RE: Fonts WG Charter feedback

On Thursday, July 02, 2009 1:46 PM Thomas Lord wrote:
> On Thu, 2009-07-02 at 12:56 -0400, Levantovsky, Vladimir wrote:
> > I am not sure about music in general, but I think that iTunes is a
> good
> > example where the technology, the users and the content providers
> strike
> > a (nearly) perfect balance, which makes everybody happy as a result.
> There are certainly a great many people who
> are not happy about the DRM aspects of iTunes
> but we need not even get into that question
> because the analogy is flawed.

I brought this analogy because I believe it's entirely relevant - Apple
was the first company (Sony tried but failed) who introduced a technical
solution that brought together content producers and users under the
same "roof" and turned them into a happy crowd. If we do the same and
introduce a technical solution that minimizes the concerns of font
vendors to the point they are comfortable licensing their products for
web use - we will have millions of happy web authors and billions of
happy users.

> With iTunes, users are buying from a very small
> line of devices for the limited purpose of having
> those specific devices play music for them.
> With web fonts, a vast array of software
> encompassing both Web UAs and desktop applications
> is at stake.

Why is it" at stake"? If you have a compressed font on a web server and
you have an application (UA) that can legitimately use that font - what
is broken? The compression and decompression spec is public and

> When we build Internet / Web standards,
> one of the big places we can go badly wrong is to
> introduce new formats and protocols where none is
> technically necessary.   When that happens, it is a
> kind of tax as many, many separately developed and
> maintained programs around the world must add new code
> and complexity to deal with the new format, and users
> must endure the hassle of a more complicated and less
> smoothly inter-operating computing environment.
> Gratuitous new formats are more or less the opposite
> of what these standards processes are supposed to
> produce.

It's not unusual to apply a specific target compression and packaging
for digital assets transmitted over the internet. What is normal for
desktop environment (e.g., raw fonts or raw images) may not be suitable
for the web for multiple different reasons. E.g., JPEG image compression
was introduced as image exchange format, but most of the photographers
keep using raw image formats in their production workflow. I believe the
same can be applied for fonts - raw fonts have a lot of redundancy to
enable high-performance text layout and rendering and are good for
desktop applications, but they're not a good format for the web or for
any font information exchange over bandwidth-limited channel.
Compression will solve that problem and the overall benefits justify a
bit of additional complexity, IMHO.

> I think we all understand the "let's have a
> low garden fence" argument and have sympathy
> towards it even while recognizing its limits.
> It should not imply *not* requiring OT/TT support
> and it should not imply a new format whose sole
> rationale is to damage interoperability and
> add needless complexity to many, many programs.

Like I said, I do not consider compression needless, I think it's useful
and beneficial tool. The complexity it brings is minimal.


> > I want to make it clear that font vendors have full trust that
> authors
> > will always do the right things and license fonts properly, so I see
> no
> > reason policing them. However, by making raw TTF/OTF fonts available
> on
> > the web for unrestricted access, we create an environment where
> > are easily accessible, can be copied any time by anyone for any use
> > outside web - this is what font vendors are most concerned about.
> I think it is honorable if font vendors have a
> presumption of trust of authors but it is naive
> and unrealistic to think that, regardless of what
> formats are agreed upon, policing will not be
> necessary to ensure that licensing terms are obeyed.
> This isn't even, strictly speaking, an issue
> limited to restricted-license fonts.  It applies
> as well to libre, particularly "copyleft" fonts.
> People do and will continue to violate licenses.
> In every other medium (ordinary programs, music,
> video, photographs, etc.) the experience has been that
> policing for license violations is necessary.
> Any plan from font vendors premised on avoiding that
> policing activity begins from a flawed premise.
> The question we're left with, then, is whether or not
> support for raw TT and OT, along side an enhanced
> novel format, makes that policing task easier or
> more difficult.   On a technical level, I can not help
> but think that support for raw TT and OT would make
> policing (especially of innocent mistakes) much easier
> and less expensive:  simply search the web for verbatim
> copies of fonts not licensed for web use in TT and OT
> but found on the web in those formats. Then send the
> take-down notices (and an offer to sell a license :-).
> If anything, the font vendors should be pressuring
> Microsoft to embrace a three-format solution:
> raw TT, raw OT, and wrapped in the manner I've
> described.
> Raw TT and raw OT are the best for the software
> ecology.  The wrapper adds useful new functionality,
> does not add much complexity to existing font
> handling code, and, yes, temporarily prevents the
> "drag-n-drop" of fonts in that format to legacy
> desktops.
> -t

Received on Thursday, 2 July 2009 19:26:10 UTC