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Will W3C Accept DRM For Webfonts? 315

Posted by timothy
from the magic-8-ball-time dept.
dotne writes "Microsoft has submitted Embedded OpenType (EOT) to W3C and a slimy campaign for EOT has been launched. EOT is a DRM layer on top of normal TrueType/Opentype files; EOT ties a font file to a certain web page or site and prevents reuse by other pages/sites. Microsoft's IE has supported EOT for years, but it has largely been ignored due to the clumsiness of having to regenerate font files when a page changes. Now that other browsers are moving to support normal TrueType and OpenType on the web (Safari, Opera, Mozilla, Prince), W3C is faced with a question: should they bless Microsoft's EOT for use on the web? Or, should they encourage normal font files on the web and help break Microsoft's forgotten monopoly?"
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Will W3C Accept DRM For Webfonts?

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  • by celardore (844933) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:25PM (#24783499)
    "Or, should they encourage normal font files on the web and help break Microsoft's forgotten monopoly?"

    Gee, I wonder what /. will think...
    • by AltGrendel (175092) <ag-slashdot&exit0,us> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:30PM (#24783565) Homepage
      60% will think "That depends on how much money Microsoft throws at the W3C.
      35% will think "So what, I won't use it anyway."
      4% will think "Microsoft should do whatever it pleases, nothing has stopped it from doing that anyway."

      The remaining 1% will be various trolls and flamebait.

      • by Foofoobar (318279)
        Allow me to be the aberration that only responds with a non-sequitor...
        I WANT ICE CREAMSHOE LACES!!!
      • Re:Loaded question (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Blakey Rat (99501) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @05:29PM (#24785397)

        I think the majority of responses will be:

        "Why do I need all these flashy fonts on the web anyway! I have my browser show every website in Courier 10, and daggummit, that's the way every site should be! Back when I was a kid we didn't have none of these fancy fonts and we were all happier. Websites with Flash on them are basically Satan!!! GET OFF MY LAWN!"

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by MarkKB (845289)

      "Or, should they encourage normal font files on the web and help break Microsoft's forgotten monopoly?" Gee, I wonder what /. will think...

      It's interesting to note that the linked page [cnet.com] has absolutely nothing to do with EOT; rather, it refers to Microsoft's Core Fonts for the Web.

      Besides, this is quite old news - I certainly knew about it several months ago, and the submission website [w3.org] says it was submitted in March, over five months ago.

    • It will depend on how "slimy" the campaign for EOT is. If something is slimy enough [slashdot.org], /. actually thinks it's cool.

      /. will never get tired of watching "Ghostbusters".

  • Yay! (Score:5, Funny)

    by omeomi (675045) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:27PM (#24783523) Homepage
    If there's one thing that I wake up every morning with a deep desire to have, it's more random, cutesy, difficult to read fonts on websites.
    • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Funny)

      by argent (18001) <peter AT slashdo ... taronga DOT com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:30PM (#24783557) Homepage Journal

      I haven't been so excited since JWZ came up with BLINK.

    • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Thelasko (1196535) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:49PM (#24783827) Journal
      If you thought Vista was slow now, wait until it has to check with a DRM server to display ANYTHING!

      I worked in IT for a summer when I was in college. The company's art department always needed much more powerful computers than the others. As I was setting the machines up, I discovered why they needed such fancy hardware. It was all the damn fonts! Those things made the machines so slow, it was ridiculous.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I'm pretty sure that the market of font designers interested in being able to protect their fonts isn't like that at all. There is a vast, on-going world of typographers who design completely normal, sane, and orderly-looking fonts for typesetting books and newspapers, all of which are respectable, legible, and very much concerned with readability. Because these typographers can't get everyone to buy licenses for their stuff, though, the Internet is reduced to a bare handful of typefaces, most of which aren
      • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jonbryce (703250) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:58PM (#24783951) Homepage

        The thing is that font designs aren't actually copyrightable in the US. Microsoft etc get round that by copyrighting the "font software", ie they argue that the .ttf file is actually a computer program that displays the font, and that computer program as distinct from the font design it dispays is copyrightable.

        • Srsly? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday August 28, 2008 @05:22PM (#24785253) Homepage Journal

          The thing is that font designs aren't actually copyrightable in the US

          Really? So if I make a program that takes an Adobe font, renders it into very high resolution raster, do edge detection on that, and write back my own TTF file, I can freely redistribute them? No design patents or anything?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Blah blah blah ... I make something and therefore I demand you pay me for it!
      • by argent (18001)

        If you want precise fonts, use PDF.

        As far as I know, PDF has supported embedded fonts from the start. There are some people who obsess over fonts embedded in their PDF documents and using exactly the right font, and what's the impact?

        Most people don't even notice.

        Trying to turn HTML into PDF has never worked well.

        If it doesn't even make a difference for PDF, why should we care?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          It's not exactly revolutionary to say that most people don't care about art or design. But fonts can do a lot of things nonetheless: they might contain drop-caps that don't turn into a nasty pixelated mess when printed, or they might contain other ornaments, or an alien script for a sci-fi novel. The main advantage here is that they're in a vector format with a lower overhead than SVG.

          On top of that, this can sort of be correlated to the holocaust of the GNOME stupidity debate. Why should the people who
          • Re:PDF (Score:4, Insightful)

            by argent (18001) <peter AT slashdo ... taronga DOT com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:39PM (#24784635) Homepage Journal

            But fonts can do a lot of things nonetheless: they might contain drop-caps that don't turn into a nasty pixelated mess when printed,

            like this [mandarindesign.com]?

            Why should the people who do want nice features and customization be forced to suffer because the majority simply doesn't care or won't notice?

            Are you talking about PDF, or HTML?

            If you want to deliver a print-quality document, use a format that's designed for print-quality output, like a Postscript derivative like PDF, not one that's designed for readability on a huge variety of display devices at the cost of accurate rendering.

  • DRM on FONTS?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:29PM (#24783543) Homepage Journal
    What...the...fuck?

    Next they'll have DRM on colors.
    • by argent (18001) <peter AT slashdo ... taronga DOT com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:35PM (#24783627) Homepage Journal

      Pantone would love that!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by FunkyELF (609131)
      I call #FFFFFF, #000000 and everything inbetween!
    • Re:DRM on FONTS?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:56PM (#24783913) Homepage Journal
      This may come as a shock, but professionally-designed fonts can actually take a year or two to perfect. In terms of effort involved in creating them, DRM on music is probably more absurd.
      • Re:DRM on FONTS?! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:17PM (#24784257) Homepage

        Copyright on fonts makes a lot of sense, just as for music, novels, films and a lot of other stuff.

        DRM, on the other hand, sounds like a thoroughly nasty idea; in jurisdictions with crazy laws like the DMCA, it could even make free software web browsers (that come with source code so you can modify them) illegal, just as free programs to play DVDs have been made illegal.

        • Copyright on fonts makes a lot of sense

          In an ideal world I'd agree. However the way things seem to be going I'd be dead against it because some corporate lawyer would find away to make me pay to use my own handwriting.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

        This may come as a shock, but professionally-designed fonts can actually take a year or two to perfect. In terms of effort involved in creating them, DRM on music is probably more absurd.

        This may come as a shock, but professionally-designed websites can actually take a year or two to perfect. In terms of effort involved in creating them, DRM on HTML and JavaScript has proven to be unnecessary.

    • No, no, no. You don't DRM colors. You trademark them [slashdot.org].

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Radhruin (875377)
      Have you tried to sit down and create a font before? Making a font that is suitable for a certain purpose, be it attractive headings and titles or body copy or whatever, takes a very long time, a lot of hard work, a lot of know how, and yes, artistic talent. DRM on a font is no less absurd than DRM on software, music, movies, photos, or the like.

      Now, that's not to say that DRM has a place in web fonts, and that's certainly not to say that EOT is the way to implement it. Comparing a font to a color, tho
    • Chose a Ralph Lauren color chip. Went to Home Depot to have it mixed in their brand of paint. They refused. Said the color was copyrighted. Asked a different staff member on a different day - same response. This is in Canada, where despite stronger copyright law in many areas this kind of silliness seems to be rarer.

      IANAL, but I don't believe the law supports the copyright of a color (a collection of colors might be a different matter). That's in theory. Practice, unless you have buckets of cash for

      • by swb (14022)

        Don't they SELL Ralph Lauren paint there? That might have something to do with it.

        You should take it to a paint store like Sherwin Williams where they sell their own brand, or at least cut off all the identifying information that shows its a Ralph Lauren color.

        At the very worst, buy the smallest quantity, put some on a hunk of wood or sheetrock and then take it in to a paint store and have them match the actual paint.

    • Re:DRM on FONTS?! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TJamieson (218336) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:49PM (#24784777)

      To be honest, the DRM on fonts is a bit overblown. To create an EOT, you must supply the *beginning* part of the URL to which the font is bound. This is, unfortunately, done with DNS.

      That said, if you created "MyDomain1.com", "MyDomainCool.com", "MyDomainIsBest.com", etc., you would need only to generate an EOT bound to "http://mydomain" and it works on all those domains I listed.

      Now, though I've said these things, I will also say that EOT is terrible, having worked with it off and on for several years. I'm *dying* for true web fonts in CSS to finally take hold.

      One thing many people posting here forget is all the foreign character sets that are not necessarily represented with fonts on an end-user's system. Good luck displaying all of Pashto on an English Win2k machine without (1) fonts installed directly on the machine or (2) web fonts.

  • Doesn't matter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gat0r30y (957941) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:33PM (#24783597) Homepage Journal
    The spec for W3C can say whatever it wants. If the standards body makes a mistake, like blessing useless DRM where it doesn't belong, the rest of the web will kindly ignore the stupid standard. Seriously, IE isn't standards compliant, what would keep Mozilla, Safari, any of the other browsers from simply ignoring this?
    • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Westech (710854) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:42PM (#24783721) Journal

      The spec for W3C can say whatever it wants. If the standards body makes a mistake, like blessing useless DRM where it doesn't belong, the rest of the web will kindly ignore the stupid standard. Seriously, IE isn't standards compliant, what would keep Mozilla, Safari, any of the other browsers from simply ignoring this?

      How about the fact that being standards compliant is one of the main advantages that Mozilla, Safari, and other browsers currently have over IE? IE ignoring W3C standards has significantly weakened the usefulness of the standards. If other browsers are forced to also begin ignoring the standards due to BS like this being adopted then the existence of the standards will become pointless.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Indeed - support for @font-face [webkit.org] is already here in Safari and is being considered for Firefox.

      font-face (not this MS EOT font stuff) is a real boon for web typography - I just wish the W3C had asked some designers/typographers their opinions earlier in the standards process, as currently type on the web is really poor. As for EOT - they tried that years ago, and it didn't take off because of.... DRM. I don't see what they think will be different this time round.

      Here's hoping other browser manufacturers simp

      • by Firehed (942385)

        Designers would certainly love the option (I'm not a designer and I would, as I frequently implement someone else's design and hate the whole thing of slicing images of text in an unsupported font), but I envision font designers throwing a shit-fit. All of those non-standard fonts that you have to drop into place with a png (or sIFR) are, in theory, licensed by the designer, so I do understand where they're coming from.

        Now almost by design, anything closed-source or DRMed on the web is destined to fail, gi

  • by FunkyELF (609131)
    I can't believe that today people think DRM actually works. You make it part of some standard, it is cracked 2 days later, then for decades we still have to deal with it.

    Why not just assume that it will get cracked, then not implement DRM in the first place?
    • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:05PM (#24784059)

      The DRM itself isn't the point. The point is the leverage that DRM provides, when combined with dubious things like the DMCA and the BSA. The point is that this gives MS one more club with which to beat people. "Our unannounced raid on your offices shows that you've used our fonts without authorization. Under the provisions of the DMCA, you are now liable for criminal charges ... or we could instead graciously *license* those fonts to you for the mere sum of US$200K, and forget this ever happened."

      The DRM itself is not the point. It is merely the means to another end.

      Cheers,

  • by burnitdown (1076427) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:43PM (#24783737) Homepage Journal

    If you design a web site, you want it to show up looking roughly the same on most browsers. For simplicity's sake, most people use the standard fonts (and Mac equivalents).

    http://www.ampsoft.net/webdesign-l/WindowsMacFonts.html [ampsoft.net]

    If we're going to be embedding fonts, obviously we want as few boring, cumbersome procedures as possible. Forcing us to regenerate pages to approve font use counts as one of these.

    Microsoft is barking up the wrong tree on this one.

    • If you design a web site, you want it to show up looking roughly the same on most browsers. For simplicity's sake, most people use the standard fonts (and Mac equivalents).

      That's deeply foolish, you know. Users can (and do) set their own style sheets, and they are even more likely to change the size of the fonts in use. Expecting a page to look exactly as someone designed it to be is silly; "web designers" need to get used to the fact (and I've been going on about this on and off since before such a job description existed).

  • Bogus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Relic of the Future (118669) <dales@@@digitalfreaks...org> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:00PM (#24783979)
    Bogus argument. You could make the same claims for images; but the lack of drm in .jpg, .gif, and .png didn't stop anyone from putting images online. Hell, TEXT enjoys copyright protection, and there's all kinds of that, plain as day for anyone to "steal", embeded in every .html file!

    W3C should decline, forcefully. And tell those font designers to deal with the protections on their fonts the same way everyone else deals with protections on their copyright-protected works: when you notice it, sue.

  • by 42forty-two42 (532340) <bdonlan@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:01PM (#24784001) Homepage Journal
    Simply put, Firefox now has enough audience that web designers can't ignore it. Either EOT can be implemented with open-source code in firefox, which means its decryption scheme will be right out there in the open (and firefox can even simply fail to implement the DRM portions) - or it will only work in IE, which means it's unlikely to be used anywhere it matters.
  • If we allow people to use custom fonts, they'll just start using weird fonts for internationalization instead of unicode. They'll lie and claim to be 8859-1, and in the end, we'll just return a web of babel.

  • I've read the EOT spec [w3.org]. The DRM is trivally, hilariously bad:

    This flag indicates that the FontData array and EUDCFotData array (if present) has been encrypted using an XOR algorithm using an XOR key of 0x50 on each byte of the font data. This happens on final data, after compression and subsetting. The font must be decrypted using the XOR key to accesses the font data.

    In addition, whilst it is possible to embed only those glyphs needed, anyone who's using a CMS is realistically going to be embedding all th

    • by Todd Knarr (15451)

      I suspect it's a "You knew it was wrong." feature. It's not intended to stop people from stealing the data so much as to make it impossible for them to claim they didn't know they weren't supposed to. Much like a simple chain-link fence with a locked gate: the lock isn't really stopping anybody, it's trivial to jump/climb over the fence and bypass the lock completely, but there's no way you can do that and claim you didn't realize somebody intended access to be restricted. Same thing here, if your software

  • OpenType.

    Hey Microsoft, "Open", you keep using that word but I don't think it means what you think it means.

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:21PM (#24784331) Homepage Journal

    W3C shouldn't do it, but not merely because DRM is harmful to everyone. There's a deeper reason. They shouldn't do, because it doesn't make sense.

    The whole point of standards is to have a spec that anyone can implement, such that differing implementations of different parts, will interoperate.

    The whole point of DRM is to PREVENT interoperable implementations!

    It's not just dumb to put DRM in a standard; it's a contradiction to put DRM in a standard. If the DRM works, then it's not a standard, and if it's a standard, then the DRM doesn't work.

  • by Mr 44 (180750)

    If this helps get rid of the complete abomination that is SIFR [wikipedia.org], I'm all for it.

    You've got to appreciate the fact that it actually works, but it is such a giant hack...

  • by ewhac (5844) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:23PM (#24784359) Homepage Journal
    HTML is a semantic markup language, not a presentation markup language. Stylesheets allow presentation specification, but the stylesheets were separated from HTML expressly to attempt to preserve HTML's semantic nature.

    Thus, we don't even need to get to the copy protection issue -- the mere idea of binding fonts to an HTML page at all is utterly laughable on its face. It belies a fundamental misunderstanding of what HTML is and the set of problems it's intended to address.

    If image is more important to you than content, then go play with PDF -- that's what it's for -- and leave HTML alone.

    Schwab

  • If W3C doesn't respond to this with a good nice "fuck off"... Well, I don't really think there's another possible scenario in this case, really. W3C agreeing with DRM, which is against just about everything they have been advocating regarding how the web should work is just non-sense... I think MS was probably intending to send this to ECMA or some other dummy standards body.
  • required reading (Score:3, Informative)

    by mlinksva (1755) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @04:54PM (#24784865) Homepage Journal

    See the Wikipedia article and the W3C team comment on the submission

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embedded_OpenType [wikipedia.org]

    http://www.w3.org/Submission/2008/01/Comment [w3.org]

  • Why isn't this an issue with rights-encumbered photos and images on the web?

    You can buy photos today. Some are licensed for a Web audience, some are not. There are technologies to find illegal use of photos out there, and more coming.

    Fonts can be same way - either licensed for a Web audience, or not. It should be trivial to detect those that abuse such licensing, much more so than images.

    So - what is so special about fonts that they require the DRM treatment? Let the free market sort it out. If paying for W

  • by pembo13 (770295) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @05:35PM (#24785525) Homepage
    Just not every time someone wants to see their work.
  • by 42forty-two42 (532340) <bdonlan@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @08:28PM (#24787833) Homepage Journal
    There are two issues here, that slashdot combines, and neither of them are DRM. First, characters not used on the page may be dropped from the font to save space - this isn't DRM, just a bandwidth saving measure. This is why the EOT fonts, if subsetted, must be regenerated if your site changed - while it may be annoying, depending on the implementation, there are no restrictions on the renderer, nor is this a required portion of the spec.

    Second, there are embedding flags (EOT spec, 4.1 [w3.org]). These are essentially a machine-readable copyright and license statement - it is absolutely trivial to manipulate this field. You could do it in a few dozen lines of code in the programming language of your choice, with no need to reverse engineer, drag out keys, whatever.

    In short, nothing to see here. This slashdot article makes a big deal out of absolutely nothing.

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