W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > June 2009

Re: New work on fonts at W3C

From: Brad Kemper <brad.kemper@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 2009 09:22:32 -0700
Cc: www-style@w3.org, Mikko Rantalainen <mikko.rantalainen@peda.net>
Message-Id: <AF0720BE-5B45-4E69-B2F8-7350A49D672C@gmail.com>
To: Adam Twardoch <list.adam@twardoch.com>

On Jun 16, 2009, at 3:33 PM, Adam Twardoch wrote:

> Brad Kemper wrote:
>> It would seem that that they also want to re-charge us for the same
>> fonts we already paid for once
>
> Nice try :) Not sure whom you mean by "they".

Generally, large foundries with large commercial catalogs, but based  
on the specifics of the Monotype article that Adam linked to:

http://ir.monotypeimaging.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=387305

I really don't know if this is the beginning of a trend for other  
foundries or not.

> You can standardize on
> technical solutions (which we are trying to do here) but I don't think
> standardizing business models will be reasonable.

Yes, but it is the foundry's business model that is being used as the  
argument for why we should use a wrapper format such as EOT. That  
makes it fair game to discuss the validity of that argument.

> You have been free to use any libre fonts you want, and you will
> continue to do so. But the choice is limited, and will remain to be. I
> have not seen any single libre typeface that would be a better design
> than any reasonably good commercial text face. There are many  
> opensource
> software projects that are clearly better than commercial solutions,  
> but
> with fonts, it seems that the opposite is the case (and believe me,  
> I'm
> very interested for good libre fonts to exist).

I agree that the choice is currently limited, but I've seen some very  
high quality libre fonts, and I expect to see more as new versions of  
browsers allow embedding of standard-format fonts, and as some font  
publishers realize they can fund their work by selling copies that  
standards-based modern browsers can display.

Given a choice of exactly the right font available only as EOT, and  
another font in TT format licensed for more standard font embedding  
(licensed to a limited number of Web servers, with no direct links to  
the font in the page of those servers) and closer to what I want than  
what is commonly found on most desktops, I would choose the latter,  
even if they both cost the same. This opens up new market  
opportunities for those who want to take the chance.

> [...] EOT format is
> a "mental safety switch" for the current commercial font vendors,  
> which
> would allow them to open up their font licensing policies.

There are other ways of providing that mental safety switch, including  
CORS. Anyone who would view the page source for the CSS that links to  
the font, and then copy the URL to download the font, is not going to  
be deterred or mentally switched at all from going one step further  
and unwrapping the font from EOT.

> Before the introduction of PostScript and Fontographer, a font would
> cost 300-500 dollars per single style, and was tied to a proprietary
> typesetting mechanism. But PostScript opened a new market, which  
> forced
> the prices down, increased the competition, fueled innovation, brought
> completely new font vendors to life. Originally, the PostScript Type 1
> format had some protection features, but after a few years, this
> protection was removed (or actually, publicly specified). But the
> transitional period (with the protection mechanism) was necessary for
> the big foundries to "open up" their libraries, convert them into
> PostScript fonts, and release in this format.
>
> When OpenType was introduced ten years ago, the same had happened.  
> Fonts
> got cheaper: before OpenType, you would need to buy 30 fonts to get
> Western, CE and Cyrillic characters, oldstyle numerals and small caps
> for a family of several styles. Today, you just buy 5 or 6 fonts --  
> but
> each of the new, expanded OpenType fonts costs about the same as  
> each of
> the old Type 1 fonts, of which you needed five times as many.

Seems to me that the foundries can skip the foolish steps of 1) vastly  
overcharging for their fonts, 2) selling fonts in proprietary formats,  
and 3) using DRM principals, and instead just jump right into making  
the money that they currently leave on the table. Perhaps the older,  
more conservative companies do not want to move that swiftly into a  
new age. Fine; that it their prerogative. But CSS standards, which  
also move slow, should not be expected to conform to those fears when  
they have better solutions that younger, nimbler companies will likely  
take advantage of.

> But the key point for you is: you will never be *forced* to use web
> fonts. If the web browsers do nothing, the major commercial foundries
> won't do anything either, and the situation will look the same as it
> looks now.

Just because older major foundries may insist of dragging their feet  
does not mean that the situation will look the same in a few years.  
Perhaps they will be pulled, kicking and screaming, into the new  
century, or perhaps they will be replaced. And it is hardly fair to  
say that the Web browsers are doing nothing. Quite the contrary, from  
my vantage point. EOT has been around what, a decade or so? Monotype  
is finally licensing their fonts for EOT presumably because they see a  
threat (instead of an opportunity) from what the browser publishers  
ARE doing.

> Except that a smaller number of interesting and innovative fonts  
> will be
> produced.

Could be. But those that are produced, with more liberal licensing,  
will extend the possibilities for Web designers much more than EOT  
ever did during its long, slow attempt at being relevant (which it  
failed at).

> But believe me: there are MANY people out there who won't mind  
> paying an
> upgrade for their corporate ID font licenses that will let them use  
> the
> same fonts in print and on the web *IF THEY CAN*. I.e., if the browser
> makers implement a format that will allow commercial font foundries to
> "open up". That is, EOT.

As I indicated, that would likely include the organization I work for.  
But we would be much more likely to do so for a format that worked  
with 99% of the people coming to our site (browsers that support an  
open format, and those that support EOT) than one that only worked  
with 30-40% (that is, EOT).
Received on Thursday, 18 June 2009 16:23:12 GMT

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