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RE: svg fonts as web font format?

From: Levantovsky, Vladimir <Vladimir.Levantovsky@MonotypeImaging.com>
Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2008 14:35:27 -0500
Message-ID: <E955AA200CF46842B46F49B0BBB83FF2767D6C@wil-email-01.agfamonotype.org>
To: "Philip TAYLOR" <P.Taylor@Rhul.Ac.Uk>
Cc: "Gustavo Ferreira" <gustavo.ferreira@hipertipo.net>, <www-style@w3.org>

Philip TAYLOR wrote:
> Levantovsky, Vladimir wrote:
> > Plus, conversion
> > of original font to SVG would in general be considered a 
> production of 
> > derivative work that is expressly forbidden by many (if not 
> all) font 
> > licenses.
> Much as I am (in general) on your side in this debate, I do 
> think that that last statement is related to one of the prime 
> causes of opposition to font DRM.  If I buy the TrueType 
> version of Linotype Times-Roman, should I really need to buy 
> another licence if one of my applications requires instead 
> that the font be in Type-1 format ?  I believe not, just as I 
> believe that I have every right to save a commercial DVD in 
> DixV format /for my own personal use/, regardless of any 
> copy-protection ("DRM") that the DVD producers have inserted 
> to protect against such "illicit" activity.  This is at the 
> heart of the defence by the authors of DVDshrink and similar 
> software : such software is specifically intended to allow 
> owners to make personal backups in a more compact format, and 
> is /not/ intended to allow illegal copies to be made and distributed.
> Philip TAYLOR


I am [almost] in agreement with you on this, but you also brought up key
points here that one need to consider:
- when you license a font, you can get it in any format you want -
Type1, TrueType, OpenType, you name it. 
- personal use - you are free to convert and make a copy of anything you
legitimately licensed for your personal use.

However, the issue here is *not* about illegal copies - the question was
asked whether a svg font can be used as a substitute format for all
other fonts on the web. In some circumstances, the practice of
converting data from one format to another may not be considered
objectionable. For example, as a font vendor I would be perfectly okay
if you licensed Type1 font and then decided to convert it into OpenType
format using (free) Adobe tools - you can do it yourself, or we can do
it for you. This conversion does not in any way affect the quality of
the typeface, or the functionality of the font you licensed, and I am
cool with it.

The situation with SVG font is somewhat different. The SVG spec says
(and I quote):
"SVG fonts contain unhinted font outlines. Because of this, on many
implementations there will be limitations regarding the quality and
legibility of text in small font sizes. For increased quality and
legibility in small font sizes, content creators may want to use an
alternate font technology, such as fonts that ship with operating
systems or an alternate WebFont format."
It also says:
"a font may also supply substitution and positioning tables that can be
used by a formatter to re-order, combine and position a sequence of
glyphs to make one or more composite glyphs. The combination may be as
simple as a ligature, or as complex as an indic syllable which combines,
usually with some re-ordering, multiple consonants and vowel glyphs."
(Although it doesn't specifically states anywhere that this
functionality is only supported in OpenType fonts, and that conversion
to SVG font would cause the loss of this data.)

Therefore, our font converted to SVG would suffer from loss of quality
and functionality, yet it will still be identified as a font produced by
us using our trademarked name. Again, I am fine if you do it for your
personal use, but if you intend to use it in public and/or for any other
purposes - I would not be okay with it, since instead of using a copy of
the original font you would be using a derivative work of inferior
quality that is identified as if it was an original.

Best regards,

Received on Thursday, 13 November 2008 19:35:16 UTC

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