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RE: Agenda, action items and suggested WOFF changes

From: Richard Fink <rfink@readableweb.com>
Date: Fri, 14 May 2010 14:48:20 -0400
To: "'Levantovsky, Vladimir'" <Vladimir.Levantovsky@MonotypeImaging.com>, "'John Daggett'" <jdaggett@mozilla.com>, "'John Hudson'" <tiro@tiro.com>
Cc: "'Chris Lilley'" <chris@w3.org>, <public-webfonts-wg@w3.org>, <www-font@w3.org>
Message-ID: <002901caf396$06ac7590$140560b0$@com>
Friday, May 14, 2010 9:11 AM Vladimir Levantovsky <Vladimir.Levantovsky@MonotypeImaging.com>:

VL> I do believe it makes perfect sense for tools producing WOFF files to check the embedding permissions and issue a warning (as you suggested in one of your previous emails [1]) if "restricted embedding" is the only level specified.
VL> I think it would be a benefit to a web author if a tool issues a warning when this condition is encountered.

I agree with you! I think it's absolutely nuts that a tool maker would need to steer clear of a feature that authors might very much want because the tool maker is concerned about legally compromising themselves in the event of a dispute.

But that's the situation that exists today and I'll give you an instance in regards to font conversion:

In the two most commonly used online conversion tools I'm aware of, Font Squirrel's @Font-Face Generator and Cufón, the user is required to attest that they have the right to do the font conversions by checking a box next to the statement:

     "Yes, the fonts I'm uploading are legally eligible for web embedding"

Now, you probably think this is a good thing.
I don't.
Because that statement is, essentially, an admission that the tool *can* be used for fonts that are *not* eligible for web embedding.
If some irate font producer(s) were to decide that the majority of people using that online tool are a bunch of lying pirates and they were to take such a site to task for contributory infringement or inducement to infringe, a good part of their lawyer's work has already been done for them by the site itself. The site has already admitted that it will allow anybody, with only the simple click of a checkbox, to convert fonts whether they are "legally eligible" or not. And I'm sure it would be argued it's inducement to infringe because a paltry checkbox is all the enforcement there is.
No, it's better to have nothing.

And language like this:

>           The font embedding permissions set in
>           the font contained in a WOFF file MUST
>           NOT affect load behavior in user agents
>           and MUST NOT affect whether tools
>           produce a WOFF file from an underlying
>           font.  In general, it cannot be assumed
>           that embedding permissions in the font
>           OS/2 table fsType field correspond to
>           licensing of fonts for use on the web.
>           Web authors are therefore expected to
>           have made adequate efforts to make sure
>           that the font license corresponds to the
>           intended use.

Would only exacerbate the problems not alleviate them.

Look, I realize that this is an itch that, for some reason, you and others in the Working Group want scratched.

Reduce it to this:

>           The font embedding permissions set in
>           the font contained in a WOFF file MUST
>           NOT affect load behavior in user agents
>           and MUST NOT affect whether tools
>           produce a WOFF file from an underlying
>           font.  
And you've got my nonvoting support. :-)

I'm still not sure about "clarity" - does "load" mean that the user agent will print the "loaded" font as it does others that it "loads" regardless of whether it's an installed font or one issuing from a web server?
But that one paragraph is, at least, broad enough to lend *predictability*.

BTW - if anybody reading this finds the legal concerns off-beat, read the judgment against P2P provider LimeWire that was issued just a few days ago:

Many of the issues are exactly the same.

And then, posted just today, read what a respected leader in the font industry has to say with regard to where things will stand once the Working Group has finished the WOFF recommendation:

	"What's not too late is that the courts are still gonna be around when this is done."
	"if a user or software developer wants to move their exposed little asses across the line from a simple licensing issue, to a much more complex copyright/trademark issue, we will be there with the proper 'paperwork'."

I have no choice but to take the gentleman at his word and cover my little ass. (Actually, it's a mule and not so little.)

It's unfortunate that IP law is so muddled and incomprehensible that it leads, often, to results that defy common sense and purpose.
To the point where those who wish to be ethical or just obliging and respectful are unable to do so out of self-defense.
I'm hoping it's just a phase in human history.



"Predictability... is a needful characteristic of any law worthy of the name. There are times when even a bad rule is better than no rule at all."
 	- Antonin Scalia
Received on Friday, 14 May 2010 18:55:30 UTC

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