Re: CSS3 @font-face / EOT Fonts - new compromise proposal

On Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 6:07 AM, Philip TAYLOR <> wrote:

> Mikko Rantalainen wrote:
>  DRM is not the answer to the font piracy or to any other kind of piracy.
>> Just make the content leagally available to customers on reasonable
>> price and provide usable *service* they're willing to pay for.
> May I (very respectfully) suggest that this is a political
> perspective rather than a technical or technological one.
> I for one, much as I detest DRM when it prevents me from
> a legitimate activity such as making a backup copy of
> a DVD, understand the need of skilled typographers to
> protect their intellectual property against theft; I want
> to see the tradition of high-quality type design carried on,
> and if this can be accomplished only through the use of DRM,
> then that is a price that I for one am willing to pay.

On a political level, many of us *aren't* willing to pay that price, when it
means that vendors can restrict our legally-allowed rights at will.
Especially when it's been proven that high-quality type can and will be
produced in a free-as-in-liberty fashion.

On a technical level, we've been over the topic before that no form of DRM
will ever stop piracy.  Pirates will rip any content out of its DRM shell,
but they weren't going to pay for it anyway.  Regular users, who *would* pay
for it (if offered at a reasonable price, of course) are the ones who suffer
from the transactional cost of dealing with DRM at regular intervals, and
from the loss of legally-granted rights (such as the right to make backup
copies of your DVDs, in that medium and in the US (I'm not sure what
copyright law says in other countries)).

This becomes even worse when all the proposals revolve around the browsers
transparently implementing the DRM so that the average browser user does
*not* see any effect (because all an average user ever does is *view* web
pages - they don't dive into the source to download linked resources).  The
only people who will be affected by this are *us web authors*.  Any proposal
for DRM on fonts is a direct accusation that us web authors are the
infringers they are afraid of.

Interestingly enough, this scenario sidesteps the main 'nightmare' behind
DRM - that it's difficult to *find* infringers because they are everyone.
When a web author uses a copyrighted font without permission, on the other
hand, you *know* who they are, or at least where to find them.  You know
their ISP.  You can serve legal demands to them quite easily.  This supports
the argument that ordinary copyright law is completely sufficient to
'protect' fonts from copyright infringment.

>  The users of *free fonts* should not be hindered by the resctrictions of
>> commercial font vendors.
> Agreed.

Well, *any* form of required DRM will hinder free fonts, don't you think?
If I have a free font, I want to be able to use it without any difficult; I
want to link it directly.  The entire issue here is that if you allow
unrestricted linking of free fonts, there's no way to prevent unrestricted
linking of copyright-protected fonts either.  The cat is out of the bag;
free and restricted fonts are basically identical, right?  Of course, I am
far (FAR) from a font expert.  If there *is* a way to consistently tell free
fonts apart from (appropriately configured) copyright-protected fonts, then
I have no problem with browsers implementing whatever controls they want.
My main concern is ensuring that we authors are not forced to jump through
hoops for font foundries when we're not even using their fonts; I'm not
willing to go to any effort to protect their business model.  If we can
reliably segregate the two camps, then go crazy.  Implement whatever
draconian measures the foundries feel are appropriate.  I disapprove
politically of this, but I have no technical problems with it at all - I'll
just make sure to stick with free fonts.

Now that I'm done railing against this, I'm interested in the compression
proposal.  I'm *not* willing to countenance a required solution based on a
patent-protected compression algorithm, but the proposal in an abstract
sense is interesting.  The issue is that, if compression is meant as an
obfuscatory step, what happens when OSes implement transparent decompression
for themselves?  There's nothing stopping them from doing so, after all
(except maybe the fact that the proposed algorithm is patent-protected).  A
compressed font can then be installed just as easily as a raw font, losing
this strategy any benefit it was supposed to have.  What happens then?
Specifically, what sort of reaction would we expect from the font foundries


Received on Monday, 10 November 2008 14:44:40 UTC