RE: New work on fonts at W3C

On Monday, June 22, 2009 6:30 AM Mikko Rantalainen wrote:
> Adam Twardoch wrote:
> > 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.
> As Brad Kemper already said, font users and font vendors never "got in
> touch". There was never a real contract. Only an End User License
> Agreement (legal status of which is highly questionable under various
> countries laws).

This is a standard accepted practice for the whole software industry, not just fonts. Whether it's a signed hardcopy contract or a click-though End-user license agreement - it has the same legal status. Whenever you click "I Agree" button (either at the point of sale or at the time of installation) - you sign the contract.

> How can this fixed with EOT or any other new font format?
> It seems clearer every day that the problem is in the licensing, not in
> the technology.

Font foundries find it difficult to agree to put their original products in their raw form for everyone to grab - out in the open and without a license. TrueType and OpenType formats have been designed for rendering on a desktop and never been intended to be used as raw distribution format on the web. This is why creating an efficient web font format will help to address many issues at once, such as cross-origin resource sharing and efficient font data delivery. At the same time, it will not be directly installable on a desktop, which is what font foundries need.

> Also note that because Gecko (Mozilla Firefox) and WebKit (Apple
> Safari, Google Chrome) are licensed under GPL those rendering engines
> cannot implement a patent encumbered font format. And if a license is
> granted for Gecko and WebKit, such license is automatically applicable
> to any derivative work (licensed under GPL) of Gecko or WebKit,
> especially a piece of software which only purpose is to download any
> EOT wrapped font file and install it as a system font. Also note that
> neither Gecko or WebKit can relicense under more restrictive license as
> is because they have merged code copyrighted by third parties under the
> same license.

I believe the patent issues have already been resolved, see

When it comes to a derivative work where the only purpose is to rip EOT font and install it as system font - I think we are all in agreement that this is inevitable and patent will never prevent this.

> In other words, there cannot be any technological protection (against
> copying, a.k.a. DRM) that can be implemented by both Gecko and WebKit
> which couldn't be easily circumvented because the licensing of both
> Gecko and WebKit allow derivative works without restrictions.

EOT doesn't have technological protection against copying, and none was ever proposed. I have no problem allowing derivative works without restrictions either.

> Also, the requirement for wrapping the font file is *only* because of
> commercial font foundries. 

An efficient web font solution will benefit all web users and will accommodate all fonts, whether commercial or free. The solution that is *only* suitable for free fonts is not a good solution.

> A method of sharing the raw font file must
> be allowed because free fonts can (and should) be installed in every
> system to be used for any purpose. Requiring a custom font format would
> make it harder to distribute free font files (because the font
> distributor would need to distribute both raw font file to be installed
> and wrapped format version).

There should be a clear differentiation between distributing a copy of the font to be used for any purpose, and delivering a font linked to a website for the purpose of rendering the text. My understanding of the copyright law is that only the copyright owner can distribute copies of the original work, anybody else would have to have a license to do it, even you obtained your copy free of charge. 


> --
> Mikko

Received on Monday, 22 June 2009 17:16:11 UTC