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Subject: Re: font collections
From: Michael Brady <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Tue, 27 Aug 1996 11:40:40 +0000

text/plain (54 lines)


> It is, however, worth pointing out that anti-competitive and
> monopolistic practices are the bane of any industry - and of
> economies in general. Not that I'm accusing Adobe (or even Microsoft)
> of such things... but the way the computer software business has
> developed has brought about 'accidental' monopolies.
> PostScript is an interesting case in point. Without diminishing
> Messrs Warnock and Geshke's achievement, or Adobe's right to profit
> from it... when something like a computer language has become *both*
> an industry standard and a proprietary product, there is a problem.


> public domain. Perhaps there is a point at which a technology becomes
> too important for too many people for it to be right for it to remain
> private property? Maybe Windows and PostScript have both got there,
> and beyond?

Who decides when a technology has become "too important ... for it to
remain private property"? (If that is so, for one thing, AZT and
Clozapine would be a lot cheaper. But that is only a self-serving
argument for me to make.) As much as I dislike monopolies, I dislike
even more the idea that someone (the central government, I suppose) has
the authority to open them up. Frankly, I don't see Adobe's patent right
to PostScript as great a threat to the common weal as the railroad, oil,
or telephone monopolies, which were broken up in this country at various
times in the past century.

Be that as it may, there is another aspect to this issue. To wit, what
is TrueType all about but an alternative that ostensibly tries to allow
DTP not to be perpetually joined PostScript? Why assail the success of
Adobe's PostScript *just* because it has become the de facto standard?
What about other PDL's and proprietary font formats?

Recall two enlightening developments in consumer products in recent
years: Kodak's venture into instant photography and Windows. Polaroid
sued Kodak for stealing their technology, and they won, effectively
securing their monopolizy of the instant-photography business. How much
would film cost if Polaroid didn't monopolize it and charge US$10.00 a
box? Is that a rip-off? Shall we call for Polaroid to open its
hard-earned niche to others who want to undercut them? And oppositely,
Apple lost the "look and feel" lawsuit against Microsoft, not because
good polity calls for spreading the knowledge around, but because its
allegation of infringement didn't rise the level needed to win the suit.
And what happened? Microsoft steamrolled even further into the PC and
DTP market.

Back to you, James.

Michael Brady
[log in to unmask]

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