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Re: New work on fonts at W3C

From: Adam Twardoch <list.adam@twardoch.com>
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 2009 18:50:12 +0200
Message-ID: <4A3A7044.1040202@twardoch.com>
To: Brad Kemper <brad.kemper@gmail.com>
CC: "Levantovsky, Vladimir" <Vladimir.Levantovsky@MonotypeImaging.com>, www-style@w3.org, Mikko Rantalainen <mikko.rantalainen@peda.net>
Brad Kemper wrote:
>     Monotype hereby grants licensing rights to existing license-holders
>     of Monotype fonts, 

Brad,

no, you cannot. An end-user license agreement is an agreement to which
both parties, well, agree. One party cannot change the terms
unilaterally -- especially if the new terms have some new restrictions.

Whenever you upgrade your iTunes application, you often get a new EULA
that you need to agree on. That new EULA only applies to the new,
updated version of iTunes. If you don't like the new EULA, you can still
use the old iTunes under the old terms.

Well, with fonts, updating them is not so easy. There are no
standardized, centralized channels, fonts are being sold in a variety of
different ways. Monotype like other vendors have changed their EULAs in
the past, so there are Monotype fonts out there that are governed by
various EULAs, depending on when and where they have been purchased.

This may sound trivial, but the only situation when font users and font
vendors "get in touch" is pretty much at the point of sale. So the only
viable way for a new contract to come into life is whenever a purchase
is being made.

Theoretically, a font vendor such as Monotype could offer a pure
"license extension" upgrade price. I wish they did, although I *can* see
a certain problem with it as well. Fonts don't have serial numbers
(unlike most software applications), are sold through many distributors,
sometimes individually per download, sometimes on a CD-ROM or in other
ways. No single feasible way exist for the vendor to verify if the user
is eligible for an upgrade, and in many cases the cost of verification
of that would be really high.

Well, you might say, but at least Monotype could offer an upgrade price
for their customers if they purchased the font directly from Monotype's
own website rather than from a distributor. Well, yeah. But imagine the
uproar among the distributors!

If the vendor does direct sales and also has a distribution channel,
it's already a slippery slope (this is known from many traditional
business areas, not just fonts). If the vendor starts to give more
favorable terms through their own channel rather than through the
distribution network, this will certainly not be amusing to the
distributors -- they will demand the same condidtions (to be able to
offer upgrade pricing), and then, well, the vendor has the same problem
as outlined above.

Mind you, I'm not trying to justify Monotype here (with whom I'm not
affiliated, except having done some consulting work for them years ago),
I'm just trying to offer some explanations as for what the problems on
the vendor's site may be. Since I've known the technicalities of the
commercial font business for the last ten years or so, I do believe
Vladimir when he says "it has nothing to do with money".

> giving you money a second time for the same product.

It's not the same product. In the concept of copyright, as has been
universally adopted by the majority of the countries worldwide, and
which has been the basis of many millions of people's income in several
decades now, a contract that grants you specific rights must explicitly
enumerate the "fields of usage". You cannot sell or buy rights for "all
sorts of use and media to come".

Rights to publish a book are sold by the author separately from the
rights to make a movie out of it -- and this is good so.

To be more font-specific: most commercial font EULAs permit using the
font files on from one to up to five CPUs (workstations). Obviously,
this is rather different from a model where each visitor to a website
that uses web fonts downloads a copy of the font in order to view the
document. Unlike PDF or Flash, where the fonts are stored in a
proprietary way in a closed container, HTML with desktop fonts linked
through CSS constitute an actual distribution of the font files in a
"standalone way". So a new contract needs to be signed, and it is fair
to assume that the publisher (and the authors) would like to be paid for
the additional rights they give up.

But this is nothing new. Forty or fifty years ago, you had metal type,
and you used it for a while, some of it got broke so you had to buy new
type. And if you bought a new machine that was based on
photo-composition rather than metal composition, you needed to buy new
type.

> It would seem that that they also want to re-charge us for the same
> fonts we already paid for once (like the movie industry practice
> that most of us not in the movie industry despises)

I'm not in the movie industry but I don't see why I would "despise" the
practice. I mean, for me, it is quite natural: if I want to see a movie
in the cinema once, I go, pay for the ticket, and watch the movie. If I
want to see the same movie for a second time, I pay for a ticket again.
What's so peculiar about that?

A.

-- 

Adam Twardoch
| Language Typography Unicode Fonts OpenType
| twardoch.com | silesian.com | fontlab.net

The illegal we do immediately.
The unconstitutional takes a little longer.
(Henry Kissinger)
Received on Thursday, 18 June 2009 16:50:57 GMT

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