One "luser's" opinion on EULA's and embedding

42ndssd's picture

I'm not a "designer" (heaven forbid!), I'm just a person who appreciates nice fonts and decent text layouts. That's why so far I've let other people make fonts and stuck to making the awful text layouts myself.

I'm developing several largish text publications (700 pages each) which will be freely distributed over the web in PDF format (and ASCII text, and HTML, and...). That's free as in no charge whatsoever.

I know I'm batshit crazy, but I'd prefer to inflict something other than Arial, Computer Modern or Comic Sans MS on the reader. (This is my secret strategem to slightly mitigate whatever poor typesetting skills TeX and I share.) But that pretty much means embedding fonts, since it's likely the user won't have whatever odd fonts I happen to pick. (Well, ya know, Comic Sans is mighty tempting... and most people have it...)

I had the unusual idea of purchasing a few relevant fonts instead of, say, downloading them for free from some pirate font site or buying one of those three zillion font collection CDs that are mostly copies of other people's fonts. I'd also love to support one or more of the independent fonthouses instead of spending $$$ to make Linotype's pockets even more bloated. I've seen some really beautiful work from independent designers in the last couple of weeks.

Initial cost isn't an issue, but the licensing is; there's no way in fraing heck I'm going to pay someone $150 a year (or the low, low price of just $.10 a download!) for the privilege of distributing a free document. Sorry. I may be wacky, but not that wacky.

After wasting a lot of time staring at legalese-riddled EULAs and sending a few emails, my conclusion was that none of the independents are interested in my business. That's fine. I can just as easily give my money to AgfaMonotype/Linotype/Adobe, and I did.

I firmly believe the independents are accomplishing nothing more than hurting themselves with these restrictive EULAs. There are, obviously, two classes of font users: legitimate users and pirates. Honest users are not going to waste their time extracting partial fonts with stripped kerning info from PDF files, they'll happily cough up the $$$ for the originals due to honesty and appreciation for the effort involved in creating a font. Unlicensed users won't bother with this either, they'll either not use a given font or they'll get the original files from someone for free... and yes, I've held in my hot little hands illegal copies of (for example) all of Emigre's fonts, so you can't tell me this stuff isn't happening despite the prohibitions on font embedding. In my view these EULAs are telling potential users "you might as well pirate, since you may not be able to use them the way you need anyway".

(I absolutely do not condone piracy and I don't own or use any pirated fonts or other software. I'm just trying to point out the realities of the situation.)

The notion of "value add" when it comes to distributing embedded fonts in an electronic document goes way over my head. Electronic publishing is no different from paper publishing; while I can imagine a printed book that has all the letters in typewriter script and directions to "buy a printed copy of something that looks like Bodoni (preferably ITC Bodoni but use whatever you can afford), then cut out the appropriate letters and glue them in place", that seems slightly insane. I'm looking to buy fonts I can use--understand? Not look at, not install on my computer and then wistfully hope someone else has them too, but *use*. If that means embedding them in a freely distributed PDF document, so be it.

My intent isn't to start a long argument/open another can of worms; the worm cans are wide open and it seems they've been crawling around loose for a while. I'm just another luser trying to let designers know they've lost some business, and why.

marcox's picture

Great post, 42nd. I hope you'll stick around to discuss some of the issues you've raised.

If you're still looking for a typeface, consider Storm Type's Lido. It's eminently readable, can be embedded without contravening the EULA*, and it's free for personal/non-profit use.

*As near as I can tell.

Si_Daniels's picture

You certainly make some valid points, and if I were in your position I would probably have done the same thing, perhaps being even more conservative and sticking with Adobe fonts, so that if were to ever need to charge for the docs I would avoid possible

dan_reynolds's picture

Hi 42nd, I enjoyed your post. I don't like the confusing, perplexing, and differing nature of EULAs, either. That is why I'm glad that many foundries, like the one I work for (Linotype), see PDF-Embedding as fair use.

I'm sorry that your first choice wasn't to shop with us

42ndssd's picture

I feel a need to apologize--I got a bit distracted and forgot to check back...

Thanks, everyone. I've enjoyed browsing through the site and the comments here are greatly appreciated. I was feeling a tad bit frustrated at the time I wrote my rant, but I felt the message needed to be heard. (Perhaps all the legalese was getting to my brain. :-))

Frustrated, because I was ready to spend money on entire font libraries from various publishers, but they couldn't see their way clear to allow use in free publications. Obviously they have the right to make whatever licensing agreements they want--but I still believe they will eventually price themselves out of business this way.

While I love "dead media" (99.9% of the books I read are printed on paper and I have a large collection of rare books), it's crucial to recognize publishing solely in electronic form is a reality... and, with increasing display and laser printer resolution, quality fonts are becoming more important than ever. (Bad sales pitches written for free on request. :-))

I've read several rants from typophilists complaining about the heavy (ab)use of certain ugly free fonts. I gotta wonder if some of these people are the same ones who want to charge for embedding. Ironic? Naw...

I certainly didn't mean to slam Linotype per se--they were just the first "big name" that popped into my head. Dan, I've seen many admirable Linotype fonts, and I agree they're a good value; I'm sure I'll end up using several Linotype fonts in my projects. Maybe they should feel honored that I view them as a giant juggernaut crushing the competition in their path...

(The only complaint I have with Linotype's offerings is a minor one--I prefer buying "volume sets" for a family instead of individual faces, and frequently I find Linotype doesn't have a set for the family I'm looking at. I should probably just break down and buy a complete library.)

My main reason for wanting to support some of the newer houses is to promote diversity. For ideological reasons I prefer markets with many participants rather than a few big ones, and given a choice of where to spend money I prefer to encourage smaller companies. New entrants seem to be popping up anyway--it's just a personal bent.

What struck me as a little strange was the uniformity of the EULAs in regards to font embedding, at least for the independent houses I looked at. I'd see the same basic wording time and time again, even down to the same exact fees. It really made me wonder if they were honestly thinking about these issues, or they were merely going with the crowd.

I honestly expected to find a few developers explicitly advertising "we allow PDF font embedding with no restrictions!". No such luck... unless you count places such as SSI, of course. I'm rather curious if most purchasers are aware of the embedding restrictions; actually, they probably are and just don't care.

Tiffany: I'd read your excellent wiki before posting here and I pretty much agree with everything there. While it strongly goes against my grain to see extra charges for embedding fonts in commercial contexts, I agree they should have the right to do this--and I see this as distinctly different from giving away or emailing a PDF document.

(I also find the laptop issue particularly amusing because I do all my work on one, and I'm sure the server installation issues are such a huge pain-in-the-arse in larger groups that people do it anyway.)

Similar issues often come up with "ordinary" software, but I feel the situation is a little different with fonts because of the large number of them, and the transitory nature and contexts of their use. While some of the EULA restrictions may make sense in isolation, in the grand scheme of things these restrictions can become a serious problem, and the usual solution is to just ignore the agreement when it becomes too inconvenient.

The whole issue of commercial fonts represents a personal quandary, as I'm a dyed-in-the-wool free software supporter and developer. I worked at Cygnus Support for a few years and I fully embraced their business model, I use Linux, and it's 99.9% certain anything I produce in the future will be freely available in some form.

At the same time it doesn't bother me (much) to pay a reasonable fee for use of a font--as long as I can really make use of it. What's the difference? There's no support model for fonts. When a user obtains a font it "just works", and there's no way for a developer to make an income by providing support services. ("Pay us to tweak individual glyphs for you" just doesn't sound viable. :-))

While people may occasionally request development of new fonts, I suspect relying on this income source would severely limit the size of the market.

dan_reynolds's picture

>(The only complaint I have with Linotype's offerings is a minor one--I prefer buying "volume sets" for a family instead of individual faces, and frequently I find Linotype doesn't have a set for the family I'm looking at. I should probably just break down and buy a complete library.)

This is actually a design glitch on our part rather than a direct decision. Let me say that we are fully aware of this, and see it as a problem, too. We are working on the best possible soultion as quickly as possible. This really, really isn't a cop-out! I just can't go into exact details :-(

I'd also like to say that we have a long history of working with other large foundries

42ndssd's picture

[i]{>but we try really, really hard not to be evil ;)}

Fair 'nough; it sounds to me Linotype is trying to do the right thing, many right things in fact. I wish more big companies would subscribe to this philosophy... seems an awful lot of them aspire to being as least as evil as possible. :-) I humbly apologize for any slurs I have cast; in the future I will certainly malign some other evil font foundry.

(To paraphrase Groucho: "Stop by your local Linotype/DeSoto dealer tomorrow for a test drive... and tell'em Groucho sent ya.")

I think Adobe is another company trying to do "the right thing", at least when it comes to EULAs and embedded fonts. 'course they have a (slight?) vested interest in the issue, but as long as the consumer comes out ahead it's OK with me.

I'm very impressed people can make a living "tweaking individual glyphs", as it were. I could easily imagine people making a career out of creating fonts but never would've have guessed at a "support" role.

I see most of the "fonts for money" issue more as ideology than anything else. As an example, I've read Luc's discussion about fonts not actually being software; from a technical perspective I can easily agree with both sides of the argument. On the other foot I get very unhappy with the idea of patenting algorithms, as many times there aren't any different or more efficient ways to accomplish the same ends, and the ideas aren't terribly innovative.

I see fonts as closer to "art" than to "technology", even the electronic sort, so I'm more willing to cut font designers some slack. But that's a very personal view not particularly justified by any facts.

What I [i]{do} know is I now clearly understand why people dislike Type 1 fonts... the character to glyph mapping is a mess, and the only workaround is a lot of manual processing. (Unfortunately the tools I'm using make it awkward to work with OpenType fonts so I'm stuck with T1.)

In the immortal words of that famous philosopher Dudley Do-Right, "I learn something new every day."... and this has been a very interesting discussion. Thanks.

hrant's picture

Useful thread.

42nd, one thing you might like to be aware of is something that probably suits your "ideology" to a tee: an upcoming version of Baskerville that will be distributed for free (and also be freely modifiable) by the Tex Users Group.


dan_reynolds's picture

>I see most of the "fonts for money" issue more as ideology than anything else. As an example, I've read Luc's discussion about fonts not actually being software; from a technical perspective I can easily agree with both sides of the argument. On the other foot I get very unhappy with the idea of patenting algorithms, as many times there aren't any different or more efficient ways to accomplish the same ends, and the ideas aren't terribly innovative.

What I [i]{do
know is I now clearly understand why people dislike Type 1 fonts... the character to glyph mapping is a mess, and the only workaround is a lot of manual processing. (Unfortunately the tools I'm using make it awkward to work with OpenType fonts so I'm stuck with T1.)}

42nd, Type 1 fonts are obsolete, 8-bit software, which will eventually no longer be supported at all. Some of the tech people weighed in well in this thread:

Great things like Hrant's Baskerville aside, money is (and will remain) an essential necessity in order for new type technologies and new text families to be developed. (Hrant, won't you still be able to sell special components and additions to your Baskerville, even though the bulk of it will be distributed for free?)

addison's picture

I just purchased a license for Tribute to use on my website, and eventually on my PDF resume. I read Emigre's EULA, but not closely enough--a different type will have to be used on my resume unless I purchase another license. I totally understand the frustration, but I don't have a solution.

I did want to mention that Fountain allows embedding and distribution (if I understand their EULA correctly) and they have some nice text fonts. There is a stipulation that only 60% of the font's character set can appear in a single document (or something like that). Lars Bergquist's types are interesting to me, and Delicato appears to be a great set of types complete with ligatures and ornaments. Randy Jones' Eason will be available from Fountain at some point--another good choice.

hrant's picture

Dan, in fact one reason* I'm doing the commission for cheap is that I'll be able to piggy-back retail sales of things like smallcaps and opticals on the -hopefully large- base of freebee users.

* The other reason is that TUG is non-profit.


42ndssd's picture

I agree that Type 1 is relatively obsolete, but it has its good points. But from a software perspective TT/OpenType's complex format is a pain to work with, and most Postscript printers still natively use Type 1 fonts anyway.

Dan, in the thread you mentioned you were asking why many people still use Type 1. I do because that's all my software supports, so if I purchased any OpenType fonts I'd just have to convert them to their Type 1 equivalents... so I might as well just use the Type 1 font from the start. Another practical reason some people still use it is because some printers have support for storing font files locally on the printer, and the majority of printers in use still only support Type 1. I've also noticed that some OpenType fonts are more expensive than their Type 1 equivalents.

Getting rid of Type 1 fonts won't push people to use OpenType, it'll just be an inconvenience for those who can't use it. For example, my X server crashes when I give it OpenType fonts--even though they're supposed to be exactly equivalent to TT. (It's obviously a bug in the X server, but I don't feel like spending the time right now to track it down or upgrading software.)

The other reason (let's see if I can get the formatting right this time :-)) people aren't rushing to switch en masse may be because of a perceived lack of benefits. The only practical advantage I see for using OpenType is it mostly solves the glyph mapping issue--and for many (most?) people that's simply a non-issue. That's not to say it doesn't have other advantages (it has many), but it's unlikely most of the software currently in use can take advantage of them.

I also am wary of claims such as "it renders 300% better!" It may; but I think most of us have heard these claims before. I hasten to point out that the most common way fonts are used in electronic publications (PDF/Postscript) still natively use Type 1 fonts and outlines. (I also realize some of the OpenType benefits such as improved kerning would still apply--assuming the typesetting software can make use of it.)

Hrant, I really appreciate your work in releasing a free version of Baskerville... more quality free fonts would be a really good thing, helping to save the world from the drugery of Arial Forever. I think it makes a lot of sense to release a free core set and charge for the expert characters; it will be interesting to see how that works out... if nothing else, that approach should help to discourage pirating.

Addison, thanks for the pointer. I'm thinking about starting a webpage with links to foundries with "electronic-distribution-friendly" EULAs. I know they're out there, it's just a matter of knowing which ones.

[Now, let's see if I can post this without the dreaded MySQL socket error... perhaps the server was trying to defend itself from one of my lengthy screeds.]

hrant's picture

Just to clarify: I can't take the credit for releasing a free & libre Baskerville (it's a few monts off anyway). I'm getting paid (although a modest amount). It's TUG (and its donors) who should get the credit for it.


hankzane's picture

Hrant, why Baskerville?

hrant's picture

They chose it. Apparently it's a typeface that gets a lot of call among discerning TeX typographers, but the "natural" impediment is that they can't get it for free. I don't usually favor revivals*, but the user matters more. And anyway I actually think Baskerville is a good choice of its own in this case, since it brings some elegance to a typesetting environment that has generally lacked some aesthetic refinement, at least in its "default" choices, like Computer Modern.

* Like I would never make a Baskerville out of blue to sell retail.


hankzane's picture

Since the typeface is going to be free and all that viva la France kind of crap, would it possible to inquire into your work-in-progress files (for me specifically)? I rather curious about, not so much the outlines as the way you work on such a project.

hrant's picture

Eventually there will be an article in the TUG journal treating the process fully. I hope to make the article both revealing to non-typophiles and useful for geeks like us. It's even going to have a photo of the largest Baskerville glyph in the world*: a "g" from the Monotype cut about three stories tall on the side of the Sherman Oaks Galleria.

* That I know of. If you know of a bigger one please send a photo!

What I can tell you right now though is that I spent the first month gathering samples of existing Baskervilles (which included the printing of two metal cuts at ArcheType), thinking about what it needs to be (there's not much room for play in the Roman, but my Italic will actually attempt to be more Baskerville than Baskerville's original), and getting a grasp on the structures of certain tricky characters (like reconciling the ugliness of the "a" against historical fidelity). Now all the setup is done and I've started rendering out some key glyphs on paper.

BTW, I've also sketched out the general design of the specimen, which will actually be sort of an homage to JB's specimen sheet of 1762. I will print some with photopolymer letterpress, to accompany sales of the extensions (and to send out as shameless plugs).


hankzane's picture

Thank you for the information. Now, the million dollar question: how come TUG commissioned you and not, say,

dan_reynolds's picture

Well, Hrant is clearly the better type designer, for one.

hrant's picture

Maybe, but the biggest reason is: mindshare, baby.

BTW, it's more like 3

hankzane's picture

Heh heh

hankzane's picture

Hrant, isn't there anyone with a larger mindshare in the typographic community than you?

hrant's picture

Of course there are. But they cost a lot more (mostly because the "better type designer" clause does apply to them quite well). Most notably here they generally cost too much for your typical non-profit organization, which is what TUG is. I'm sort of in a special situation where I can make fonts at the required level, but paying my bills doesn't depend on that, so I can "speculate" (in this case by hoping for good auxiliary retail sales) and lay foundations for my future. But I'm not the only one in such a situation. Which is why "being there" is so important.


Miss Tiffany's picture

42nd ... welcome to the forums. EULAs are a fun little thing (tongue in cheek) thing to discuss amongst us users of type. I firmly believe the more we talk the more things will change ... one step at a time.

You might enjoy the wiki on the EULA. Further you should read one designer's thoughts on the EULA.

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