufficient. The point is that there are perfectly 
> valid reasons why numerous players are opposed to naked font linking, 
> and the fact that naked font linking is convenient for people who do not 
> have to worry about font IP, either because they don't have any or only 
> deal with free fonts, does not make it a viable interoperable format.


As far as most ordinary users are concerned, "interoperability" does not
just mean interoperability between browsers but interoperability between
other applications as well. From that perspective the most interoperable
font format *is* TTF/OTF ~ and it is this very interoperability that
some font vendors are scared of.

Isn't it rather ironic that, at a time when we are being told the
difference between the desktop and the web is evaporating, we are
proposing new font formats that attempt to freeze that difference?

Nobody has yet given a convincing argument as to why font files deserve
some special treatment or protection.  The sky is *not* going to fall in
if raw TTF/OTF fonts are permitted. IMO raw fonts are overall in a much
*better* position than e.g. music files.

As I've said before Music files are mostly listened to off-line in
private ~ the playing  part pretty well invisible to the outside world.
In this situation playing or use of illegitimately obtained music files
is almost impossible to detect or prosecute. On the other hand fonts
only have value when used in publications - which will increasingly mean
when used in public on the web. In this realm use, legitimate or
illegitimate, is  completely visible and easy to detect.

IMO proper licensing is in the end always going to be the best and only
real "protection" for font developers and vendors. No commercial website
is going to put up a font for which it doesn't have a license that
permits this use ~ it is just too easy to get caught.  Doesn't this fact
offer far more protection to font vendors than any of the proposed
webfont formats ever can?

Of course this does not prevent someone downloading a font from the web
and using in a print publication where illegitimate use is difficult to
detect and prove ~ and font vendors may understandably be concerned
about the market for fonts to be used in printed publications being
harmed if people can grab the fonts off the web.

I don't think this will happen. Those who are now not prepared pay for a
proper license to use fonts in print won't start paying to use them
tomorrow - though they might pay to use fonts on the web because the
risk of getting caught is so much greater. Illegitimate copies of
commercial fonts are already so easy for these people to obtain, even
raw fonts "embedded" in websites is not going to make it any easier.

Those who now properly pay for fonts they use in print will continue to
do so - and will also license fonts to use on the web. Some individual
foundries may suffer as the market for fonts transitions from print to
the web, e-books and other devices - but overall I think this has to be
seen as representing an opportunity not something to be feared.

I don't buy the argument that users need a garden fence to protect
them from as it were accidentally trespassing. Users are intelligent
enough to know when they are making illegal copies of copyright music,
videos, text or fonts. Certainly most web authors are fully aware when
they are using content they shouldn't be using. I also don't buy the
argument that fonts deserve some special form of protection enshrined in
a W3C standard that digital text, photographs, music video and other
media don't have.

That said, although I'd like to see cross-browser support for raw
TTF/OTF - because ultimately that would be the most interoperable
format, and later also for something like ZOT; right now I'm hoping for
a consensus on supporting EOT Lite (under another name of course) mainly
because it will provide @font-face support to the most users in the
least amount of time and also because a significant number of major
commercial font vendors seem prepared to license fonts for the web in
that format.

Of course EOTL is a compromise ~ but isn't that just what we are seeking
here? EOTL support, especially in old versions of IE, will be less than
perfect, but that can be lived with. I dont think the single font per
family limitation of IE is quite as much a problem for users of complex
Indic scripts as it may seem to be for others simply because many
complex script fonts at present lack bold, italic and bold-italic styles.

- CF
Received on Thursday, 6 August 2009 03:30:02 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Saturday, 11 June 2011 00:14:03 GMT