The Web Font Issue

by Tom Lord

This site aims to counter the bogus promotion of DRM font formats for the web. The proponents of these formats hope that they will become W3C standards, and this should be opposed strongly.

On the 18th of March, 2008, Microsoft submitted some specifications and a request to the World Wide Web Consortium: the Embedded OpenType (.EOT) Font Format Submission Request to W3C.

The proposal represents a consensus among several major providers of restrictively licensed fonts. The proposal includes technical requirements that would demand browsers and other web "user agents" help to enforce the licenses of these fonts by refusing to render using a font if it appears the user lacks legal permission to use the font.

Those technical requirements are highly controversial among browser implementors. The requirements are dangerous and unacceptable from the perspective of the free software movement. Ironically, a careful study of the stated goals of the backers of the EOT proposal suggests that they ought to be quite happy with an alternative solution that lacks those objectionable technical requirements.

I've been doing some work to help analyze the issues at hand to begin to construct and convey arguments about what makes the EOT proposal objectionable, and what would be better for everyone instead. Here are some documents that arise from that effort.

You may also be interested to read HÃ¥kon Wium Li's presentation at ATypI 2008.