New to Typophile? Accounts are free, and easy to set up.
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.