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

From: Thomas Phinney <tphinney@adobe.com>
Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2008 15:07:14 -0800
To: "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <6D096C8718FA4241B934489A5E1CE1420118E2DE6490@nambx04.corp.adobe.com>

Geoffrey Sneddon wrote:

> But there again, what DRM you use is surely irrelevant when the
> majority of fonts shipped are DRM free (as no major OS supports DRM'd
> fonts), and those can be freely uploaded and pirated? If I wanted to
> pirate a font, would I really look for a website that uses it and get
> it from there, or would I look on a torrent tracker? Even if I saw a
> font on a website I wanted, I would then have its name (assuming
> people use the font's real name in @font-face, which I assume in
> general would be the case) and could find it on a torrent tracker.
> Unless you can DRM all copies of a font it serves no good, and when in
> this case (web fonts) the subset of shipped fonts DRM'd for web use
> the DRM would have to be open, it would easy to remove.
>
> DRM of fonts serves absolutely no use. It will not stop piracy
> whatsoever. DRM of video has not helped (even VHS supports DRM). DRM
> of music has not helped. How will DRM of fonts be any different?

I have no doubt that "real DRM" such as that used for DVDs does reduce piracy. But that's not what's being proposed here.

(BTW, Adobe has twice had "real DRM" for fonts in the past, first for Mac Type 1 fonts back in the 80s, second for Japanese CID-keyed fonts back in the 90s. Each time we killed it because it was too much of a pain for end users and a lot of work all around. Adobe developed a somewhat weaker font DRM approach for OpenType, but never implemented it. Since then we have successfully persuaded at least one major partner *not* to implement "real DRM" for fonts, because we think it's a bad idea.)

You seem to assume that type foundries would be shipping fonts as web fonts. Some would doubtless do so, but for many of us, we'd continue to ship the original unprotected versions to our end users. Certainly at Adobe it had not occurred to us to remove that option. We just want the original completely unprotected font converted to a marginally-more-protected web font *by the end user we licensed the font to*, prior to them sticking said font on a web server.

In terms of what Adobe has planned to date, this were video, it would be as if we were selling DVDs without encryption, and we'd just require the user to add "DRM lite" to any videos made from those DVDs which they want to play on web servers.

So nothing we have currently planned would impede the technical ability of the people we license fonts to, to do whatever they like with the fonts, as they'd have the original fonts, just as they do today.

I wouldn't rule out selling fonts pre-converted to whatever the ultimate web font format ends up being. The web fonts market hasn't even been born yet, so it would be premature to do so, and that might end up being an interesting option. But that's not our current plan.

> Is there no way to convince the foundries that DRM will not curb
> piracy whatsoever?

I am dubious at best. Probably more important would be to come up with reasonable estimates for the size of the potential market for web fonts.

Lots of folks are going on about how web fonts are just additional money for font vendors, and that if they don't pursue web fonts - even without any protections at all - they will be missing out. Meanwhile, most font vendors are unsure how much money this new market will generate for them, but they are pretty darn sure that letting their fonts out the door as completely unprotected web fonts will reduce their *existing* business by making casual piracy easier.

Perhaps additional casual piracy is inevitable and they just have to "suck it up." But I do not believe that the majority of font vendors are being crazy or irrational here. Cautious, yes. Shortsighted perhaps, if the potential web font revenue is huge and the added piracy for print use is minimal. But not crazy or irrational.

Cheers,

T
Received on Thursday, 13 November 2008 23:07:52 GMT

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