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

RE: RE: New work on fonts at W3C

From: Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2009 16:12:28 +0000
To: Dave Crossland <dave@lab6.com>
CC: "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <61027177C88032458A7862054B3C6258036BAE@TK5EX14MBXW652.wingroup.windeploy.ntdev.microsoft.com>
Dave Crossland wrote:
>2009/6/23 Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>:
>> I don't speak for IE.
>Do you personally think IE would implement a non-DRM web font format?
>From what I have heard from Microsoft representatives, I don't.

If "non-DRM web font format" means "TTF/OTF direct linking", then no, I don't.  If non-DRM web font format means "web font format that specifies what license and rights the font carries, font vendors define those rights and the UAs are expected to honor those, but there's no strong crypto or single-vendor-controlled system 'protecting' the font," then yes - in fact, that's pretty much what EOT does, despite being demonized as "DRM".  I never claimed EOT was a perfect solution - but it is good enough to convince most font vendors to enable the machine bit in their font that says "go ahead and embed this", and no one has complained (to my knowledge) about this usage.  Now that there's actually some interest in fonts on the web, lo this decade later, it's becoming apparent that few EULAs actually mention this use, but it appears from most of the vendors that this is an omission.

The real problem here is workflow.  You likely have a couple of hundred TTF/OTF files on your system (I have 236 on my Windows machine, and 241 on my Mac).  They contain copyright information, but likely NOT licensing information, other than the embedding bit.  Fundamentally, you don't know if you can use them with any solution that requires redistribution of the original file, unless you track this (e.g. keep a spreadsheet or attach information somehow to each font, describing its license).  There's not anything you can do to change this; the direct linking solution is going to be a mess.  (Or, more likely, it will result in only a few freeware fonts being used on the web, or (even more likely, IMO), authors are just going to dump the files up and hope for the best.)

I've been very clear in other forums on direct, unadorned placing of TTF/OTF files (e.g. with no machine-readable licensing information that is checked by the UA) on a web server - I think it is a drastic mistake, that makes developing new high-quality, highly readable fonts unlikely.  It is certainly not a solution that I personally would want my own company's fonts to be used with (though again, I am not in control of that).  I doubt that will ever be supported by IE (though again, I do not speak for them).

>> I should be clearer, though - I think full expression of "your
>> digital rights" in a web font format is a good idea (in fact, I think it's a
>> necessity, and that's where .ttf/.otf falls down)
>What do you personally think about Tom Lord's proposal?

Which?  "simple wrapper format...adds a place to put, say, some human-friendly XHTML that conveys licensing information...could also be used for images, audio files, and so forth."?  It's an interesting idea, though I'd caution providing COMPUTER-readable licensing information is more important right now (you can dump human-readable text in the copyright field in a font, but it doesn't help in determining allowed usage today; even most freeware fonts have a copyright.  Fonts are a more critical problem today, in my mind - due to Pandora's box not being fully open yet, and the aforementioned fonts-are-a-software-tool-unlike-images issue.

>But trying to make read-only fonts is like make water not wet?

No.  Trying to put up rigid defenses around font software is likely not a winning proposal, because as you imply, to use fonts is (technologically) to use fonts - rendering and editing look about the same.  Trying to carry licensing information to instruct proper usage is like putting up signs saying whether the water is potable or not - it doesn't stop people from drinking it, but it does encourage doing the right thing.


Received on Tuesday, 23 June 2009 16:13:11 GMT

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