By Tom Lord
In a brief note we try to summarize our position of strong objections to calls to form an EOT working group in relation to an EOT submission to W3C. We also try to summarize the reasons we would very much like to help EOT-backers achieve their goals, even if their proposal is flawed. Finally, we link to a counter-proposal that exemplifies how to support the goals while rejecting the deeply flawed EOT proposal.
The EOT submission to W3C in effect proposes a standard which would specify that conforming Web browser software:
On its face such a proposal is absurd:
Simply put, a working group formation around the EOT Submission would divide the W3C community, diminish W3C's stature, and fail to achieve a widely adopted Recommendation. It would be a harmful waste of time.
We understand the position of most backers of the Submission to be that they want a representation format for fonts on the web that:
Those are not unreasonable goals. They describe a form of Digital Rights Expression (DRE) as contrasted with Digital Rights Management (DRM).
Digital Rights Mangementment seeks an arrangement whereby users are not free to even attempt to work around controversial legal claims -- claims enforced by software (or in other circumstances hardware). DRM is a very poor idea for many reasons not least that software can not accurately determine when a use of a font is legal or not.
Digital Rights Expression seeks an arrangement where ordinarilly operating software has features that tend to inform users of a font supplier's legal claims during interactions where those claims may tend to to be relevant to what the user is doing. In other words, DRE is simply a mechanism for communicating meta-data between (in this case) a font supplier and a font consumer.
DRM can prevent a user from using resources whose use she is entitled to, imposing legal liabilities on any effort to help the user or effor by the user to help herself.
DRE, on the other hand, simply informs the user of what the font publisher claims are her rights to use the font.
In this interpretation of it, the EOT Submission has reasonable goals in the abstract and is simply flawed in its actual construction. An alternative Submission should be substituted and we turn next to what that might be:
DRE is a special case of a general hypertext pattern -- the ability to include with an embedded resource meta-data describing the conditions of its use. What is called for is a uniform mechanism for representing such meta-data and a simple, user-friendly mechanism for presenting it.
We offer such a proposal separately, although admitedly in a less developed form than the current EOT Submission. We hope that readers will contemplate this alternative before agreeing to the current "scorched Earth" EOT Submission.