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"Web fonts — where are we?"

From: Dave Crossland <dave@lab6.com>
Date: Mon, 20 Jul 2009 11:17:48 +0100
Message-ID: <2285a9d20907200317y16145b1ewb86188c80dbfb39a@mail.gmail.com>
To: www-font <www-font@w3.org>

After the TypeCon web font panel, a summary was posted at


And in the comments, type designer David Březina wrote:

"First of all, John thank you for the summary! It was much needed. I
find it actually very useful that it did spark some disagreement. It
helped me to revise some questions/answers and understand situation I
have not been following.

[1] I think we (type designers) maintain an old illusion about how our
market works. People do not buy fonts because they could not get them
for free anywhere else. They buy them out of sympathy, understanding
the value of our work and/or legal reasons. They could get them for
free, easier, and faster (!). It is not that we would be shooting in
our faces. It is more like we have been shot already. We already
accepted the piracy as a burden of our business.

If I am right in this view, we do not need any kind of DRM. The
expected "new" web piracy won't change a thing. I would very much like
to see some study or educated estimate re this view. Or at least an
authoritative opinion. It is crucial information for designers in
order to evaluate the formats properly. Otherwise, they are just left
aiming for the most security.

[2] What we, however, want is a tool to limit webfont licences
exclusively for web. We want to make a profit out of this #webrisk and
keep distinction between web and print fonts. Why? If I am not sure
whether opening my fonts for web use is going to make me money I would
rather keep the new market separated from the old working one. That is
the motivation behind the web-specific format. Acceptance of
non-security, but limited to web.

Personally, I think that opening to web market is surely going to make
a profit. An objectively, we are not going to have strictly (that is:
not-convertible) webspecific format ever. Not with current
technologies where the fonts are described with curves. The only
option I see is bitmap fonts &amp;c.

.webfonts is just bundled metadata with print font (we can have them
in OT table as Berlow suggest, why another format simple-to-hack when
most are not going to care?), EOT Lite is a very thin wrapper as far
as I understood, but at least not so trivial. It will become easy
convertible (assumption), but at least something. Typekit and similar
tools offer only limited security by obfuscation. So far too easy to
circumvent. These techniques are not imo worth complicating life of
paying customers. Even though the interface is sexy, it is still
another interface.

Therefore: prepare the fonts for web (have them subsetted, add web
exclusive license, permission tables, …) and go naked! Or if you are
shy, have EOT Lite.

[Please note that this is still an opinion under development, was and
will be revised, and it is not an opinion of TypeTogether.]"

I think this is one of the most sensible and perceptive things I've
heard from a type designer on this issue, and thought it worth
bringing to the attention of this list.

Received on Monday, 20 July 2009 10:18:48 UTC

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