Re: New work on fonts at W3C

On Jun 18, 2009, at 9:50 AM, Adam Twardoch wrote:

> Brad Kemper wrote:
>>    Monotype hereby grants licensing rights to existing license- 
>> holders
>>    of Monotype fonts,
> Brad,
> no, you cannot. An end-user license agreement is an agreement to which
> both parties, well, agree. One party cannot change the terms
> unilaterally -- especially if the new terms have some new  
> restrictions.

Those who did not accept the terms would still be bound by the old  
agreement that they did agree to. Publishing the font on a Web server  
would indicate that they either accepted the new terms or violated the  
old terms. I don't see the problem.

> Well, with fonts, updating them is not so easy.

I wasn't talking about updating the font, only posting a new EULA,  
which the licensee could accept or not.

> There are no
> standardized, centralized channels, fonts are being sold in a  
> variety of
> different ways. Monotype like other vendors have changed their EULAs  
> in
> the past, so there are Monotype fonts out there that are governed by
> various EULAs, depending on when and where they have been purchased.

Right. So Monotype doesn't know which users accepted what EULA anyway.  
That would not change if Monotype posted a new EULA which could be  
voluntarily agreed to by anyone who read it.

> This may sound trivial, but the only situation when font users and  
> font
> vendors "get in touch" is pretty much at the point of sale. So the  
> only
> viable way for a new contract to come into life is whenever a purchase
> is being made.

Monotype never got in touch with them for the first EULA. Users were  
deemed to accept it when they ripped the seal off the envelope.  
Monotype's contract did not exist at the point of sale, only after  
they supposedly read the EULA. Getting in touch has never been a  
requirement of EULAs.

> Theoretically, a font vendor such as Monotype could offer a pure
> "license extension" upgrade price. I wish they did, although I *can*  
> see
> a certain problem with it as well. Fonts don't have serial numbers
> (unlike most software applications), are sold through many  
> distributors,
> sometimes individually per download, sometimes on a CD-ROM or in other
> ways. No single feasible way exist for the vendor to verify if the  
> user
> is eligible for an upgrade, and in many cases the cost of verification
> of that would be really high.

Why should there be any price or user tracking for accepting a EULA  
that is the same as the one Monotype offers its new customers, whom  
they do not track and do not necessarily pay receive payment from  

> Well, you might say, but at least Monotype could offer an upgrade  
> price
> for their customers if they purchased the font directly from  
> Monotype's
> own website rather than from a distributor. Well, yeah. But imagine  
> the
> uproar among the distributors![..]

That would be unnecessary.

>> giving you money a second time for the same product.
> It's not the same product. In the concept of copyright, as has been
> universally adopted by the majority of the countries worldwide, and
> which has been the basis of many millions of people's income in  
> several
> decades now, a contract that grants you specific rights must  
> explicitly
> enumerate the "fields of usage". You cannot sell or buy rights for  
> "all
> sorts of use and media to come".
> Rights to publish a book are sold by the author separately from the
> rights to make a movie out of it -- and this is good so.

That is not the same thing. When I buy a font, I can use it virtually  
ALL of my designs across a wide swath of media, including TV and PDFs,  
but not on Web pages. Monotype is taking advantage of that to squeeze  
a few dollars more out of designers/authors/etc. simply because they  
can. I don't deny its their right. I'm just saying that if I have to  
buy the same face design a second time, I'm more likely to buy from  
someone else, and that Monotype's greed should not be a rational for  
how standards are set.

> To be more font-specific: most commercial font EULAs permit using the
> font files on from one to up to five CPUs (workstations). Obviously,
> this is rather different from a model where each visitor to a website
> that uses web fonts downloads a copy of the font in order to view the
> document.

Temporarily, into a cache file, and in a way that other applications  
cannot use directly, easily.

> Unlike PDF or Flash, where the fonts are stored in a
> proprietary way in a closed container, HTML with desktop fonts linked
> through CSS constitute an actual distribution of the font files in a
> "standalone way". So a new contract needs to be signed, and it is fair
> to assume that the publisher (and the authors) would like to be paid  
> for
> the additional rights they give up.

They are free to think so. It has yet to be seen how well that  
attitude will fly in a more competitive marketplace for Web fonts.

> But this is nothing new. Forty or fifty years ago, you had metal type,
> and you used it for a while, some of it got broke so you had to buy  
> new
> type. And if you bought a new machine that was based on
> photo-composition rather than metal composition, you needed to buy new
> type.

Yes, the foundries have been working the profits-through-format change  
angle for quite some time all right. The difference with those is that  
there were real physical costs to creating the new media the font  
designs were on.

>> It would seem that that they also want to re-charge us for the same
>> fonts we already paid for once (like the movie industry practice
>> that most of us not in the movie industry despises)
> I'm not in the movie industry but I don't see why I would "despise"  
> the
> practice. I mean, for me, it is quite natural: if I want to see a  
> movie
> in the cinema once, I go, pay for the ticket, and watch the movie.  
> If I
> want to see the same movie for a second time, I pay for a ticket  
> again.
> What's so peculiar about that?

There are many who could explain to you the difference between buying  
a ticket to a performance and purchasing a product to be used in your  
own home, and why the latter rubs them the wrong way when they have to  
repurchase it in a new format every few years if they want to keep  
enjoying it. Books used to be a medium that could each last a  
lifetime, and music only lasts a few years these days. But planned  
obsoleteness pleases few consumers.

Received on Thursday, 18 June 2009 17:20:21 UTC