Re: Fonts WG Charter feedback

I should address the "aren't you accusing of us
of lying?" issue, exemplified by this comment
from Thomas Phinney:

On Fri, 2009-07-03 at 04:04 -0700, Thomas Phinney wrote:
> On Thu, Jul 2, 2009 at 3:29 PM, Håkon Wium Lie<> wrote:
> > Also sprach Thomas Lord:

> >  > There is a lot of talk to the effect that concerns TTF/OTF support
> >  > will lead to "accidental piracy" are the main motivation for
> >  > resistance to TTF/OTF. I am beginning to believe that that is not
> >  > really the motivation but, rather, exclusion by incumbents against
> >  > potential competitors is the driver.

> > I support your analysis.

> Well, that "analysis" is simply wrong. Not to mention offensive, as it
> requires the assumption that all the font vendors who have discussed
> the issue are lying.

Nonsense.  Of what lie, exactly, do you 
think I am accusing anyone?

The font vendors we speak of charge rent for their
fonts in the form of license fees.

They want to maximize the rent price by requiring 
distinct licensing for web use and by being clear that
their fonts, when present on the web, come with only
a very narrow set of rights for web users who receive

They have argued at length that they can not agree
to allow their fonts to appear "on the web" in 
a format that allows drag and drop to desktops
(at least Microsoft desktops) because, surely, that
would lead to widespread unauthorized use of the 
fonts.  That would be objectionable because, at least
according to microeconomics, it would put downward 
pressure on the price of their licenses.   In such a 
circumstance, they would not be inclined to license
their fonts for web use and so the standard would 
be a failure.

Neither you or I have any reason to believe that 
the font vendors were dishonest or honest in those
discussions.  The question isn't raised by any of
that discussion.

Now very recently, a new type of counter-proposal
has appeared in several forms.   The new counter-proposals
say, in effect:

   "We offer to give you a format which can not be
   drag and dropped (for use without conversion) 
   to existing desktops.  We respect the choice of 
   desktop vendors such as Microsoft to never in the
   future support this format natively on the desktop.
   However, there are and will be more fonts for which
   that limitation of inter-operation is inappropriate 
   and so our proposal is contingent on supporting 
   TTF/OTF on the web in addition to this new format.
   This would seem to satisfy both of our goals."

In response we heard, basically, "No."  Most of scant
arguments in favor of that "No" simply re-iterate the
arguments why these vendors do not want their own fonts
to appear on the web in TTF/OTF.  To these have been 
added some brief remarks that such support would be
"irresponsible" (but why is not explained) and 
"unnecessary" (without explanation as to how 
permissively licensed fonts are supported under this

In other words, the font vendors and Microsoft have
said, so far, not one word rationalizing their motivation
for that "No."   In that sense, I suppose they 
*can't* have lied about it.

Now I considered what difference the issue makes:

If TTF/OTF plus an additional format is supported, then the
font vendors we're talking about can continue to 
refuse permission for their fonts to appear on the 
web in TTF/OTF format.

On the other hand, if only a non-TTF/OTF format is
supported, the outcome is the same except that,
in addition, permissively licensed fonts are handicapped
in their interoperability.

That being the most significant difference apparent,
I speculated that it was the primary motive for the
"No.", a motive about which the vendors and Microsoft
had been mum.   For this, I was accused of accusing others
of lying.   Of what lie, exactly, am I supposed to have accused
the vendors?


Received on Monday, 6 July 2009 00:33:45 UTC