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Re: CSS3 @font-face / EOT Fonts - new compromise proposal

From: Aryeh Gregor <Simetrical@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2008 19:30:46 -0500
Message-ID: <7c2a12e20811111630i37d95e6dj6444e8bf62e579ef@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Ian Hickson" <ian@hixie.ch>
Cc: "Dave Singer" <singer@apple.com>, www-style@w3.org

On Tue, Nov 11, 2008 at 7:06 PM, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch> wrote:
> My question is, why do we care? We should be caring about the needs of the
> users and Web developers above all else. And it doesn't seem to me that
> there is a problem faced by these constituencies that is solved by making
> the technology work less well for those constituencies.

But a basic principle of W3C operations is that if implementers refuse
to implement something, it has to be scrapped.  And in this case,
correct me if I'm wrong, Microsoft is not willing to implement
anything that doesn't make font foundries reasonably happy.  That
appears to be why anyone cares.

Of course, the font foundries argue that it really is good for web
designers and users to have access to commercial fonts.  Personally I
think that's untenable, because:

1) Many if not most of the foundries would be forced to allow web
licensing of bare font files, sooner or later, if that was the only
way to tap into a big web font market.  Even if only some did, web
authors who cared would have access to a pretty good selection of
professional fonts in the long term, even if not all of them.

2) 95%+ of users and developers can't tell the difference in
professionalism anyway between the fanciest fonts out there and
something a half-decent amateur cooked up in his basement in his spare
time.  I'm sure some people will take affront at this derogation of
their profession, but it's the fact of the matter.  I have difficulty
telling one font from another unless one does something annoying like
having I and l indistinguishable, and I doubt most people are much
different.

3) Most of those who could tell the difference wouldn't be able to
afford the license fees.  This is the web, not print publication:
budgets are close to zero for most web sites.  And web software
definitely can't use fonts that aren't freely distributable, because
it can't relicense the fonts to end users at the typical prices for
web software.

4) Even if free fonts tend to be a lot worse in some respects, it has
been admitted here that some high-quality professional fonts are
freely licensed (even if they weren't openly developed in the first
place).  That number can only possibly increase, since fonts that are
freely licensed are not likely to be un-licensed (they can't be, if
free means as in speech).  So any lack of font quality is likely to be
of limited duration anyway.

But all the above is worth nothing if Microsoft won't implement it.
Just as any arguments in favor of DRM or patent-encumbered font
technology are worth nothing if Mozilla won't.  The feature could
become a Recommendation if only Mozilla/WebKit/Presto/etc. implemented
it, but if the price is that web authors are forced to package the
same font in two different ways to get it to work in all browsers, is
that worth it?
Received on Wednesday, 12 November 2008 00:31:26 GMT

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