InDesign users to be extinct like "lead" users, CSS coauthor cries!

joeclark's picture

A YouTube video of a presentation at Google by Håkon Lie and Michael Day has Lie declaring that InDesign users, particularly at newspapers, will soon be so passé they will be more comparable to the old guys who moved “lead” type.

The context is the ability of Prince, a software application, to output a “typeset” PDF from HTML+CSS. (Lie was coauthor of the original CSS spec.) While that claimed capacity was covered in an article I read, then and now my response is “I’ll be the judge of that.” The presenters’ insistence that HTML-CSS-Prince handles “most” requirements (more than 80%) will, I suspect, be antithetical to the real typographers who read this forum. I think we spend rather a lot of time on that other 20%.

James Arboghast's picture

Darrel, I was talking about what Thomas Phinney said: Håkon Lie seriously claims that such free fonts are “good enough” for general use, and has been working very hard to prevent the adoption of any web font scheme that would work with retail/commercial fonts.

I was berating the author of CSS, not CSS itself.

Are we talking about the CSS specification or Prince? The point of Prince is to make CSS practical for print based typesetting.

The CSS spec. At worst I'm guilty of topic drift.

And unless I missed something, nothing to do with CSS. CSS doesn’t shut any particular font out.

You missed something. Either that or you're going out of your way to win points. I never claimed CSS shuts out particular kinds of fonts. Only that Lie's efforts with font embedding does.

I was criticizing Lie, not Prince.

j a m e s

joeclark's picture

CSS is hopelessly inadequate as a set of style rules for professional typesetting. I’m not going to bother digging through the CSS3 Text Module, next to none of which is actually supported anyway, but I assure you I cannot specify that a certain paragraph have a certain letterspacing, use only proportional lining figures, use all small caps (sic), and be followed by one specified other paragraph style that uses only a certain subset of available contextual alternates. CSS cannot even look inside OpenType fonts for specific features (though browsers can and do, often outside of anyone’s control – Zapfino displays with more and more ligatures with each browser rev).

Even adequately specifying the name of a font is difficult in CSS. (Try specifying exactly one variant of Thesis so it works in more than one non-braindead browser.) There’s the additional complication that print CSS cannot even reliably get the pt unit right across browsers and platforms.

Many brute measurements, like offsets and indents, can be specified in CSS, but we need more than brute force, we need finesse.


Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

aluminum's picture

James...thanks for the clarification. No worries on topic drift...I think I'm as guilty as anyone...

joe...your gripes are perfectly valid in the context of most web browsers out there. CSS isn't necessarily the issue, but the fact that most CSS support in browsers is partial, or just plain wrong.

So, I guess I'm saying that the gripe most of us have isn't necessarily with the spec, but the lack of support for said spec in most CSS rendering agents. That's where Prince starts to appeal to me (in theory, at least) as it DOES seem to support the CSS spec to a much greater extent.

P.S. any interest in inviting Day and Lie into the conversation?

Thomas Phinney's picture

I agree emphatically with Joe that referencing fonts in CSS is fundamentally broken. It's an even bigger problem because a lot of apps and other "things" out there want to "use" CSS as part of their text model, and when they try to deal with how one specifies a specific font, they have to deal with the fact that what constitutes a font "family" is fundamentally ambiguous and under-specified in CSS.

Each implementer usually ends up coming with their own, incompatible notion of how the CSS spec maps fonts and families to *actual specific fonts* and the end result is not pretty. I've seen many software dev teams hit this issue over the years, especially recently.

You know it's a problem when somebody has to write an 18-page spec on how to get from actual fonts to CSS font families and individual fonts.

That being said, I'm not convinced there is any fundamental barrier to doing pretty good typography in CSS some day. It will probably need some extensions to CSS, whether that's CSS 4 (or later) or something more proprietary.

But it would be a mistake to dismiss the entire concept just because the current implementation is limited. Metal typesetters made fun of phototype at first, and phototypesetters thought digital type was much too limited... but each technology evolved, and even the initial implementations often had compelling advantages that gained them many early converts. So it is with CSS based typography, I think.

Cheers,

T

James Arboghast's picture

Pardon me, gents, for my sour grapes performance. CSS isn't all bad. The W3C spec has its flaws and limitations, however, compliance is more problematic.

I agree with Thomas that it's too easy to dismiss embryonic technologies. Darrel's suggestion of inviting Day and Lie into the conversation has a lot to recommend it. A fresh thread would help. I'll apologize to Prince's authors in advance---if you gentlemen would like to come here we can talk in a more civilized manner.

j a m e s

twardoch's picture

I was impressed with the presentation. Forget Håkon Lie's bashing of InDesign and his rather naiive take on fonts. It seems that Prince is the brainchild of Michael Day, whom I instantly liked based on his balanced and toned down presentation style. He seems to be observant, respectful and willing to improve his product. Håkon's role in the company seems to be more of the networker and talking head -- a pity that he has so many qualities that split and ignite people.

Obviously, he has been looking at TeX when implementing Prince, and hopefully will continue to. TeX is one of the best automated typesetting systems out there, when it comes to text composition (I think only Adobe's current InDesign text engine can match it). But IMO, it is hopelessly obsolete when it comes to the input -- the language is insular and rather awkward to learn. It is clear that 15 years ago, it was the reference model for text layout -- after all, RTF was derived from the TeX notation. But today, the SGML-HTML-XML markup paradigm has clearly won.

I think the war "against" CSS is lost -- it is my firm belief that the typographic community has to accept, embrce and then try to extend it. We should learn to talk to people such as Håkon Lie, form a coalition of people interested in quality text composition and promote our ideas among the web people.

In fact, unlike Håkon Lie, many of the "web people" do appreciate the 500-year old legacy of traditional printing, with all its legibility optimization process. If the web wants to become the new book, it needs to learn from the vast knowledge amassed within the school of old book. It is quite obvious that web developers and also browser developers typically come from a different angle -- so now is the time to educate them about the reasons why typography is not just for people who deal with lead.

I do have some ideas in the works :)

A.

James Arboghast's picture

Thanks for bringing your practical and well-informed perspective to the table Adam.

Forget Håkon Lie’s bashing of InDesign and his inadequate fonts. He seems to be a person who heats up quickly and is loudly outspoken but somewhat seems to lack respect for other people’s work and opinions. But his role at Prince seems to be more of the networker and talking head.

Got it. I do not particularly enjoy to overreacting to Lie---being told this makes it easier. At the same time I'm not into judging the character of people thousands of miles from me who I have never met. He does however, appear outspoken, and that is a factor he and others will have to refactor to get things moving.

...Prince is clearly the brainchild of Michael Day, whom I instantly liked based on his balanced and toned down presentation style. He seems to be observant, respectful and willing to improve his product.

Good. This is what we need.

I think the war “against” CSS is lost — it is my firm belief that the typographic community has to accept, embrce and then try to extend it.

I am willing to accept it and get behind it if it can be improved and made to serve the needs of professional publishers.

We should learn to talk to people such as Håkon Lie, form a coalition of people interested in quality text composition and promote our ideas among the web people.

If Håkon Lie can learn to appreciate what type designers and commercial publishers do, you got a deal. He is most welcome here. We are more than capable of making the effort to accomodate him and his colleagues, provided such collaboration is mutual. Keep it civil people. James P. mind your language.

In fact, unlike Håkon Lie, many of the “web people” do appreciate the 500-year old legacy of traditional printing, with all its legibility optimization process. If the web wants to become the new book, it needs to learn from the vast knowledge amassed within the school of old book. It is quite obvious that web developers and also browser developers typically come from a different angle — so now is the time to educate them about the reasons why typography is not just for people who deal with lead.

Alright. Let's do it. Make it happen. I'm with you all the way Adam (weather permitting).

j a m e s

mikeday's picture

Hello all,

To jump into the conversation, I would like to say that in my personal opinion the web has been a giant leap forwards for worldwide information distribution, and a giant leap backwards for high-quality typography and typesetting. However, we believe that it's possible to do something about the latter, and Prince is the result of our efforts to make printing a first-class citizen of the web.

We still have a long way to go, and as was mentioned in the Tech Talk we have only just begun to scratch the surface when it comes to hyphenation, OpenType features and other fun stuff. However, we're always interested in hearing new feature requests. Further up the thread someone mentioned that it is impossible to apply certain OpenType features with CSS, this is something that we would like to support in Prince, so that decorative swashes or old-style numerals could be selected using the font-variant property (which currently only supports small-caps) or some other mechanism.

There is also the question of fonts on the web, but this seems to rouse strong feelings on both sides and should perhaps be sequestered in a thread of its own :)

Best regards,

Michael

Dan Gayle's picture

Hello Michael,

metalfoot's picture

I like the concept of Prince. I'll keep an eye on how it develops.

dberlow's picture

I'm not too familiar with the motive for making the web a better WYSIWYG platform, so I'd like to hear more on that.


(took more than 400 keystrokes, that)

Cheers!

aluminum's picture

Mike:

Thanks for stopping by! Your comments are appreciated. Please, stick around!

aluminum's picture

"I’m not too familiar with the motive for making the web a better WYSIWYG platform, so I’d like to hear more on that."

Not quite sure what part of the conversation you are referring to, but in the context of Prince, from my perspective, it's not about WYSIWYGifying the web, but rather leveraging the ability of CSS for print, which, up to this point, hasn't been supported by any application to an extent that would even make it remotely feasible for print publishing.

pattyfab's picture

I came from a layout (WYSIWYG) platform - cut and paste - so the transition to digital using Quark and later InDesign was pretty intuitive. But I can't even manage to remember how to insert a link into a typophile post, so a code-based layout program doesn't sound very appealing to me. My limited web expertise is Dreamweaver which has suited me just fine, but I recognize its limitations in terms of code. For someone whose orientation is web (or code) based, adapting CSS to print (if this becomes possible) would seem like a natural step.

I'll just sit here using my layout programs and wait for the web to catch up in terms of precision and quality. I'm certainly not going to learn a confusing new app (CSS) until that happens.

aluminum's picture

"so a code-based layout program doesn’t sound very appealing to me"

But surely you've used styles within XPress and Indesign, right? CSS really isn't that far removed from that...at least conceptually. Granted, the UI to manipulate said styles might not be up to par yet.

pattyfab's picture

I definitely use styles, but even then it's point and click. I don't know CSS at all, but what I've seen of html I know it's way over my head. It reminds me of the old PC days - wordperfect and such. But CSS could be different and if I'm wrong I apologize. I don't have an hour to watch that video and find out. I can get as far as making text italic and bold in html but that's about all I can manage.

Dan Gayle's picture

CSS would be really easy to understand if we were coding for standards compliant browsers, because it's all supposedly based on a box model that we as designers can understand. The same as a text or photo box in InDesign, with stylesheets on the side determining margins and text and stuff.

You want three boxes. You want this box here, this box here, and this box here. I want one 12pt em space separating them all. I want the text to be like so in this box, and like so in the other two. And I want a photo with a keyline with a 12pt em space around it in one of the boxes.

Sounds easy, right? The actual CSS for that is incredibly easy. The big problem is that none of the browsers will read your spacing requirements the same. Safari/FF/IE will all space things differently, and your layout WILL BREAK if designed according to proper specifications.

What looks cool about Prince is that it will simply do what you wanted it to do to begin with, according to your valid HTML and CSS.

If you're going to give us specifications, you have to honor those specifications. If not, what's the whole point?

BlueStreak's picture

“I’m not too familiar with the motive for making the web a better WYSIWYG platform, so I’d like to hear more on that.”

That was a rhetorical statement, right? or Sarcasm?

joeclark's picture

CSS manifestly is the issue.

DanGayle, your three-“box” layout will break in IE6, not in non-braindead browsers. You can take care of IE using conditional comments, which will leave you feeling only moderately impure.

Patty, you have probably been looking at tag-soup HTML. I assure you that standards-compliant HTML is a concept that can be learned in eight minutes flat and is easy as pie to do. If blind teenagers can learn it (after deprogramming them from tag-soup methods), you can, too. Some unusually complex documents require unusual semantics, but really, most Web sites are headings, paragraphs, lists, images, and forms, all but the last of which are dead simple.


Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

Don McCahill's picture

The biggest jump that a print designer has to make in designing for the web is that there is no page. When you design anything for print, one of the first things you determine is "how big is the page" that it will be printed on.

On the web, you never know. The person might be viewing at 640x400 resolution, or it might be even larger than 1280x920, or something else. Some pages are even accessible from cell phones. It creates an entirely new paradigm for the designer to deal with. You can't be content with making a page look pretty on your monitor, it has to be useful on all monitors.

(And that isn't even getting into the problems with color.)

Florian Hardwig's picture

The person might be viewing

You even can’t be sure about that; CSS is not limited to visual media. One can also define aural stylesheets with it. (Admittedly, this has nothing to do with Prince.)

Dan Gayle's picture

As a totally rad sidenote, did anyone notice the little bit of Javascript now available from Google?

Quote:
IE7 is a JavaScript library to make Microsoft Internet Explorer behave like a standards-compliant browser. It fixes many HTML and CSS issues and makes transparent PNG work correctly under IE5 and IE6. Endquote.

The cool part is that you can hotlink it straight from Google's page. What this means is that all of a sudden, you as a designer might be able to FORCE IE into be a standards compliant browser. (Mostly.) Take a look at this page to see all of the fixes.

Happy Dance!

James Arboghast's picture

Thanks for the link Dan :^) Very useful.

j a m e s

aluminum's picture

Dan...that is interesting. I had forgotten about that nifty script. Looks like he's made a major update to it.

elliot100's picture

Getting off the subject a little, but related to above -- I only recently came to understand that some of the cross-browser issues I'd seen were not bugs but just differences in browsers' inbuilt default styles.

Unless you've defined every property of every element some of the default styles will be inherited - eg (something I'd overlooked) line-height.

A "reset" style sheet can help by providing a consistent unstyled baseline for each element.

http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/reset/

Here's an example of resetting and then providing a very basic styled baseline

http://www.monc.se/tripoli/

howcome's picture

Thanks for inviting me in. I see that my tounge-in-cheek remarks about InDesign users in the corner has caused some remarks. I think InDesign will live a long and happy life, but I do believe the web will live even longer. Including CSS. Which is why it's important that it works well for all sorts of uses.

I proposed CSS in 1994 and it's been an important part of my life since then. My motivation for doing this work is twofold. First, it's important that the markup languages of the web are spared from holding all the typographic and presentational information that we want to associate with documents. Second, we need ways to express beautiful typography and design for web documents.

I have described CSS and compared it with other style sheet languages in my PhD Thesis:

http://people.opera.com/howcome/2006/phd/

So far, I think CSS has been reasonably successful in establishing a baseline foundatation for style sheets on the web, and -- by now -- all browsers supports CSS1 reasonably well. It's also clear that much work remains in advancing the specifications further, and to ensure that they are interoperably implemented by browsers and other formatters (e.g., Prince). I think the Typofile community can play an important role here.

One of the things I have been pushing in the last year is web fonts. The web is stuck with 10 or so fonts that Microsoft published in 1996. They have served us well, but we need more fonts in order to improve typography on the web. There are thousands of freely usable fonts on the web but there is a missing link; browsers don't support the linking of fonts from style sheets to font files. I'm trying to change this; I want browsers to support the CSS2 specification from 1996 which described how to do this.

http://www.news.com/Microsofts-forgotten-monopoly/2010-1032_3-6085417.html
http://www.alistapart.com/articles/cssatten

Prince now supports Web Fonts, as does nightly builds of Safari. We're working on it in Opera, too.

A common argument against webfonts is that not all TrueType files out there are good enough for web use. They may have limited unicode coverage, lack ligatures or simply look horrific. Some people have commisioned studies that say only a fraction of the fonts are suitable for web use!

I think that's great news! 5% of thousands is still plenty of new fonts. As support for webfonts increase, I think web designers will start using them in creative ways which will result in more fonts being developed, with wider unicode coverage etc. The tide will rise for all of us.

Some of you may worry that webfonts is threat to your existing business models and that font piracy will increase when everyone can point to a font file on the web. While it's true that linking is very powerful, there are also ways to restrict it. For example, a web server can check the 'Referer' field in HTTP and only serve fonts to those requests coming from a sanctioned list of documents. This is not a failsafe method -- it's probably as easy to crack as the EOT obfuscation -- but it will stop much abuse.

On a more technical topic, I'm working on extending the 'font-variant' propoerty in CSS to better select fonts with OpenType features. Would this be of interest in this forum?

http://people.opera.com/howcome/

Dan Gayle's picture

Welcome to Typophile :)

So you, uh, invented CSS huh? Cool. Not quite Tim Berners-Lee, but still cool.

I think one problem that you'll run into when discussing web fonts is that your 5% "good enough for web use" free fonts is in most Typophile's estimates, 4.9% too high. (No offense James or Nick and Co.)

Granted, there are some fonts available out there that are of excellent quality with an open license like the Vera fonts, Charter, etc., but I for one do not want to see a worldwide web populated with the likes of Black Chancery or any of the 2002 Honest Fonts.

Inevitably, someone will put commercial fonts on a server in Russia, and allow people to hotlink off of it. While Adobe, or certainly Berthold, would love to go hunting with cease and desist orders, the hard-working men and women of this website simply don't have the financial backing to go hunting after every single abuse. It's just not reasonable.

twardoch's picture

> Inevitably, someone will put commercial fonts on a server
> in Russia, and allow people to hotlink off of it.

You can think of it this way:

People have always distributed commercial fonts illegally. Will font embedding change that, principally? Not really. However, the fonts that will be linked against web pages will be much easier to discover than the illegally distributed archives that are RARed, ZIPped, password protected and uploaded on rapidshare.com or something like that. And, sure, there will be some additional piracy going on, but there will be also a chance to obtain additional license fees from legitimate customers who will WANT to embed their fonts into wed pages using the direct linking mechanism. A font foundry will have a good argument to charge additional money for that type of license -- the foundry can argument that, indeed, the font files are being made accessible to the public without any protection, so the customer has to pay considerably more.

In my opinion, the pirates wouldn't have paid anyway, so the loss is only theoretical, while the potential gain is actual since there are real money-making possibilities due to additional licensing sales. OpenType was one chance to cash in on potential font upgrades to clients who had happily used their Type 1 fonts before that. The Euro character also such a chance. Web font embedding will be another.

Regards,
Adam

Stephen Coles's picture

Håkon - I'm so pleased to see you've made it to this forum. I commend your work on CSS and bringing typographic control to the web. What seems missing in your efforts (which I believe are laudable and sincere) is the advice of professional typographers. You need the consultation of people who are not necessarily web designers, but experts in readability, type selection, and typesetting fundamentals. Opening your door to Typophile, which is full of such experts, is a great first step.

James Arboghast's picture

Welcome to the Typophile forums Håkon Lie. We are most keen to have you here and very keen to discuss the future of CSS and embedded web fonts. Thank you for coming along :^)

And, sure, there will be some additional piracy going on, but there will be also a chance to obtain additional license fees from legitimate customers who will WANT to embed their fonts into wed pages using the direct linking mechanism. A font foundry will have a good argument to charge additional money for that type of license — the foundry can argument that, indeed, the font files are being made accessible to the public without any protection, so the customer has to pay considerably more.

That sounds okay in theory. In practice, how much extra in the way of additional licensing fees will font makers or vendors deem such usage to be worth, and will customers be willing to pay that amount for using a font on a webpage?

Off the top of my head, I imagine I would be charging between $500 and $1000 U.S, possibly a good deal more, for this kind of licensing, depending on the font. And I'm only a smallfry independent font maker. How much would a large 'foundry' charge? Some of them put up to a million dollars into the development of one font (or a font family, say). If only two license sales are possible for web use, the fee will be hefty.

In my opinion, the pirates wouldn’t have paid anyway, so the loss is only theoretical, while the potential gain is actual since there are real money-making possibilities due to additional licensing sales.

The potential gain in large one-off license sales for web use I can see, but font makers who put their wares up for this arrangement can virtually kiss future retail license sales of their commercial font products goodbye once those fonts become widely distributed for free courtesy of the server somewhere in Russia syndrome.

I think one problem that you’ll run into when discussing web fonts is that your 5% “good enough for web use” free fonts is in most Typophile’s estimates, 4.9% too high. (No offense James or Nick and Co.)

No problem Dan. I agree with your estimate. 5% is 4.9% too high.

...the hard-working men and women of this website simply don’t have the financial backing to go hunting after every single abuse. It’s just not reasonable.

This is true. I don't have the resources required to deal with piracy on such a scale, neither does Nick Curtis, or Ray Larabie, or anyone else we consider independent.

j a m e s

twardoch's picture

> will customers be willing to pay that amount for using a font on a webpage?

Sure thing. When developing websites, people pay for hosting services, web development, design, photos. And people who make print publications regularly pay for fonts. I think companies will be delighted to pay for font web use if this will allow them to break free from the Verdana-Georgia-Arial closet.

> can virtually kiss future retail license sales of their commercial font
> products goodbye once those fonts become widely distributed for free
> courtesy of the server somewhere in Russia syndrome.

Virtually ALL commercial fonts ARE already in distribution "for free courtesy of the server somewhere in Russia syndrome", and have been FOR YEARS -- just like software from Microsoft, Adobe, FontLab etc. -- on Usenet, rapidshare, various forums, BitTorrent etc. etc. etc.

I have not seen font distributors or software distributors "kissing goodbye retail sales" in the past years. Plus, as I said -- unlike illegitimate use in print, which is difficult to track down, illegal use of fonts that will be linked directly to web pages will be the easiest thing to discover. After all, that use will be indexed by Google and stored pretty much forever at archive.org.

The fact that I put up an image or a font on my site and use it with my content does not mean that that image or font is "available for free". Everyone knows that they cannot freely use any stuff just because they were able to download it from "the internets" -- including software, graphics, and now fonts. Most people are very aware of what piracy is, and know at least the fundamental difference between legitimate and illegitimate use of software assets. If font distributors make it easy enough for people to pay for those assets and use them the way they wish, people WILL pay.

Why am I sure? Because that's what they're already doing. It is already easy to download pirated fonts from a number of sources, and it is quite possible to extract font outlines from PDF documents, Flash files, Word documents. And? People are still paying for fonts. Chris, kids have been paying for mobile phone ringtones and icons, and that business is worth millions.

Pirates can rub their butts sore uploading fonts to Russian servers all day long -- yet only a considerably small proportion of users will link to those and use them. And those users wouldn't probably pay anyway. But once this thing sets off, the people who HAVE THE MONEY and are willing to pay WILL PAY.

Facebook has over 50 million users, MySpace is rumored to have twice as many. I dare to say that no less than 5% of those would be willing to pay a small amount of money (like $10) for the ability to customize their profile appearance using a different font. It's a fraction of what people spend on buying silly t-shirts.

A.

twardoch's picture

> I don’t have the resources required to deal with piracy on such a scale,
> neither does Nick Curtis, or Ray Larabie, or anyone else we consider independent.

True. This is why you should forget about hunting pirates, come up with a new licensing model that would cover web font embedding, and wait for the sound of the nickel. Or of the cash register desk, if that's your preferred metaphor.

A.

Si_Daniels's picture

So, the vendors need to change their EULAs to allow this... I think the chances are zero to slim.

My observation has been that they've been going in the opposite direction in recent years, restricting what you can do with the PDF, banning WEFT, outlawing Flash, mostly in response to fears of unauthorized use/extraction.

Cheers, Si

Dan Gayle's picture

My EULA will prohibit screen rendering. In fact, it already does.

Presenting my new font, DanSans:

Dan Gayle's picture

I vote that Adobe be the first to allow this usage. They won't be though. It will probably be a Roger Black-led re-design of some magazine or newspaper's website using a proprietary Font Bureau salvaging of an obscure Benton typeface from the early 20th century.

Money? Anyone care for odds?

Si_Daniels's picture

>My EULA will prohibit screen rendering. In fact, it already does.

You joke Dan, but I'd wager that I can find a font EULA that not only prohibits screen display but also printing ;-)

James Arboghast's picture

Adam, I understand the rationale of the scenario you propose---there is a lot to be said for positive thinking on this issue, as font makers and those selling licences can do a lot worse than changing their license terms and conditions to suit a new business model, like not changing it or making it more restrictive.

Nonetheless, I think the new situation is not as simple as proponents make it out to be. We need more input on this from larger font makers and vendors. My perspective is of limited scope. It has been a while since I monitored font piracy, so the current extent of it is unfamiliar.

@Adam: This is why you should forget about hunting pirates, come up with a new licensing model that would cover web font embedding, and wait for the sound of the nickel. Or of the cash register desk, if that’s your preferred metaphor.

I'm willing to give it a trial to see how it works. I can afford to because the stakes aren't as high for me as they would be for a large outfit that invests a great deal more labor in their products.

@Sii: So, the vendors need to change their EULAs to allow this... I think the chances are zero to slim.

My observation has been that they’ve been going in the opposite direction in recent years, restricting what you can do with the PDF, banning WEFT, outlawing Flash, mostly in response to fears of unauthorized use/extraction.

@DanGale: My EULA will prohibit screen rendering. In fact, it already does.

Well, there you go. That's the reation. I appreciate why it's going that way. It seems there is a degree of paranoia involved, fueling the ever-more-restrictive EULA. I have resisted the trend for years and have no plans to make my EULAs more restrictive.

Dan, if your proposed EULA prohibits screen rendering, does that mean vendors will not be permitted to show potential buyers what your font(s) look like? If so, selling any retail licenses at all will be rather difficult.

The answer is to trust everyone, but cut the cards. In other words, at a minimum you should trust vendors and media buyers to render and assess your fonts online, but if they abuse your trust, then do something about it.

j a m e s

Dan Gayle's picture

@James
'Twas a joke, kind sir.

@Adam
I like your approach. Instead of worrying about what kind of money a foundry might be losing via pirates, a foundry might instead start worrying about what profit making opportunities they might be missing out on.

I like the ringtone analogy, but it might fit the big boys better than the small foundries. The record labels are sitting on old music that isn't going anywhere. There's no cost to sell an Eagles tune, since all of the production and expenses were paid back in the 70s. Now all they have to do is sell the crap out of it, and it's pure gold.

Same with Mono/Lino, etc. They have all of these typefaces that have already been designed and digitized sitting around in digital dustbins, so why not push them out there and make more profit off of it if someone is willing to pay?

James Arboghast's picture

Dan, that's cool.

...if someone is willing to pay?

Yep. I don't mind as long as  s o m e b o d y  is paying.

Let's say I release a font with provisions in the EULA that allow embedding on webpages, and charge $500 for one customer's use of the font on a website (multiple webpages). If the font file the customer installs on their server is not protected (how else can users viewing the web page see the font in their browsers?), dozens if not hundreds of enterprising clever dicks will make copies of the font file and distribute it without authorization. The next potential customer who wants to use my font on a webpage is not likely to shell out any money at all for a license fee if my font becomes freely distributed, when they can link to an unorthorized copy for zero cost. I'm talking about  w i d e l y  d i s t r i b u t e d, actual font files. Extracting outlines from PDFs doesn't have the same impact that distribution of the font file does.

j a m e s

Dan Gayle's picture

Wow dude, you must be out of the loop something fierce. I, and anyone else, can have all of the major foundries folios in a hop, skip, and a jump via the methods described above by Adam. The facts are simple, if I want your font for free, I can get it.

Illegally, but I can get it.

What Adam is saying is that if someone is going to steal their font, that person is likely to have already done so. What the foundries are depending upon is the solitary, sometimes institutionalized, consciences of individuals and companies determined to do the right thing. (Or at least, the legal thing.)

Si_Daniels's picture

>I have resisted the trend for years and have no plans to make my EULAs more restrictive.

But with all due respect you don't even mention web based document embedding, Flash, EOT, PPT etc.,

http://www.myfonts.com/viewlicense?lid=359

Miss Tiffany's picture

From the recent survey I did involving foundries and embedding for the web (and Si please assist on this)

30 were surveyed
of these, 12 allowed some sort of embedding
of these, 7 wanted additional licensing

I think there are people who might be willing to pay additional fees. But I say might with emphasis. I think foundries are lucky, and they know it, (in general) to get the first fee for which they ask, let alone additional fees. I do think the larger corporations are different, but how different? I don't know.

An aside. Yes there are many people who upload and download at will. Yes at the end of the day it is, as Adam said, only a theoretical loss. But, I'd be willing to bet that of those who do download many are designers who shouldn't be doing it to begin with. So, it is money lost and it isn't something that can just be chalked up as a theoretical loss. Designers are taking advantage of it and so are taking advantage of the foundries.

James Arboghast's picture

What Adam is saying is that if someone is going to steal their font, that person is likely to have already done so. What the foundries are depending upon is the solitary, sometimes institutionalized, consciences of individuals and companies determined to do the right thing. (Or at least, the legal thing.)

Yes, I understand how that works, and how easily you or anyone else who wants to can obtain my fonts for nothing. So I give unscrupulous users less reason to distribute my work illicitly by making some of my fonts downloadable from the authorized vendor (Myfonts) for zero cost, with the option to purchase a license if they want to use it on a paying job and believe in doing the right thing.

In practice, only a dozen or so people each year purchase licences for the fonts I make available with an optional free license. Hundreds more download the free license version and I know (because I've seen the evidence) many of them use the fonts for profit. If I offered the same dual license/try before you buy deal for everything in my catalog, the revenue would not even cover operating costs---I would operate at a loss and probably give up releasing retail fonts.

@sii: But with all due respect you don’t even mention web based document embedding, Flash, EOT, PPT etc.,

(those) Uses not addressed in my EULA are permitted by default of common law. It's a free world. What I don't explicitly prohibit in writing is permitted.

Can we get off the topic of embedding for a while and discuss the otehr aspects of CSS that need to be sorted out please?

Thanks, guys.

j a m e s

James Arboghast's picture

So, it is money lost and it isn’t something that can just be chalked up as a theoretical loss. Designers are taking advantage of it and so are taking advantage of the foundries.

Exactly the point I'm trying to make. Thanks Tiffany.

j a m e s

James Arboghast's picture

@Dan Gayle: Wow dude, you must be out of the loop something fierce. I, and anyone else, can have all of the major foundries folios in a hop, skip, and a jump via the methods described above by Adam. The facts are simple, if I want your font for free, I can get it.

If it's a font from a "major foundry" you can probably get hold of it easily for free, once you know how. The fact that you and Adam both know how to obtain major commercial font products for free makes me wonder about your professionalism, and that of others, as far as working designers go. Forgive me for making that remark---I am not trying to personally attack anyone here, but citing an example of how faith in wider trust of an industry can be so easily eroded by a few who are in the know (in the loop).

The fonts I make are much, much harder to come by illicitly because they're not as extensively marketed as the products of larger players, so there is less demand for them. That's one reason why I value being an independent and have stayed independent. It's a way of protecting my best interests. Working for a "major foundry" entails a greater risk of having your work knocked off.

Let's move on to CSS formatting and related issues.

j a m e s

James Arboghast's picture

@Arbo: ...I understand how that works, and how easily you or anyone else who wants to can obtain my fonts for nothing.

Make that---"how easily you or anyone else who wants to can obtain fonts from major foundries for nothing".

j a m e s

Jongseong's picture

I have not read this whole thread, but I'll throw this out there anyway. Web fonts are thriving in Korea at the moment. Cyworld, the popular Korean website that offered personal spaces on the web years before MySpace, is selling about 25,000 web fonts a day, which amounts to 10 billion won (about 10 milion US dollars) in sales per year.

Users buy web fonts so they can personalize their "mini homepages", bulletin board and forum entries, and email messages on websites like Cyworld and other large network orportal sites. Web fonts are predominantly pixel fonts, and this has been a big part of their success in Korea. Because Korean fonts for print require hangul, with thousands of glyphs, they often require years of work and can be quite expensive. There is not much variety, either. But pixel fonts can be produced in a tiny fraction of the time, and thus hundreds of hangul web fonts have sprung up, produced by traditional type foundries as well as new outfits devoted to web fonts.

I must confess I do not know much about this phenomenon, since my primary interest is in print typography. I've never bought a web font, and I'm not really interested in doing so.

A few quick points... The Korean web environment is different from what you may be used to. Koreans are used to buying a lot of virtual items like personalized avatar elements and items needed for multi-user games. Also, many spend an inordinate amount of time on the large Korean websites that provide the web font services. Finally, none of these web fonts that I've seen are suitable for print, as the vast majority are pixel fonts, and even those that are not are heavily compromised for screen use.

Dan Gayle's picture

Now THERE's a thought. Bitmap only fonts. That could satisfy a whole lot of people, I would think, for exactly the same reasons you mentioned. Great post.

ralf h.'s picture

is selling about 25,000 web fonts a day, which amounts to 10 billion won (about 10 milion US dollars) in sales per year.

Wow! That's great news!

Now THERE’s a thought. Bitmap only fonts.

No, that's really no solution. We already had the hype around (super pixel) flash fonts, but I'm glad that this is going away. That's not the way the web should work.

But why does it have to be a black or white discussion? Lets say you have a font family in 6 weights and 4 optical sizes. You don't need to offer all this with a web license. Just select a single display style or a little font family of 2 or 4 styles, optimize them for the screen and offer only those styles for web embedding. You may not only make profit with those styles, but you will also advertise the whole font family.

Ralf

twardoch's picture

> The fact that you and Adam both know how to obtain major commercial
> font products for free makes me wonder about your professionalism,
> and that of others, as far as working designers go.

It makes you *worry* about our professionalism? I would think the opposite should be true. I think it wouldn't be very professional of me to talk about an issue that I have no clue of. Sure, there are such people but I don't like belonging to them.

Just like many other colleagues involved in font work, I've been looking at the situation in the piracy world. Whenever a new source of pirated fonts surfaces, or a substantial number of pirated fonts appears in the known channels, I, along with others, inform the respective right owners — some of them take legal steps while others let it roll. I have also helped uncover other kinds of piracy — those when a designer uses other font's outlines to create derivative fonts that he then tries to sell as his own. And of course I have experimented with font extraction from PDF or Flash documents — how else would I be able to advise any of my clients (various font vendors large and small) on its viability.

The nature of my work is font business and technology. My clients pay me to have knowledge and assist them with it when they need it. I think it would be very unprofessional of me if I based my knowledge only on reading the tealeaves.

A.

Syndicate content Syndicate content