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

Re[4]: Protecting WebFonts

From: Erik van Blokland <evb@knoware.nl>
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 96 01:18:26 +0200
Message-Id: <199608262316.BAA15694@kalvermarkt.denhaag.dataweb.net>
To: "w3 webfonts" <www-font@w3.org>
In all proposals, webfonts security relies on the integrity of browsers, 
the integrity of operating systems, some part of the process being kept 
secret, or best of all, the integrity of users. 
The first two can and will be hacked with relative ease. Furthermore, it 
is unwise to believe in the possibility of secrets, and finally, the 
integrity of users towards fonts has been thoroughly tested in the world 
of personal computing already: every fontsale represents between 30 and 
50 copied fonts. If already *anything* that sits on a webserver has to be 
considered to be public and accessible to the world, why entertain such 
vain hopes that it would be possible to keep something away from an user 
on his own computer? When operating systems become browsers, keeping a 
font exclusive to one app is a _very_ easy hack to get around, since 
there are also fonts open to all apps available on the same system. Flip 
a bit, find free font.

Webfonts are things that primarily need to create bitmap images on 
screens across the world. Most usage will be on screen. Print is another 
issue that can be solved seperately already. 
Let's get the screen right before giving away the fonts. Critics say 
"screen resolution will increase, warranting outine fonts at the user 
end". Typedesigner says "that will be some time in the future, and even 
if it becomes a major issue (involving more than 20% of users) HTML will 
be *several* generations further".
Anything that's decided on as the webfonts standard will be obsolete in 
two years anyway, just because the introduction of type is going to raise 
the expectation of webtypography *so much* that current outline based 
proposals have to be completely revamped anyway.

So why start enabling worldwide distribution of fonts with potential 
dramatic effects, when some smart tricks with fontservers, pixelfonts and 
some resolution information in HTTP protocol can provide enough *time* to 
make a solution that is pleasing to all involved for the long term.

Already sites are beginning to provide fonts to their viewers. Many of 
these are badly hinted (ripoff) PC truetype fonts. These fonts are 
scalable, but won't provide good results in all resolutions, neither do 
they print well. Yet people like it enough to maintain the supply. A 
webfonts system that provides the possibility to deliver appropriate 
pixelfonts to the client, without enabling access to outlines is the best 
solution for the time being. The fact that there are fonts at all will be 
blast, and it leaves room for better technology to be developed.

erik van blokland, LettError type & typography
Home of the Randomfonts, Trixie, BitPull & GifWrap.
   letterror http://www.letterror.com
   typelab   http://www.dol.com/TypeLab/
Received on Monday, 26 August 1996 19:17:17 UTC

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