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Why just give away fonts? Why not apps?

From: Tom Rickner <tomr@ny.monotypeusa.com>
Date: 12 Aug 1996 14:23:30 -0400
Message-Id: <199608121826.SAA03985@otto.servtech.com>
To: "W3 mailing list" <www-font@w3.org>

HTML and Acrobat PDFs both allow people to transmit documents in a unified format
via electronic means, with the relative certainty that the end users will see
something quite close to what the designer/publisher created. We as font
designers are now being asked to sacrifice the saftey of our fonts because it is
a net win for the Web and our ability to assure that the design as well as the
content can be easily proliferated.

One cannot deny that if there is no phycial impediment to the distribution of
fonts in this manner, we will see an increase in our ability to ensure that everyone
sees the same thing when they access a URL. Now the only thing which would make
this better, is if we emdedded the application as well as the fonts used to
create the document. Then I could create a lovely home page in Adobe
Illustrator, and get all the control which is currently lacking in PageMill, and
rest assured that my public will view the document as intended. And Adobe shouldn't
be concerned about people extracting Illustrator, because the people that do
this were not going to buy illustrator anyway, right? And besides, once people
see just how neat illustrator is after using it for free, they are going to
double click on that Illustrator order form URL and get a legal copy. The benefit
of having illustrator freely avaible to all (while possibly causing financial
problems for Adobe) would seem to me a net win for us Web users and the future
of the internet. When Adobe and Microsoft start giving away their software, and
Apple starts giving away its hardware, and my grocer starts giving away their food...
I guess then I will be able to afford to give away my fonts.

Today fonts are software. They are more like applications than they are data.
Why do fonts not deserve the same level of protection that applications use? I
can generate a document with an application, and I know that the app used to
create it is not in jeopardy of being ripped off in its entirety. Why is the same
not true for the fonts?!

I cannot imagine that certain companies would hold their current position about
intellectual property if, say Netscape allowed the embedding of their
applications. The problem is that the companies involved have no significant financial
stake in the problem of freely distribuatable fonts. Microsoft pays big money up
front so that they can give their fonts away. Fine. And Adobe will gladly give
away their fonts if it enables you to buy and use their applications, just as
John Hudson points out. But IMHO, Adobe and Microsoft are the ones being short
sighted here. They are now giving away blades to work with their expensive
razors. The problem is that these blades will never wear out. It may be that in
the coming years, only large companies such as these will be able to afford to
produce new typefaces, because the smaller companies which do nothing but type will
have found it impossible to sell what can be found for free with very little

Thomas Rickner
Monotype Typography

The oppinions expressed are my own.
Received on Monday, 12 August 1996 14:26:29 UTC

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