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Re: Fonts WG Charter feedback

From: Thomas Phinney <tphinney@cal.berkeley.edu>
Date: Mon, 6 Jul 2009 15:39:39 -0700
Message-ID: <f49ae6ac0907061539w14326473re4b15c123dc9a551@mail.gmail.com>
To: John Hudson <tiro@tiro.com>
Cc: Thomas Lord <lord@emf.net>, karsten luecke <list@kltf.de>, www-font@w3.org, kl@kltf.de
On Mon, Jul 6, 2009 at 3:29 PM, John Hudson<tiro@tiro.com> wrote:
> Thomas Lord wrote:
>> 1) Standardize only TTF/OTF for web fonts.
>> 2) Standardize only some other format for web fonts.
>> 3) Standardize both.
>> Some font vendors and Microsoft have objected to (1) on the grounds that
>> they do not wish to legally
>> permit the presence of their restricted license fonts
>> on the web in TTF/OTF format for fear of rampant unauthorized use.
>> Several parties, notably most browser implementers,
>> have objected to (2) on the basis of existing TTF/OTF
>> support in many browsers and concerns about interoperability.
>> Strong arguments in favor of (3) have been put forward
>> yet these have met indications of refusal from Microsoft
>> and the font vendors.  No rationale has been offered for that refusal and
>> so we are left to speculate.   In speculating,
>> we look at what difference (3) makes and the exclusion of
>> competition seems to be the largest difference.   Thus,
>> I (and I'm apparently not alone) begin to think that that
>> exclusion is the motivation for refusing (3).
> I can't speak for Microsoft, who in terms of browser market dominance may,
> for all I know, be motivated as you suppose. It seems to me though, that for
> font vendors, the objection to (3) is basically the same as the objection to
> (1). TTF/OTF is fundamentally problematic for font vendors, and adding a
> second format doesn't make the first format less problematic. This is
> especially true when the only tool to determine whether a given font should
> be used on the web in a one format rather than the other is the license
> agreement, and the browser makers are telling us that they don't want to pay
> any attention to license information in the font.
> By the way, I think the majority of font developers are no great fans of
> EOT. Indeed, Microsoft is only succeeding in selling EOT to some font makers
> now on the basis that 'It's not as bad as raw TTF/OTF'; whereas, for most of
> the past decade the complain from the font makers has been 'It's almost as
> bad as raw TTF/OTF'.

I'm not commenting on Mr Lord's questions: I've answered them already,
whether he acknowledges it or not.

But I do think that John's point is well taken in understanding where
font vendors are at in their thinking: even EOT, especially once the
former encryption is a public spec, represents considerable compromise
relative to what most font vendors would really like. Yes, they WOULD
like iTunes-like DRM. They're not angling for it because they don't
think it's feasible insofar as browser vendors aren't going to go
there. But font vendors who back (or backed) the public version of EOT
mostly feel like they've already made a huge compromise. So taking
that as if it's an utterly unreasonable request and trying to get font
vendors halfway from there to desktop fonts on web servers... well,
the surprising thing is not that many of them are resistant to further
compromise, but that as many of them are open to it as they are. It
may be due to a feeling of helplessness, and the sense that the W3C
will do what it does, and they'll just have to decide afterwards
whether to license their fonts under those terms.


Received on Monday, 6 July 2009 22:40:22 UTC

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