W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-font@w3.org > July to September 1996

Re: Re[2]: pixel fonts

From: Erik van Blokland <evb@knoware.nl>
Date: Fri, 9 Aug 96 11:23:07 +0200
Message-Id: <199608090921.LAA13331@kalvermarkt.denhaag.dataweb.net>
To: "John Hudson" <tiro@portal.ca>
cc: "w3" <www-font@w3.org>
Andrew C. Bulhak:
>I'm not so sure that this is such a big threat.  Professional 
>publishers and designers will buy legitimate typefaces;  fonts
>reconstituted from documents would be likely to have missing characters,
>hinting problems and such and thus to be too much hassle to justify
>using them.  
I don't agree. Dare I say it: acrobat documents contain complete hinted 
type 1 fonts. Subsetting is only used if less than 10 percent of the 
characters in a font are used. Though this threshold can be raised, it is 
a standard setting, and safe to assume mr and mrs. Normalverbraucher 
won't be aware of this.
Also, current acrobet tech leaves the fonts lingering around somewhere 
after all web interaction is over. Subsetting is a measure to save space, 
it is not copy protection nor a safety feature.

>Anyone can theoretically make a second-rate outline font from a 
>PostScript file;  but then again, anyone can also scan in a 
>printed font and make a knock-off font, which is perfectly legal in
>the US as long as they change the name.  And yet professional 
>publishers and designers still buy original fonts.
But why make it even easier to pirate fonts as it already is? Practice 
is: most people will move heaven and earth to get a copy of an original 
font from a friend. They will wait for weeks and be happy with incomplete 
products. Then they will use it in a professional environment. Have no 
My estimate is that in the US, every font I sell gets copied around 30 
times. That's more than hobby font collectors and people with family 
newsletters. Copy protection outfits as FAST or SPA are sponsored by a 
couple of big companies that actually discourage new members (why make it 
easy for your competitor). 
The scale of font piracy in the offline world (that is: floppies, 
sneakernetworks etc) where the spreading of fonts greatly hindered by 
practicalities, is already worrying, it will be a massive threat in the 
online world because it    is    so     much     easier. There will 
always be a page somewhere with the fonts you're looking for. Just for 
fun, check alt.binaries.fonts and monitor the fonts that come by there 
every day.
I can't repeat this often enough: of course outline fonts are better for 
many applications, but current formats    are    just   not   safe    
enough    for    online   use.
We can use alternatives (perhaps pixelfonts) until the day there is a 
reliable method of dispersing fonts without giving them away. Safety 
precautions are best taken before going up, as there is not much one can 
do on the way down.
Developments like Truedoc won't do the trick: the reasoning is (by IMO 
dubious interpretation of _US_ copyright law) by making a lower quality 
copy of the font, people won't be interested in pirating it. But: the 
font was good enough to use it in the orginal Truedoc document, so why 
raise you standards?

>That is an idea; mind you, a corpus of "free" (subsidised) fonts for
>online publishing is not always the answer.  What if a site needs to use
>a particular font which is not free?
Indeed. Actually, it will be the non free fonts that people will be 
continue to be interested in, and not because Matthew Carter and Tom 
Rickner didn't do a good job, the fonts are great. But having a different 
typeface on your pages than your neighbour makes you stand out and get 
attention (bluntly speaking). Though free fonts will please a lot of 
people just because it is free, the fact that everybody has access to 
them, the thing that stands out will be more intersting. More free fonts 
will only make it more interesting to use non free fonts, and the 
embedding tech makes no distinction.

erik van blokland, LettError
home of the randomfonts
   letterror http://www.letterror.com
   typelab   http://www.dol.com/TypeLab/
Received on Friday, 9 August 1996 05:22:22 UTC

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