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Re: Next step?

From: John Hudson <tiro@tiro.com>
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2009 17:29:54 -0700
Message-ID: <4A835E82.4040603@tiro.com>
CC: www-font <www-font@w3.org>
Ben Weiner wrote:

> And such it is. But there is room here for the existing and the future 
> fonts -- whether openly licensed or not -- which are not subject to such 
> a business policy decision to be linked directly, without the 
> unnecessary protection of a wrapper. This is an entirely separate 
> concern from the way that fonts which do need protection should be 
> handled...

It is not 'entirely separate'; it is not separate at all except in a 
quite abstract way. The reality on the ground, which we live with every 
day, is that the vast majority of font users have no clue what the 
licensing terms covering those fonts are. Ergo, for the vast majority of 
users there is no difference between an openly licensed font and a 
restrictively licensed font. A lot of factors over twenty years have 
contributed to this situation, and we shouldn't pretend that this 
doesn't have an impact on choosing appropriate technical solutions.

We have two things: free fonts and non-free fonts. We need a technical 
solution for serving fonts on the web. The majority of users cannot tell 
the difference between the two things. One of the things does not need 
protection. The other thing, as your own message acknowledges, needs 
protection (however minimal). The latter thing needs protection so that 
it will not be treated as if it were the other thing, i.e. the non-free 
font needs to be protected against being treated as a free font. The 
free font, on the other hand, does not need to be protected against 
being treated as if it were a non-free font, because its a) its freedom 
is explicit, b) fonts are demonstrably more likely to be treated by 
users as if they are free than as if they are non-free, i.e. this is the 
default assumption of most users, and c) the channels for distributing 
free fonts tend to diverse, meaning that a more obviously free version 
is always accessible even if one might appear to be less free than it 
should be. Ergo, the balance of *responsibility* should be to protecting 
the non-free font from being treated as if it were free, rather than 
vice versa. This is why I consider naked font linking irresponsible as a 
technical solution.

> I apologise for being an optimist as well as an idealist.

As you should. I make no apology for being Augustinian. :)

JH
Received on Thursday, 13 August 2009 00:30:40 GMT

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