Re: New work on fonts at W3C

Brad Kemper wrote:
> It would seem that that they also want to re-charge us for the same
> fonts we already paid for once 

Nice try :) Not sure whom you mean by "they". You can standardize on
technical solutions (which we are trying to do here) but I don't think
standardizing business models will be reasonable.

You have been free to use any libre fonts you want, and you will
continue to do so. But the choice is limited, and will remain to be. I
have not seen any single libre typeface that would be a better design
than any reasonably good commercial text face. There are many opensource
software projects that are clearly better than commercial solutions, but
with fonts, it seems that the opposite is the case (and believe me, I'm
very interested for good libre fonts to exist).

But we are talking about technical solutions that would "please"
commercial font vendors here. Let me bring the Polish June 1989 election
analogy again: at first, there was the communist party, and the
underground Solidarity movement that was united against the communist
regime. In May 1989, both sides negotiated an agreement to hold an
election in which 65% of the seats would be reserved for the communists,
and 35% were given to a "free pool". In the election held on June 4,
1989, Solidarity won all of the 35% "free" seats. What the communists
did not anticipate was that less than two years later, another election
was held, which then was completely free -- but there was no longer one
Solidarity movement, there was a dozen of small parties that emerged
from the once unified Solidarity.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, to make a point that the EOT format is
a "mental safety switch" for the current commercial font vendors, which
would allow them to open up their font licensing policies. Once the
support for the format is implemented in most browsers, regular
competition will kick in, and the various foundries will come up with
more and more attractive pricing models for the customers. The Monotype
license that you cited will not automatically be "a perfect model" for
all. Some foundries will extend existing licenses at no charge. Others
will charge a tiny upgrade price. The prices of the fonts in general
will go down (so you won't pay hundreds of dollars but 30-40 for the
same amount of fonts). And in a few years, perhaps some foundries will
open up to allowing EOTs without a domain lock, or even straight OTFs/TTFs.

Why am I saying this? Because this had already happened several times.
Before the introduction of PostScript and Fontographer, a font would
cost 300-500 dollars per single style, and was tied to a proprietary
typesetting mechanism. But PostScript opened a new market, which forced
the prices down, increased the competition, fueled innovation, brought
completely new font vendors to life. Originally, the PostScript Type 1
format had some protection features, but after a few years, this
protection was removed (or actually, publicly specified). But the
transitional period (with the protection mechanism) was necessary for
the big foundries to "open up" their libraries, convert them into
PostScript fonts, and release in this format.

When OpenType was introduced ten years ago, the same had happened. Fonts
got cheaper: before OpenType, you would need to buy 30 fonts to get
Western, CE and Cyrillic characters, oldstyle numerals and small caps
for a family of several styles. Today, you just buy 5 or 6 fonts -- but
each of the new, expanded OpenType fonts costs about the same as each of
the old Type 1 fonts, of which you needed five times as many.

But the key point for you is: you will never be *forced* to use web
fonts. If the web browsers do nothing, the major commercial foundries
won't do anything either, and the situation will look the same as it
looks now.

Except that a smaller number of interesting and innovative fonts will be

But believe me: there are MANY people out there who won't mind paying an
upgrade for their corporate ID font licenses that will let them use the
same fonts in print and on the web *IF THEY CAN*. I.e., if the browser
makers implement a format that will allow commercial font foundries to
"open up". That is, EOT.


Adam Twardoch
| Language Typography Unicode Fonts OpenType
| | |

The illegal we do immediately.
The unconstitutional takes a little longer.
(Henry Kissinger)

Received on Tuesday, 16 June 2009 22:34:30 UTC