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

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  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,106
    edited June 2
    @Christopher Slye the point here as I see it is that @John Savard has said "I can't really come up with a moral reason why fonts should be free". 

    That moral reason is indeed the (fine) distinction between the libre and open source movements.

    John seems to not be saying "I don't agree with that morality," he's saying "there is no such morality," so I seek to point out where he can read about it, rather than explain it myself in an improvised original manner. Nevertheless, I will try to do so as briefly as possible in my next post ;)
  • Any absolutism is immoral. (Even that one, which is why it's crucial to be at peace with the impossibility of perfection.)
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,106
    edited June 2

    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.
    Are vegans harmed by people farming-processing-serving-eating/wearing animals?

    I think so; there's a sort of social stain. It is a bit like environmental pollution, that you can choose to move away from locally, but regional or even global pollution effects us all inescapably. 

    Similarly, the moral idea that your computer is your property, and you ought to have the same freedoms for all the software on your computer as if you had written that software yourself, is fettered by solicitations or in some cases coercion to use software that tramples those freedoms.

    Its a fairly basic moral principle: One should not go subjugating others, nor support subjugation wrought by others. 
  • There is no more basic moral principle than that freedoms are shared and balanced, versus being the purview of Individualism, which is what's destroying the planet.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 844
    Similarly, the moral idea that your computer is your property, and you ought to have the same freedoms for all the software on your computer as if you had written that software yourself, is fettered by solicitations or in some cases coercion to use software that tramples those freedoms.

    Its a fairly basic moral principle: One should not subjugating others, nor support the subjugation of others. 

    It seems I had misunderstood you, because indeed this is a moral viewpoint I very much can relate to, even if it doesn't lead me to quite the same conclusions.
    I don't own a Mac, partly because I don't wish to be subjugated, but also because I don't wish to support the even worse subjugation of the poor souls who own iPhones.
    If only Linux were a reasonable alternative on the desktop for my needs, so that I could escape the somewhat lighter yoke of Windows.
    But while I am willing to use language like "subjugation" to describe what some operating systems are doing to users, I don't see individual non-free applications as engaging in that, or having that effect. Although I suppose there is potential for them to do so.
    There is, though, another problem... of language?... here. I hesitate to describe what even Apple is doing as "wrong", because actions that are not moral and harm others are actions that it is licit for the government to use the force of the law to prohibit. Instead, I'd phrase it as Apple doing things that are "unfortunate" but within its rights (or, rather, the rights of its stockholders which have been vested in it).
    I wish to avoid being subjugated myself, but I don't wish to take the risk of enslaving others in the pursuit of that end. But I do recognize that market power can lead to injustices which it is legitimate for the government to correct.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,106
    edited June 2
    Well, this is why I talk about veganism rather than say, murder. 

    Murder can be state sanctioned, not only as capital punishment or within formal war contexts, but, generally and widely, state governments to use the force of the law to prohibit it. Software user freedom isn't really in that ballgame. 

    But generally most societies see people are within their rights to consume animal foods/products and don't legislate against it. Maybe some exceptions, here and there, I heard about recent lynchings over beef. 

    But, illustrative allegories aside, the core idea of the software user freedom movement is that any program that can be upgraded raises a social question about who can make the upgrades; if you can't make your own upgrades, you are missing something important.

    This idea is that it is important that software licenses respect users' freedoms, such that users and developers of the software have equality, regardless of that software being the overall "operating system shell," or "user land" applications, or low level device drivers.

    Typefaces are not programs, although fonts can contain programs (like hinting instructions or layout rules); and, rarely, some fonts are drawn by programs, but most glyphs are vector graphics data, not programs. Yet they are functional, such that you can say "this typeface is broken for what I am trying to use it for, I want to upgrade it." (Which you can't say of artworks - for them, we only say "I (don't) like it." Artworks aren't found broken.)

    And so, typefaces raise the same social question as programs. 
  • The main difference with font software as compared to other software applications is that the compiled file is still usable as a source file. I can open an OTF in my font editor of choice, make some changes (add a feature, add a glyph, make some outline wider, add a missing Unicode coding, etc.) and export it again to a usable OTF. If done carefully, this keeps all of the original attributes of the font with only the intended changed differing from the original file. As such, you do not need the original source files and production tooling used to make the original OTF (although that would be nice to have).

    Fonts can be commercial and restricted in their distribution while still allowing license holders to make custom adjustments. Many font licenses that restrict distribution also prohibit modifying font software, so the two are often treated as the same issue. I think these are two issues. I feel like your arguments only apply if font software may not be decompiled/modified/etc. as per the license agreement.
  • Just ran into this breathtaking paradox:


    As you were.
  • edited June 6
    Back on the main subject here — I don't think the existence of this tool really changes the calculus for commercial font people. Most people don't think of getting anything beyond what default fonts they have, of course, but those who really are determined to get fonts — and without paying — can get them much more easily, as has been pointed out, by just going to one of the many unlicensed font sites and downloading an OTF directly — even if illicit, a more pleasant experience than downloading a WOFF using a relatively obscure tool, and then trying to figure out how to convert a WOFF into an OTF so they can actually use it with the vast majority of programs, and only after that maybe realizing perhaps that the WOFF is only a subset of the full font, or that they need OpenType features they don't have, or something along those lines. A user motivated enough to go through that process certainly could have just found the OTF during that whole time.
    As for DRM — I guess it depends how far you want to take it. Personally, I find DRM abhorrent — really, it only makes life worse for the legitimate user, and there's pretty much always a way around it. Even the EOT encryption method John described earlier is not actually a DRM scheme. And this of course ignores the fact that fonts are embedded in PDFs, etc., etc. (Yes, you can DRM PDFs, but that protection scheme — which is designed to protect the contents of the document, rather than the fonts, but which also holds them hostage entirely incidentally — has long been broken, not to mention the fact that it barely worked with any PDF readers.)
    ***
    On the subject of free/libre fonts: I've long been a supporter myself, for some of the same reasons Google Fonts supports the ideal: because I'd like to make typography better — I began as a student TeXing my papers and wanting some fonts that looked nice for when I did so. But wanting all fonts to be released as free is not the same as wanting to circumvent measures in order to actually use all of them myself.
    Still, I think there has been some massive overestimation on the part of some regarding the benefits of copyright (both for fonts and for other things). Of course, one glorious thing about font designs is that they generally can't be copyrighted (although they can be granted design patents, these don't last nearly as long). I am sure there are some people out there who would want our children and our children's children and our children's children's children paying $800,000 a year to some conglomerate to license the webfont of Avant Garde, but — and call me a bad person or a font thief all you'd like — I am happy to use URW Gothic, a PostScript-compatible clone, instead. Of course, since its design patent has now expired (just within the last few years), it would be perfectly licit to clone Minion (as long as you don't use any of Adobe's vectors). It so happens that we haven't chosen to do so, as a matter of appropriateness,* but if in 75 years Minion (the typeface design, not the trademark or Adobe's version, and I don't even mean the new version, but the classic design itself) does not become part of the common heritage of typography (more or less), and get open-source clones, I would be disappointed. While it's not strictly defined by a legal boundary, I think we need to remember that just as we copy the works of great masters of the past, one day today's masters will be past masters, too. (So, yes, I am against perpetual copyright — and all work must one day go back to everyone, as a sort of cultural dust to dust.)
    Of course, this is just my opinion. And it's mostly tangential from the original subject.

    [*] And I actually agree that it is not very appropriate to clone yet, and I respect Slimbach's work on this design immensely. I mention it because (1) it obviously a great typeface of our era, (2) it was actually patented and (3) it was born in the digital era. But the design patent HAS expired — the invention which was protected by the patent has now legally passed into the public domain.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 844
    Identifont seems to think that Crimson Text, on Google Fonts, resembles Minion. The first web site I went to that claimed to identify free substitutes for Minion showed me, as Minion, a font that resembled Walbaum more than anything else. Since Minion is actually a garalde, however, surely there are already many free Garamonds out there, and no one really will need to clone Minion specifically.
    Actually, it is primarily because of this fact that I would agree it's not really appropriate to imitate Minion now, even if it is superior to other Garamond-alikes. If it were highly unique and distinctive, and was also very fashionable, I would find cloning to be understandable in addition to being inevitable. But if one might as well clone Sabon or Granjon for a more exclusive take on Garamond... then cloning Minion seems gratuitous.
  • One might want a cheap/free Minion clone to stay close to a style guide requiring Minion, similar to how for example I have seen Fira Sans being used when Meta was required by the style guide. Minion is also such a ubiquitous typeface that extensions for specialized uses have been designed (e.g. Minion Math for mathematical typesetting). Minion Math + a Minion clone is cheaper than Minion Math + Minion; I could see this also being a reason for cloning a typeface such as Minion.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,095
    Identifont seems to think that Crimson Text, on Google Fonts, resembles Minion. The first web site I went to that claimed to identify free substitutes for Minion showed me, as Minion, a font that resembled Walbaum more than anything else. Since Minion is actually a garalde, however, surely there are already many free Garamonds out there, and no one really will need to clone Minion specifically.
    Actually, it is primarily because of this fact that I would agree it's not really appropriate to imitate Minion now, even if it is superior to other Garamond-alikes. If it were highly unique and distinctive, and was also very fashionable, I would find cloning to be understandable in addition to being inevitable. But if one might as well clone Sabon or Granjon for a more exclusive take on Garamond... then cloning Minion seems gratuitous.
    Crimson Text is at least a garalde, and although certainly no clone or lookalike, it resembles Minion enough if one wants a vaguely-similar typeface.

    However, for a drop-in replacement, what one really needs is not visual similarity (or at least, not only that) but metrics compatibility.

    Regarding Minion Math, instead of being an argument for cloning Minion, isn’t this equally well an argument for making another math typeface as good as Minion Math, but is a companion to Crimson Text (or some other open-source typeface)?

    Of course, maybe the unspoken part of this… is that Minion is so damn popular because it is well-done, and it is just better than any libre garalde typeface currently available, and that is a big part of what makes creating a libre imitation of Minion an attractive idea for some people?
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 844
    edited June 8
    Of course, maybe the unspoken part of this… is that Minion is so damn popular because it is well-done, and it is just better than any libre garalde typeface currently available, and that is a big part of what makes creating a libre imitation of Minion an attractive idea for some people?

    If that's why an imitation of Minion is desired, trying to create one is a waste of effort, because that's an attribute a second-rate imitation will never have.
    The reason to imitate an existing commercial typeface is basically: Oh! This is a Garalde with slab-serifs, and they're all the rage this year! A second-rate imitation can get that far.
    As for metrics compatibility, if Microsoft can commission a version of Monotype Grotesque with the same metrics as Helvetica, then I'm sure someone can do a version of Caslon or Baskerville with the same metrics as Minion.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 844
    edited June 8
    On the Google Fonts page for Crimson Text, it is stated that "Crimson Text is inspired by the fantastic work of people like Jan Tschichold, Robert Slimbach and Jonathan Hoefler." Perhaps that's why it was thought of as something that resembles Robert Slimbach's Minion.
    However, when I saw the type samples on that page, I was reminded very much of another well-known typeface, but one that is not due to any of those three type designers.
    It looked for all the world an awful lot like Eric Gill's Perpetua to me, which I had never realized was a Garalde.
    However, upon checking, it isn't really all that much like Perpetua, my memory was just faulty.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 844
    I thought I would poke around to learn some more about garaldes. And I did learn a few things.
    After Minion, Robert Sllimbach also designed Garamond Premier for Adobe, and it won several awards, but it did not eclipse Minion. Presumably, that's because Garamond Premier was more authentic, while Minion was designed from the ground up, even with inspiration from Garamond, for the needs of today.
    Also, for some reason, instead of Sarabande just being the name of a typeface based on the work of Jean Jannon, somehow Sarabande is given as one of its designers. Since a modernized version is called Pavane, and both names are forms of music, somehow I doubt that.
  • edited June 9
    Of course, maybe the unspoken part of this… is that Minion is so damn popular because it is well-done, and it is just better than any libre garalde typeface currently available, and that is a big part of what makes creating a libre imitation of Minion an attractive idea for some people?

    If that's why an imitation of Minion is desired, trying to create one is a waste of effort, because that's an attribute a second-rate imitation will never have.
    The reason to imitate an existing commercial typeface is basically: Oh! This is a Garalde with slab-serifs, and they're all the rage this year! A second-rate imitation can get that far.
    As for metrics compatibility, if Microsoft can commission a version of Monotype Grotesque with the same metrics as Helvetica, then I'm sure someone can do a version of Caslon or Baskerville with the same metrics as Minion.

    Well, not really. It's much different cloning a font than it is designing a new one. And when I'm talking about a "clone", I mean a clone like in the same sense the URW PostScript fonts are clones of the Adobe ones. In making such a clone, you don't want just a font that reminds you of Minion (Crimson is good enough to do this, even though there are some obvious differences between the two). You need in this case a font that is a drop-in replacement for the original. And such a font is a bit easier to make than a new one altogether. Because what you're doing is more of an engineering task than it is drawing a new artistic design.
    First, you need to copy all the relevant characters from the Minion design. You aren't going to be allowed to copy the curves and control points directly from the original, but, given a digital source, it's not so hard to draw the characters from the images. After all, there are no rough edges. It's not even the highest-quality source possible, but the actual design patent is a specimen sheet of all the formerly protected characters: https://patents.google.com/patent/USD497175S1/en. That's all certifiably in the public domain. Then, once you've copied all that, you would just need to make sure all the metrics (never protected by copyrights) were the same, and, ta-da, there's your new font. Much easier than thinking about how to remind people of Minion.
    (Still, if you actually cared about the quality of your work, this would still take you a few weeks to a few months. But at the end, the result would be more or less just like the original.)
    [Edit] As for why people might want a libre Minion, I think I have an idea why. Often, we in the free typesetting world --- myself included --- may want to imitate the "look and feel" of professional publishers. A number of designs commonly used professionally — e.g.., Times and Palatino — have libre versions already in wide use (see my "STEP" and "Domitian" packages, for example, which are themselves extensions of STIX and URW Palladio, which are clones of Times and Palatino as found in PostScript). And that has been useful not only as a clone qua clone, but also in developing extensions (GFS Heraklit is a Greek face developed from Domitian). Right now, there is no libre clone of Minion like there is of Times and Palatino.
  • Minion has long been the default typeface for InDesign, and built into the app — so at least in this case, a lot of people have it available without seeking a free alternative.
  • Minion has long been the default typeface for InDesign, and built into the app — so at least in this case, a lot of people have it available without seeking a free alternative.
    But that's not a free font. That's just a font that someone has already paid for. And it's still not a libre font — yes, you can get Minion with an Adobe program license, but that doesn't mean you have the right to modify it, or to redistribute your modified version ("free" as in libre as opposed to gratis).
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,106
    Amusingly iirc the old Adobe Type license allowed modified versions that counted as concurrent copies, and granted like 5 of them. So if you only had one machine, you could make up to 4 different modified copies to keep to yourself. 

    So, not libre by any means, but a lot less restrictive than many retail licenses.

    But I'm not sure if that's changed in about 15 years
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,095
    edited June 13
    The main difference is that the Adobe Fonts (former Typekit) rental license does not allow modifications, last time I checked. So as most users of Adobe fonts these days use Adobe Fonts rental for their Adobe font needs, they are not getting modification rights.

    If they license the fonts permanently, from FontSpring or what-have-you, then they can still get modification rights.

    (At least, last time I read up on this. Read the license for full info!)
  • If they license the fonts permanently, from FontSpring or what-have-you, then they can still get modification rights.
    Whew.

    As Dave says, although that's not libre it's still way more than virtually any foundry today allows. Gollum would feel right at home.
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