A tool that lets you pirate all fonts on any website, instantly.

13

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  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 860
    If you are the largest distributors of commercial digital products and what you distribute (on behalf of your clients, that make money from it) can be downloaded easily for free, it's definately something you should look after.

    Now it's sounding like you've got Google confused with MyFonts (or even Amazon).
    I wasn't saying that this shouldn't be a concern for Google; they shouldn't be facilitating copyright infringment, and they should take a consistent approach rather than only acting on behalf of the music industry and the film industry.
    My point was that mentioning Monotype, Adobe, and Google Fonts in the same breath didn't make sense, because Google Fonts doesn't sell fonts for money, so it isn't threatened with losses from piracy the way the other two are.
    That's a relatively narrow point, and it's largely concerned with ensuring that people make their points clearly, so that the arguments made are correctly understood so that discussion can continue constructively.
  • Lars SchwarzLars Schwarz Posts: 114
    @John Savard There's Google, the company and search engine responsible for search result listings that lead to copyright infringing websites and Google Fonts, the font library.
    By quoting your comment and mentioning "largest distributors of commercial digital products" I was referring to Adobe/MT and didn't confuse Google with MyFonts (or Amazon). 
  • This whole tangent about Google’s (and other tech companies) lack of accountability ties in nicely with the more general shift in treatment of those tech giants, hopefully. I think we are all naively complicit by saying search engines or social media sites are only aggregating “what is out there”. By facilitating access they shape reality, by listing results they enable copyright infringement. If the counter argument is that without their neglect for the privacy and rights of others the quality or accessibility of those services is reduced then so be it.

    When it takes your average Jane or Joe programmer a day to whip up a crawler that can scour the web for use of fonts (legal and illegal) it sure is not an obstacle of technical limitations that is keeping big tech from implementing safeguards. Searching for “free fonts” on Google literally generates ad revenue right there and then from their advertisers, and if the appeal of using their search engine comes from it finding copyrighted material then they are complicit.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 571
    edited March 13
    @Johannes Neumeier Yes, but this isn't anything like a new idea.  Social scientists (especially notably anthropologists, the kind of social scientist that many tech giants employ to help them understand their business) have talked about the "observation effect" for something like 100 years.  I don't really know how old the understanding is because I couldn't quickly find a date but I remember being taught about it in school 30 years ago from a text book that was in it's 4th or 5th addition.  
  • Measuring the legality of font use online changes the legality of font use online? Is that what you are saying? :)
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 571
    edited March 13
    @Johannes Neumeier The classic example in Anthropology is that the simple act of a researcher showing up and saying "I'd like to watch you do things" makes people self conscious and can change everything.

    Imagine you live in a small village and an outsider travels a far distance to sit and watch how your weavers make carpets.  People in that village have always made carpets that way, but suddenly you're asking yourself "is our way of making carpets special?" or "what's special about how we make carpets?" and "Of course it's because we use ink from this one beetle".  BUT the researcher knows you're going to think that way because all people do that so they've been sneaky.  They don't actually give a shit about the carpets, the weavers, or even the beetles.  They are there because they want to see the meal ritual that happens at lunch.  Meanwhile, carpet prices go up because everyone in the village thinks that the beetles must be rare.  Thats the observation effect in action and all social scientists are taught to be cautious of it.  This is why you will sometimes hear about a study in which they told people they were testing one thing and really what they were watching is behavior in the waiting room before the test.  
  • Lars SchwarzLars Schwarz Posts: 114
    Pretty sure there are subscription based piracy sites already, just a matter of time those show up on the 1st Google result page even before fonts dot com or Typekit and such.
  • the simple act of a researcher showing up and saying "I'd like to watch you do things" makes people self conscious and can change everything.
    Indeed. Closer to home: also the reason virtually all readability testing is hopelessly limited to mere legibility.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 571
    @Hrant H. Papazian. you can see the observation effect every day.  If a friend asks you how to tie a knot you suddenly become filled with self doubt.  But to bring this back to the question at hand, the mere fact of providing search results does effect future search results.  
  • @JoyceKetterer Another good example: how a doctor will distract you with smalltalk while they're checking your breathing... Of course once you realize that you have to warn them, for your own good.  :-)  Related:

  • @JoyceKetterer Thanks for elaborating. I understand the observer effect, just not how your comment related mine. What is observed, by who and what is changing and why. So many questions… :)
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 860
    edited March 14
    Related:

    This puts a new perspective on my humorous rejoinder to your comment, in the thread "Brain Sees Words as Pictures", about "the untenability of loosely-spaced capitals being the best for reading"!
    However, I am inclined to believe that your remark to your optometrist, however true it is, was still made in jest. After all, the reason eye charts look like this
    is so that bare legibility can be isolated from other variables.

  • @John Savard But when you're consciously aware of micro difference between the glyphs of a given font, you can take time to analyze a blurry image and guess better. She did laugh, though. Which is more than I usually get.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,107
    edited May 29
    @Stuart Sandler Maybe because certain people believe all fonts should be free... 
    I am only reading this thread months later but - please - let's be clear that when I say "I believe all fonts should be free," I am saying "I believe all fonts should be libre." Which is like a vegan saying "I believe all meals should be vegan", and while some people get agitated by me saying this, I guess they also get agitated by anyone else expressing moral beliefs which they don't agree with. I think it is not very novel or exciting that people can co-exist in this life with different moralities.

    I am not saying "I believe all fonts should be available free of charge with whatever restrictions." Therefore there is little connection between my interest in developing legitimately libre licensed fonts and the availability of unauthorized copies of non-libre fonts in search engines.

    To that point, I have about the same amount of influence over Google Search results as anyone else on this thread.

    I don't think anyone has ever seriously engaged with the Google Fonts about influencing Google Search results; I've discussed it with Stuart obviously, and an Arabic type designer, many years ago, and I've said what Lars has already said here: Google Search has a DMCA process already, and rightsholders should use it. 
  • — Free is the main reason people love Google Fonts. Libre՝ they think is adorable.
    — Believing that all fonts should be libre (or even just free) is a denigration of type's second most important power: branding. (The first one, by far, is reading.)
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 571
    edited May 29
    Sure, @Dave Crossland, in an ideal world there would be no scarcity and everything would be something like libre (mostly free of charge but permit the creator to have some control).  But that's not the world we live in.  Fonts are expensive to make and require expertise that's expensive to obtain.  In the current environment your stance just seems naive to me. I feel similarly about vegans.  Maybe in a place like Japan that has an old vegan food cultural tradition it's accessible but in America only wealthy people can eat vegan and be healthy.
  • @JoyceKetterer It's not naïveté, it's just another job requirement.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,107
    edited May 30
    Sure, @Dave Crossland, in an ideal world there would be 
    Isn't this true of all morals, though?

    And, back to the original topic, some people believe in a morality of restrictive copyrights and others believe in an opposite moral. But in the real world neither works.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 571
    @Dave Crossland I'm a radical pragmatist.  My moral compass points towards achievable goods, not ideals. 
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 860
    I am only reading this thread months later but - please - let's be clear that when I say "I believe all fonts should be free," I am saying "I believe all fonts should be libre." Which is like a vegan saying "I believe all meals should be vegan", and while some people get agitated by me saying this, I guess they also get agitated by anyone else expressing moral beliefs which they don't agree with. I think it is not very novel or exciting that people can co-exist in this life with different moralities.

    I am not saying "I believe all fonts should be available free of charge with whatever restrictions." Therefore there is little connection between my interest in developing legitimately libre licensed fonts and the availability of unauthorized copies of non-libre fonts in search engines.

    You have raised an important distinction.
    Indeed, one can believe that all fonts ought to be made available under an open-source license without condoning font piracy.
    Is this a reasonable position?
    Are people being hurt by some fonts not being available under an open-source license? Here, the availability of a lot of typefaces under open-source licenses, or at least under freeware licenses, from Google Fonts in particular, seems to say no.
    So if restrictive font licenses allow some talented font designers to devote more time and energy into designing better fonts, because they can make a living at it, this would seem to promote the progress of the art, even if it means some people are disappointed because they can't afford the latest highly fashionable font.
    However, the meaning of "should" is flexible enough that even if I largely believe in free enterprise (though I am not doctrinaire in this, also being a bleeding-heart welfare statist as well) I can see at least some merit in your position.
    At the present time, there appears to be no effective and reasonable technical means to use a font as a web font and protect it from piracy. (At least from piracy for use as a font for printing with ink on paper. Using a stolen font as a web font is easy to get caught at.)
    Given that, to avoid hassles all around, I'm inclined to recommend that web page designers, when they're not "using" the default fonts on the computers of people reading their web pages, should only use libre fonts. So, as we transition from paper to the Web, the business model of the proprietary typeface is fading away in relevancy.
    So while I can't really come up with a moral reason why fonts should be free, I can see a practical reason why things are moving in that direction. Currently, it seems that the main role of novel proprietary typefaces is in advertising, That some view that economic activity as less honorable than meeting basic human needs is... at least understandable. (Myself, I view the production of luxuries as an honorable and reasonable economic activity as well, but this sympathy on my part is less if the luxury in question seems to be lacking in practical utility. So where advertising is about giving something a hype or mystique to increase its apparent value, I, too, am jaundiced.)
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,107
    edited May 31
    @Dave Crossland I'm a radical pragmatist.  My moral compass points towards achievable goods, not ideals. 
    The fundamental problem I have with that, is that what is achievable is impossible to predict.

    Certainly what I and others have achieved already, in terms of advancing the software user freedom movement in the field of typography, was considered outlandishly impossible when I started in 2005. We'll see what happens in the next 15 years; perhaps diminishing returns on energy invested... 

    I see there are countervailing or even paradoxical forces that delay or preclude the complete revolution of all moral precepts, aside from the fact different people have different and conflicting moralities; but I don't think we ought to give up working on what we each think is good. 
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,107
    John Savard said:

    while I can't really come up with a moral reason why fonts should be free
    I am curious if you can describe the differences between free (gratis), free (libre); and the moral basis of the software user freedom movement vs the amoral basis of the open source movement. 

    These differences are well explained across the web (gnu.org/philosophy has some good stuff, and in my MATD dissertation I tried to essay the topic as best I could at the time), and they seem to be mixed up in your thoughtful post. 
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 860
    I am curious if you can describe the differences between free (gratis), free (libre); and the moral basis of the software user freedom movement vs the amoral basis of the open source movement.

    Probably not, as I look at this from a very different moral perspective. In my view, basically a person's labor belongs to that person. So there is no obligation to make the fruits of that labor available cheaply to others.
    Acts of charity are meritorious, but they are not obligatory.
    That being said, I am not a Libertarian or anarcho-capitalist. I believe that we live in a world where it is a practical necessity for democratic governments to have the power of taxation, and I also believe that it is legitimate to use this power for purposes of social welfare in addition to national defense.
    The availability of open-source software benefits us all, so it is a good thing. But while I applaud it as beneficial, any claim that those creators who do not participate in that are doing something wrong is, I am afraid, welll-nigh unintelligible to me.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,107
    The idea isn't that there's an obligation, just the opposite: if you have a choice to do something harmful or do nothing, it is better to do nothing. 
  • "Doing nothing is doing something different."
    — College Board Computer Science Seminar
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 860
    The idea isn't that there's an obligation, just the opposite: if you have a choice to do something harmful or do nothing, it is better to do nothing. 

    I'm afraid this didn't help to convince me, or give me new understanding.
    If someone designs a typeface, and believes it is so good that it is worth paying for, and also needs the money - which is a plausible scenario - even if offering it for sale under a restrictive license is less helpful than giving it away free, I cannot see it as being harmful.
    No aggression is committed, no one's rights are violated; everyone remains perfectly free to ignore his font products, and confine themselves to using those fonts that are free.
    So if it turns out that his fonts are worth money to some people, and so he can derive an income from his activities, why should I not approve of it, particularly as copyrights, patents, design rights and so on are not eternal, and so the free sphere is still going to be ultimately enriched, even though with a delay?
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,134
    edited June 1
    John, I actually agree with you on the less helpful vs harmful part.

    And it is worth noting that there is at least some fuzziness on where/whether copyright applies to fonts. The US Copyright Office’s recent wavering on the question is interesting, to say the least.

    BUT....

    First, trademarks can be eternal, if maintained.

    And copyrights are so long that they are most of the way to eternal, in terms of the value involved, under almost any reasonable interest/discount rate one might apply to the question. Life of the author plus 70 years in many jurisdictions (USA, EU).

    Consider that with digital works and transformations, the version of the work on which copyright would lapse would be an antique. Do you really think anybody will be super excited to suddenly be able to use an old PostScript Type 1 version of Avant Garde with 228 glyphs, some time around the year 2080 (or whatever it is)? Even if they are allowed to freely auto-convert it to other formats?

    Yes, the free sphere can make use of things once the design rights are expired. But the sum of these barriers is non-trivial. One might do a Bank Gothic revival, but have to use a different name, and start by scanning printed type samples from a hundred years ago….
  • I’m a little confused by what the debate actually is, because the discussion of “free” versus “open source” (here, for example) seems to center on some idea that they are nearly the same thing in practical matters (e.g. the license for either allows roughly the same thing), but that each term conveys some different spirit or ethical intent.

    What I mean is, someone could say “You and I are talking about the same thing, but I call it ‘free’ and you call it ‘open source’ — and because you use that term, you have the wrong value system.” What @Dave Crossland” calls an “amoral basis.”

    Is that the core of this debate, or do I misunderstand?
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 860
    edited June 2
    And copyrights are so long that they are most of the way to eternal, in terms of the value involved, under almost any reasonable interest/discount rate one might apply to the question. Life of the author plus 70 years in many jurisdictions (USA, EU).

    Yes, trademarks are eternal. I thought it was clear, and not just in the United States, that while copyrights apply to font programs, they don't apply to type designs, so I didn't think too much of their terms.
    @Christopher Slye I'm not at all sure, but I know that the term "open source" is broad. While people normally think of the GNU General Public License when they're thinking of open-source software, there is the less restrictive MIT license on the one hand - and the much more restrictive (yet still open-source) Q license, which is the one under which Hercules is distributed.
    The Q license lets people distribute modifications to Hercules with Hercules... but it does not let anyone fork Hercules. So it's missing an important component of 'libre'.
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