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

From: Grey Hodge <grey@thecloudygroup.com>
Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2008 19:46:39 -0500
Message-ID: <491CCA6F.5040706@thecloudygroup.com>
To: www-style@w3.org

On 11/13/2008 6:07 PM Thomas Phinney cranked up the brainbox and said:
> I have no doubt that "real DRM" such as that used for DVDs does reduce
> piracy. But that's not what's being proposed here.

To veer off topic for a moment, but CSS, the DVD DRM method is completely and
totally ineffectual and has been for the better part of a decade. There are
numerous commercial, free, and even GPL tools to copy a DVD with just a few
clicks of a mouse button. It is truly as easy to copy a DVD as it is to copy a
CD or floppy.

>> Is there no way to convince the foundries that DRM will not curb
>> piracy whatsoever?
> I am dubious at best. Probably more important would be to come up
> with reasonable estimates for the size of the potential market for
> web fonts.

DRM doesn't work, it's just a short term delay mechanism. If someone really
wants your font, or movie, or car, they'll get it.

> Meanwhile, most font vendors are unsure how much money this new
> market will generate for them, but they are pretty darn sure that
> letting their fonts out the door as completely unprotected web
> fonts will reduce their *existing* business by making casual piracy
> easier.

And yet it's casual piracy that is not the threat to foundries and game makers
and movie producers, it's large scale commercial piracy. The guys that collect
a thousand commercial fonts on a CD for ten bucks, or AutoCAD for $30, or Star
Wars Episode 47 Part 3 on the street corner for $5, those are your enemies.
DRM aimed at casual piracy does nothing but potentially annoy users and make
executives feel warm and fuzzy.

Look at Apple Fairplay DRM. Has it stopped music piracy? No. Pirates can rip
the DRM from the music files with several tools if they want. Or they can
pirate a CD copy. does it prevent common users from sharing music? No, because
they just either use one of those click-click tools, or point the friend at
Limewire. But the music execs feel better about it, and that's all it does.

Casual font piracy is a huge joke, too. Most people don't even know what a
font is other than a choice for text styles in Word. The idea that a font is a
discreet file that is easily copyable is not well understood. The people who
will pirate a font are either people who would never be customers anyway and
want it to print out leaflets for school/work, or commercial customers who can
simply be educated when caught via normal enforcement methods.

Right now it's already as easy to pirate a font as it would be using raw TTFs
on the web. 99% of people won't even know that their browser is pulling a font
from the wire. Those who do already can google for pirate fonts easily enough.
Someone before brought up the image analogy, and I think really it will be far
more prevalent to see images pirated than fonts, and have a larger economic

Sell fonts like you do today, and offer a web license for them like you
already issue commercial licenses of different volumes, like photo agencies
do. Will you use our font for print? For web? Different prices for different uses.

> Perhaps additional casual piracy is inevitable and they just have to "suck
> it up." But I do not believe that the majority of font vendors are being
> crazy or irrational here. Cautious, yes. Shortsighted perhaps, if the
> potential web font revenue is huge and the added piracy for print use
> is minimal. But not crazy or irrational.

I agree they're not being crazy or irrational. I really do. But I don't think
they're being realistic either. They're falling into the same logical fallacy
that entertainment vendors have, that pirates are somehow lost customers.
They're almost always not. You haven't lost a penny, even potentially. You
still sold X units, but there were Y unauthorized copies made by someone else.
The best thing a font vendor can do, and the same goes for entertainment
vendors, is make products that people want to buy and price them sanely. I
think font vendors are already ahead of the game compared to entertainment
vendors there, as I can't remember the last time I pirated a font, and I've
been very much compelled to buy them in the past. House Industries has a
terrible habit of making me part with money.

Grey Hodge
 email [ grey @ thecloudygroup.com ]
 web   [ http://www.thecloudygroup.com ]
 motto [ Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler. - Einstein ]
Received on Friday, 14 November 2008 00:47:55 UTC

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