Re: Fonts WG Charter feedback

On Monday, July 6, 2009, 7:39:44 PM, Håkon wrote:

HWL> Also sprach John Hudson:

 >> > Several browser vendors object to enforcing rules embedded in a
 >> > resource; whether rootstrings or embedding bits, this is
 >> > Something that has been discussed and rejected a number of times
 >> > afaik.


 >> The objection, as I understand it, is to a web fonts standard that 
 >> *obliges* browsers to enforced embedded rules or permissions. The 
 >> browser makers can have no objection to the presence of such data in a 
 >> font

I agree (and thus disagree with Håkon below).

Having clear and understandable license information readily available is a benefit. This can be in the data itself, in a wrapper, or in an accompanying file (such as an HTML file). Many fonts have ambiguous or unclear licensing information available. 

As Thomas Lord pointed out earlier, the Web is built on an architecture where one component of the presentation (the text, ie the primary HTML page) is what you actually link to, while other components (stylesheets, images, video, audio, fonts, scripts) are linked from *that*. Which makes finding out about copyright, licensing etc of the primary resource easy  - it can be right there on the page  - while the same information for the secondary resources is hidden and may require format-specific tools to locate.

Thinking about how that information has been exposed - lets look at images, as an example - then copyright data in JPEG comment fields or EXIF or whatever is not readily available to the general reading public. Migrating that information to another HTML page works, though - like at flickr for example. Each photo has a page, with all sort of info including links to different sizes, other photos taken by that photographer, technical data like focal length or shutter speed - and license, whether its CC or all rights reserved. And people read those pages, flickr is a whole social networking site primarily about them.

So I think that fonts, when used on the Web, should also have an HTML page that has similarly useful info including the license. People are used to that model. And if there is all sorts of useful stuff *as well as* the license, then people will actually look at it.

HWL> Personally, I'm not comfortable with formats that add more licensing
HWL> information, 

I can't see why not. Are you concerned about JPEG and PNG images that have copyright or creative commons data in them? Or HTML pages with the same information?

HWL> even if the corresponding standard says it can be
HWL> ignored. 

Its not a question of it being "ignored".

In the case of a license, its simply a case of who the parties are to the license. For a font, the license is between the font supplier (the typographer who created the font, the foundry, etc) and the font user (the content creator).

Just the same as with images, if a particular photo is licensed to a particular magazine, the license is between the image supplier (the photographer or agency) and the content creator who uses the image (the graphic designer, the magazine, etc).

When you buy the magazine at the kiosk, the person at the till doesn't check the license on each photo in the magazine, and neither does the person buying and reading the magazine. We don't say they are "ignoring" the license. We just say that they are not parties to the agreement; it doesn't concern them.

If the license is broken - if the magazine uses the photo outside the terms (size/time/whatever), or without paying, then again the disagreement and the legal process concerns the parties to the agreement. The printer, the distributor, the newstand kiosk, and the dear reader are not involved at all.

HWL> It seems quite easy to construct a case where the browser, by
HWL> ignoring digital rights in the files, breaks DMCA-like laws and is
HWL> therefore a "circumvention device". I'm not convinced that the
HWL> standard would trump the law in court.

That's a valid concern, but the legal system is also pretty familiar with the concept of legal agreements and the parties to that agreement.

In summary, the point of good, clear, readily available license information (for fonts, for images, for all sorts of media) is 

a) to allow the parties to that agreement to know what is agreed.
b) to allow potential other customers to find out more

Again using the photo analogy, if I see a photo that I like, and there is a photo credit, I can enquire about licensing that image or other images by that photographer.

So for fonts used on a web page, if I'm a designer and like the font, and want to create content that uses it, it should be made easily possible for me to find how to do that.

 Chris Lilley          
 Technical Director, Interaction Domain
 W3C Graphics Activity Lead
 Co-Chair, W3C Hypertext CG

Received on Monday, 6 July 2009 18:23:35 UTC