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FONT RECOGNITION VIA FONT MOOSE

LUC DEVROYE


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Unintended Consequences: Seven Years under the DMCA

This document collects a number of reported cases where the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA have been invoked not against pirates, but against consumers, scientists, and legitimate competitors. Among the many scary examples of abuse due to the DMCA, we find this: In January 2002, typeface vendor Agfa Monotype Corporation threatened a college student with DMCA liability for creating "embed," a free, open source, noncommercial software program designed to manipulate TrueType fonts. According to the student: "I wrote embed in 1997, after discovering that all of my fonts disallowed embedding in documents. Since my fonts are free, this was silly-but I didn't want to take the time to... change the flag, and then reset all of the extended font properties with a separate program. What a bore! Instead, I wrote this program to convert all of my fonts at once. The program is very simple; it just requires setting a few bits to zero. Indeed, I noticed that other fonts that were licensed for unlimited distribution also disallowed embedding.... So, I put this program on the web in hopes that it would help other font developers as well." Agfa Monotype nevertheless threatened the student author with DMCA liability for distributing the program. According to Agfa, the fact that embed can be used to allow distribution of protected fonts makes it contraband under Section 1201, notwithstanding the fact that the tool has many legitimate uses in the hands of hobbyist font developers. That Agfa letter from the offices of Stack and Filpi is here. The whole story.

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Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html