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Re: Re[2]: pixel fonts

From: Bill McCoy <mccoy@mv.us.adobe.com>
Date: Sun, 11 Aug 1996 07:23:33 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: www-font@w3.org
Cc: mccoy@mv.us.adobe.com
John Hudson, Tiro TypeWorks writes:

>As professional type designers, neither Erik nor I are
>keen on seeing our fonts being shot around the world in a variety of
>insecure document formats (of which Acrobat is definitely an example). The
>current FONT-FACE= tag is not a problem, as it relies on the font in
>question being present on the end-user's system. Systems which conspire to
>put that font on the end-user's system so they can view and print a given
>website or electronic document are a problem, and a represent a serious
>threat to type designers' livelihoods.

>My own idea for a solution is to give designers and foundries greater
>control over the ways in which their fonts can be used (i.e. control within
>font format technology), and modify existing payment and distribution models
>to reflect that control...

In another message he writes:

>This puts type designers in the uncomfortable position
>of explaining to their clients that the typeface they have just invested
>thousands of dollars in cannot be technically protected from piracy and
>that, if they want to protect their property, they can expect further major
>investment in legal fees, monitoring costs, etc..

I think it's pretty obvious that fonts are one instance of a data type which
contains intellectual property and thus "wants" protection. But, I think
it's equally obvious that IP in general is not yet being protected on the
net and that this isn't a disaster. E.g.,

"As professional graphic artists, neither Joe nor I are
 keen on seeing our illustrations being shot around the world in a variety
 of insecure formats (of which JPEG and GIF are definitely examples)."

"This puts graphic designers in the uncomfortable position
of explaining to their clients that the artwork they have just invested
thousands of dollars in cannot be technically protected from piracy and
that, if they want to protect their property, they can expect further major
investment in legal fees, monitoring costs, etc.."

Yes of course the world needs IP protection mechanisms for Web resources.
And I wholeheartedly agree with John that "Designers who intend their fonts
to be used
primarily for print media applications should be able to disable the font in
such a way that it cannot be used in electronic documents" (though I would
qualify that as "cannot be *easily* or *inadvertently* used").

However, I do not think that the IP needs of type designers differ that
greatly from the needs of other creators of graphical and textual
information. For type designers that are nervous about fonts being shot
around the world, perhaps you can take some comfort in the fact that the
proliferation of trivially rip-offable GIF and JPEG files has not led to a
decrease in sales of clip-art libraries nor to decrease in demand for
graphic design for the Web: quite the opposite! It has given a much larger
user base a taste of the possibilities, and most people are, given an
opportunity, honest. So the benefits of greatly increased exposure to
potential (honest) customers should far outweigh the costs of the
hypothetical lost revenue from increased piracy. I say "hypothetical"
because piracy in most instances is performed by those who would not
otherwise be paying customers anyway.

And, though I agree the interests of print-centric type designers are
different than the interests of designers working with media primarily
intended for online viewing, electronic documents are becoming critical to
prepress/print workflows. The printing paradigm is shifting to demand
printing, digital presses, etc., so there's really no crisp dividing line.

So, I believe that it is in the interests of all type foundries to accept
the reality that our work has been pretty much rip-offable all the while,
and that although this will be even more true with Web fonts, it will in the
final analysis be a net win.  Holding up use of Web fonts until we have IP
protection, or even worse trying to implement a font-specific IP protection
mechanism before the Web community has sorted out the general IP protection,
payment, and distribution issues, would be very shortsighted.

Adobe has the largest aftermarket font business, and the entire Adobe Type
Library is licensed under terms which permit embedding in documents. Thus we
are putting 10s of millions of dollars of revenue on the line on this
proposition that we will grow our business and sell more type by letting
users get a taste of documents and media that really show-off high-quality
type, rather than bitmaps or imitations. So far, so good. But to really make
this a success, I think the type industry as a whole needs to step up, post
haste, to these new challenges of professional type in electronic media. We
need to focus on delivering quality, performance, minimizing bandwidth... a
host of issues. Intellectual property is definitely one of these issues, but
to spend the next 18 months squabbling over it, would really be missing the


Bill McCoy
Adobe Systems Incorporated
(206) 470-7449
Received on Sunday, 11 August 1996 10:27:52 UTC

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