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

Re: the alternative?

From: Michael Bernstein <michael@cascadilla.com>
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 1996 17:32:44 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <v01540b08ae4246b8594d@[]>
To: young@cs.purdue.edu (Michal Young), www-font@w3.org
>>I'm wondering what will happen if a working, secure embedding solution
>>isn't made available soon.
>>***This site looks best in StolenFont - click here to automatically
>>download and install this font.***
>Exactly. That is what will happen if font embedding is not available soon,
>or if the protection scheme has a non-trivial cost in performance, quality,
>or convenience.
>Font authors and vendors may not be comfortable with weak protection, just
>as software authors and vendors weren't very comfortable with distributing
>programs on non-copy-protected media.  But the inconvenience of
>copy-protected floppies (and dongles, and other schemes to prevent theft)
>was too high a price for the protection.  Software piracy remains a
>problem, but the abandonment of copy protection has made little difference
>in that regard, and a number of software authors have managed to get rich
>despite widespread piracy.
>You can adopt an embedding scheme that users don't object to, or you can
>try to force a more secure scheme on the world --- but the secure scheme
>will just be ignored, and the download scenario will prevail.  I include
>authors in the term "users"; a distinction made sense for publishing on
>paper but is rapidly disappearing on the web. Users won't tolerate bitmap
>fonts (you can make them fast enough, or good enough, but not both), they
>won't tolerate schemes with indirection to a vendor font server (for both
>performance and convenience reasons), they won't tolerate font substitution
>(or so the experience with pdf suggests).
>--Michal Young, Purdue

Users may well decide they'd rather take an easier illegal approach.
However, a few well-placed lawsuits will cure the major companies and
universities of that approach.  A $50 font, sent to 10,000 visitors
illegally, is $500,000.  Three $150 fonts, sent to 100,000 visitors, is
$45,000,000.  The more successful the site, the more it pays to sue
them if they illegally distribute fonts.  And ignorance is no excuse.

(Purdue got hit for a large settlement by the SPA for software piracy
a few years back.  I'm surprised y'all aren't more aware of the issue

Copy protection on disks largely disappeared because the vendors
decided it wasn't stopping piracy.  That's very different from promoting
piracy, which is exactly what unlicensed redistribution of fonts is.

And just like some vendors still use dongles and copy protection (more
and more games are requiring the CD to be in the drive, for example),
some font vendors will refuse to allow redistribution of their fonts.
Users can then decide whether the fonts are still worth it.  Some will
be, just like some copy-protected software is still worth it.

It's possible the major foundries will decide they want to protect
their fonts from redistribution too.  At that point, the users won't
have any choice but to accept it, because the alternative is too
expensive.  Will there be individuals who figure they won't get sued?
Yes, but they'll be too small to matter.

I probably come across as happily litigious.  I'm not.  I hate the
current legal system.  But I hate going bankrupt even more, and because
I sell fonts to a very small academic market, a few hundred free copies
of all of my fonts will not lead to thousands more sold later; it'll
lead to a loss of most of my sales.

  Michael Bernstein
  Cascadilla Press
Received on Thursday, 22 August 1996 17:33:15 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Friday, 17 January 2020 22:37:29 UTC