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


	From: []
On Behalf Of Tab Atkins Jr.
	Sent: Monday, November 10, 2008 9:44 AM
	To: Philip TAYLOR
	Cc: Mikko Rantalainen;
	Subject: Re: CSS3 @font-face / EOT Fonts - new compromise
	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
		perspective rather than a technical or technological
		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
		to see the tradition of high-quality type design carried
		and if this can be accomplished only through the use of
		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.
	I'd suggest that we should keep this discussion factual and to
the point. Font vendors would never attempt to restrict your
legally-allowed rights, you are only restricted by the conditions of the
license you purchased.
	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
	Agree. But let's be honest - what I am proposing is not DRM.
Same origin restriction makes perfect sense if you want to protect the
resources you use for your website, and if, for whatever reason, you do
want to allow these resources to be linked elsewhere - all you need to
do is to negotiate a proper license for it.
	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
	With all due respect, I would argue that your accusations of
font vendors are baseless and unfounded. Your rights to use a font as a
resource are not limited in any way, and the content you create will be
seen exactly as you intended, by any number of visitors of your website.
It's not web authors who font vendors are concerned about, it's the fact
that fonts can be used anywhere outside the web - on any computer, with
any application, online and offline ... 
	It takes years of efforts to produce a high quality typeface,
and they _have_ been the subject to extreme piracy in the past - font
vendors just do not want to make it too easy for people (who are less
concerned with copyright laws) to grab fonts off the web and use it

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


	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.
	The proposed technical solution is not DRM - it's the
compression technology that is optimized for fonts and has its own
utility value. I do not see any reason calling it "draconian", you
obviously do not consider JPEG *draconian* when it comes to images. 
	Technically speaking, there would be no difference whatsoever if
you zip a free font or a commercial one - why is it any different if you
were to apply compression that just happens to do a better job with
	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).  
	This is exactly the point! The fact that the compression
algorithm is patent-protected makes no difference for any applications
(browsers, web tools, you name it) that implement W3C Recommendation -
it's been offered on W3C RF terms. OSes will never see compressed fonts
- UA will decompress them and deliver to OS font engine as regular
OpenType fonts. However, if someone implements a standalone decompressor
utility for the only purpose of ripping a font from the web - patent
protection will probably be the only recourse, since it's might be hard
to justify that standalone decompressor is a valid implementation of W3C
	Best regards,
	 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 then?

Received on Monday, 10 November 2008 16:25:50 UTC