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Old 09-15-2009, 11:12 AM   #1
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Source of fonts for embedding in free ePubs

ePubs can have fonts embedded, but finding a legitimate source of such fonts is hard - most font foundaries forbid embedding in ebooks without additional fees. www.fontmarketplace.com seems to be different, at least for ePubs that are distributed for free. Here's the first paragraph of their font licence:

Quote:
Permitted Uses
You are permitted to install the font onto the number of personal computers for which you have purchased licenses. You can use the fonts to create and design documents, and embed the fonts into documents such as PDF files. Files with embedded fonts can be freely distributed and posted on websites as long as they are not sold (what we refer to as "Commercial Documents").
Also, their fonts are inexpensive. A single face is often $5, and a family of four faces $18. This is because they are only licensing the font for use on one computer. But if you're working on your own - that's all you want!

I have contacted them to enquire about commercial product licences too. I'll post once I have a reply.

Font Marketplace seems to be a website run by Ascender Fonts, which seems to be a legitimate font foundary. (& also sells through their eponymous web site at much higher prices and the usual "five computers and one printer with storage".)
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Old 09-15-2009, 11:31 AM   #2
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It's interesting that this came up today -- I was just prowling around their website yesterday and looking longingly at a couple of fonts from Ray Larabie. I have a couple of his freeware/shareware (can't remember which they were) that I use for scrapbooking. I hadn't gotten into fonts for eBooks yet, but I find the idea intriguing because it would allow a book to have a mixture of fonts and would give the book producer some of the options that have previously only been available when you were working with books for print or PDF.
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Old 09-15-2009, 01:13 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Elsi View Post
I hadn't gotten into fonts for eBooks yet, but I find the idea intriguing because it would allow a book to have a mixture of fonts and would give the book producer some of the options that have previously only been available when you were working with books for print or PDF.
There's some debate about whether to include fonts in ePubs, or whether they should be left up to the reading software/reader.

I favour adding in fonts if possible. I'm hopeful that soon even the big foundaries will become aware of the possibilities for sales that ePub/OEB ebooks represent.

For display fonts (chapter titles, drop caps, etc) I think there's no argument - obviously embedded fonts in ePub should be used.

For the body copy it's not so obvious. I rather like choosing my own font when reading ebook, although current ePub readers don't permit it.

I'm going to be aiming at a half-way house. For the body font, I'll only specify it on the "body" element in my CSS. That way it will be easy to for reader software to override by adding the !important flag to the user CSS style for the "body" element.
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Old 09-15-2009, 01:25 PM   #4
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$5 or $10 may not sound like much, but since there are a few free license fonts already out there, isn't it better to stick with those?

Between Droid, Fontin, Gentium, Charis SIL, DejaVu, the Red Hat Liberation Fonts, OpenSymbol, FreeSerif/FreeSans, Linux Libertine, etc., is there really much left to be desired for ePub embedding?

There's a bunch more at sites like Open Font library -- though that's got a terrible front end. Another smaller list here -- I could have sworn I had found another better listing site... can't find it now...
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Old 09-15-2009, 01:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frabjous View Post
$5 or $10 may not sound like much, but since there are a few free license fonts already out there, isn't it better to stick with those?
If there's a free font that meets your needs, by all means use it. I certainly would. But there's no free version (yet?) of the fabulous original Baskerville Italic, that is used in the book I'm working on at the moment.

The right choice of font can really add something to a book. And now that we have the capability, it's a shame not to use it if possible.
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Old 09-15-2009, 02:25 PM   #6
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Be careful with this. The licence permits fonts to be embedded. Fonts in ePub files are not embedded, as they are with the PDF file, but are simply contained in the ePub ZIP file, from where they can simply be copied by the user and installed on their own system. The point about an embedded font is that it becomes a part of the document, and cannot be "unpacked" and re-used by the document viewer.

I honestly don't think the licence you've quoted is valid for ePub usage.
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Old 09-15-2009, 02:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Be careful with this. The licence permits fonts to be embedded. Fonts in ePub files are not embedded, as they are with the PDF file, but are simply contained in the ePub ZIP file, from where they can simply be copied by the user and installed on their own system. The point about an embedded font is that it becomes a part of the document, and cannot be "unpacked" and re-used by the document viewer.

I honestly don't think the licence you've quoted is valid for ePub usage.
What he said. To include fonts with ePubs, you'd essentially need a redistribution license. Or a license that specifically allows you to use them in ePubs.
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Old 09-15-2009, 02:47 PM   #8
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It says "files with embedded fonts", not "embedded subset", or "embedded in an unembeddable way" or anything more restrictive.

I actually think that you're probably safe using these fonts in ePubs for the time being, though I'd put a copy of the font license inside the ePub (not linked to the spine, and so invisible to anyone except those who extract the files from the ePub).

It might helped if someone actually asked them, however. Maybe they would clarify.
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Old 09-15-2009, 03:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frabjous View Post
It says "files with embedded fonts", not "embedded subset", or "embedded in an unembeddable way" or anything more restrictive.

I actually think that you're probably safe using these fonts in ePubs for the time being, though I'd put a copy of the font license inside the ePub (not linked to the spine, and so invisible to anyone except those who extract the files from the ePub).

It might helped if someone actually asked them, however. Maybe they would clarify.
I absolutely disagree with your assessment, and I've handled a fair number of software and font licensing contracts in the past. Considering the most common way of including the fonts with an ePub is to simply throw the font files into the zipped ePub package (where they can incredibly easily be removed and copied/used elsewhere), I'm almost certain that Ascender could nail you with the "further distributed" part of this clause:
Quote:
Prohibited Uses
The font files cannot be modified, posted to websites or further distributed without an extended license.
Not to mention, the standard EULA that they list on their site specifically mentions that the font can be used on one (1) personal computer (of which an ebook reader would be considered a personal computer). So unless pdurrant is ready to pay the font license fees for every single copy of his book that's downloaded (even if he's giving the book away—basically he'd be buying a copy of the font for each person who reads his book), he would need to look into one of the other licensing options.

To put it simply, I don't think any of the major font foundries (possibly barring Adobe) even have provisions in any of their standard licenses that take something like ePubs into account.
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Old 09-15-2009, 03:19 PM   #10
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The IPDF have defined a way of encrypting the fonts in an ePUB, so that they can't be trivially extracted and reused. I should have mentioned this in my post to avoid confusion.

See "Font Embedding for Open Container Format Files"

http://www.openebook.org/doc_library...glingSpec.html

I agree that the licence probably wouldn't cover just including the bare font in the ePub archive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Be careful with this. The licence permits fonts to be embedded. Fonts in ePub files are not embedded, as they are with the PDF file, but are simply contained in the ePub ZIP file, from where they can simply be copied by the user and installed on their own system. The point about an embedded font is that it becomes a part of the document, and cannot be "unpacked" and re-used by the document viewer.

I honestly don't think the licence you've quoted is valid for ePub usage.
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Old 09-15-2009, 03:33 PM   #11
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I disagree here. The one computer requirement is clearly for the bare font being installed for general use, not use as an embedded font.

The licence is pleasingly straightforward and seems pretty plain to me:

"You can [...] embed the fonts into documents [...]. Files with embedded fonts can be freely distributed and posted on websites as long as they are not sold"

The only possible point of disagreement would be whether they consider fonts in ePubs to be embedded if the IDPF method is used.

I've written to them to find out.

Quote:
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Not to mention, the standard EULA that they list on their site specifically mentions that the font can be used on one (1) personal computer (of which an ebook reader would be considered a personal computer).
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Old 09-15-2009, 05:12 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Abecedary View Post
I absolutely disagree with your assessment, and I've handled a fair number of software and font licensing contracts in the past. Considering the most common way of including the fonts with an ePub is to simply throw the font files into the zipped ePub package (where they can incredibly easily be removed and copied/used elsewhere), I'm almost certain that Ascender could nail you with the "further distributed" part of this clause:
I was going by the wording of what pdurrant posted. I didn't look at the details their website, but I cannot imagine that any legal action filed against someone who distributed one of their files inside an ePub, citing that langauge, whether encrypted or not, for the purpose of its being displayed in that book, could possibly hold any water at all unless they reworded what they wrote, or explicitly asked the person not to do so. If someone did extract it from the ePub and use it in an unintended way, when the license is right there for them to see, that would be an act of wrongdoing on that person's part, not on the ePub maker.

Of course, if they clarify their language, things can change.

That's my interpretation. I'm no legal expert, but if any legal system in which this is not true is not a legal system that has any rhyme or reason to it whatever. I realize that people who do give legal counsel have to err far on the side of caution, but there's also such a thing as standards of reasonableness. With that language, it strongly suggests font embedding is allowed, and no provision is made for how it is embedded.

Still, I'm not saying I would do it personally; probably only I would if encrypted. It's good that pdurrant is asking. Hopefully they'll clarify it.

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Old 09-15-2009, 05:23 PM   #13
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Does the license define anywhere what "embedded" is supposed to mean in that context? If it doesn't we should abide by what we understand with "embedded", and for me "embedded" does not mean unextratable/unusable, but I'm not a lawyer, not even a native English speaker

By the way the IDPF "specification" cited above is not exactly for encryption, but obfuscation. That results in font files that are not trivially extractable and usable from the .epub file, but any user interested in doing it can do it (as reading software should). I don't know if there is any software (other than maybe ADE) that supports this method.
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frabjous View Post
I was going by the wording of what pdurrant posted. I didn't look at the details their website, but I cannot imagine that any legal action filed against someone who distributed one of their files inside an ePub, citing that langauge, whether encrypted or not, for the purpose of its being displayed in that book, could possibly hold any water at all unless they reworded what they wrote, or explicitly asked the person not to do so. If someone did extract it from the ePub and use it in an unintended way, when the license is right there for them to see, that would be an act of wrongdoing on that person's part, not on the ePub maker.

Of course, if they clarify their language, things can change.

That's my interpretation. I'm no legal expert, but if any legal system in which this is not true is not a legal system that has any rhyme or reason to it whatever. I realize that people who do give legal counsel have to err far on the side of caution, but there's also such a thing as standards of reasonableness. With that language, it strongly suggests font embedding is allowed, and no provision is made for how it is embedded.

Still, I'm not saying I would do it personally; probably only I would if encrypted. It's good that pdurrant is asking. Hopefully they'll clarify it.
Font embedding in a technology context is widely understood to be a procedure that makes it difficult or impossible to recreate the source .ttf / .otf / .pbf file of the font.

I'm guessing even if you have a font 100% embedded into a PDF document, what is 100% embedded are the glyph shapes, but not necessarily 100% of the kerning, glyph combination logic, et cetera.

In my mind simply putting a font inside the ePub's zip container is unambiguously distribution instead and not embedding. The arguably "embedding" method, while on the surface better fitting the definition I stated, is apparently an utterly minimal obfuscation that (with the right program) would be trivial to undo and thereby gain the original .ttf / .otf / .pbf file.

And while you might argue that "hackability" should not be a consideration for whether or not something is properly embedding... I don't believe there exists or could exist any software tools that take a 100% embedded font from a PDF document and produce therefrom a font file that is byte-by-byte equivalent to the original. That, however, is I believe is still eminently possible with ePub's "encrypted" embedding.

Let anyone liberally correct me on anything I am mistaken about.

- Ahi

P.s.: While I am not able to readily point to a definition... the notion that fonts have different licenses for embedding and redistribution itself makes it pretty clear that they view embedding as being functionally fundamentally different from distribution. And in my opinion, any process that allows somebody to get a CRC-correct copy of the font you embedded is definitely distribution... however unintentional it may be.

Last edited by ahi; 09-16-2009 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 09-17-2009, 12:31 AM   #15
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I certainly understand the technical difference involved, but not everyone who might use them in this way (especially with helper software) would.

If they're going to advertise the sales of these fonts with the claim that they allow embedding in documents, and not clarify exactly what they mean, it's certainly would fall under fair use for someone to include them in an ePub. What the word "embedding" suggests to someone who understands the technical details doesn't seem like the important thing, but rather what it would suggest to any arbitrary customer. It's false advertising otherwise.

Including in an ePub may be technically more like distributing, but it's conceptually more like embedding, and I think, without further clarification or detailed wording, that's what would be more important legally.
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