Announcement: new font technology association to be formed

From: John Hudson (
Date: Thu Feb 27 2003 - 10:53:12 EST

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    On Thursday, 20 February 2003, twenty-three individuals representing all
    levels of the type business, from individual designers and small foundries
    to major font publishers and software developers, gathered in Heidelberg in
    response to an open invitation from the ATypI Technology Committee. The
    main agenda item was to examine options and define the best possible model
    for co÷peration on technical issues between font developers, font tool
    developers and system/application developers. Due to potential antitrust
    issues stemming from the ATypI statutes and membership structure, Adobe
    Systems last year raised concerns about the appropriateness of that
    association being involved in standards development, and announced that
    they would not be able to participate in such development within the
    framework of ATypI. Although, to date, Adobe is the only company to have
    voiced such concerns, it is clear that active co÷peration within the font
    and software industries requires the free and unfettered participation of
    all interested parties. In addition to this legal issue, concerns were
    raised at the Heidelberg meeting about the lack of focus and clear
    direction within ATypI. Given that technical issues are of overriding
    importance to those individuals and companies whose principal business is
    the making and selling of fonts, and that we are in a period of major
    change in font formats and tools, it is in the interests of the type
    business to create an organisation to address these issues in a focused and
    effective way. At the conclusion of the Heidelberg meeting, the attendees
    unanimously voiced assent to the creation of a new international
    association. A small steering committee has been formed to shepherd the new
    association into existence.

    International Font Technology Association (IFTA)

    Preliminary report and structural proposals (under consideration of
    steering committee):

    In order to maintain the focus of the new association, and also to ensure
    that its activities do not overlap with the traditional legal, business,
    educational and design concerns of ATypI and other organisations, the
    Heidelberg meeting identified three r˘les for IFTA:

    1. To develop and publish standards, industry recommendations, and
    developer resources.
    2. To facilitate co÷peration and information exchange between font, tool
    and software developers.
    3. To provide a point of contact between the type business and related
    standards organisations, e.g. Unicode, World Wide Web consortium.

    Membership in the new association will be open to any individual or company
    whose principal business is the development of fonts, tools for making
    fonts, or other software that relates directly to or has a central reliance
    on fonts. An appropriate, multi-tiered membership structure is being
    considered by the steering committee, and will include both full and
    associate membership at corporate and individual levels, as well as
    provision for invited expert/consultant membership. An effort is being made
    to define a level of membership between individuals and corporations that
    reflects the small size of many digital font foundries.

    The steering committee has four goals:

    1. To draw up statutes and an intellectual property policy.
    2. To establish the association as a legal, non-profit entity in an
    appropriate jurisdiction.
    3. To put in place an appropriate web presence and e-mail discussion fora
    for members and developers at large.
    4. To open the door for membership at the earliest opportunity.

    Once the membership reaches a certain level (to be determined and announced
    when the first members are admitted), the steering committee will step down
    and a board will be elected. The board will be a small body (not more than
    seven people) with a facilitating r˘le, and will be popularly elected (one
    vote per full and associate member). The board will have the power, at the
    request of members, to form working groups and committees to pursue
    specifically defined goals and to develop and publish standards, industry
    recommendations and resources for font developers.

    Full and associate members may participate in working groups and
    committees, as may invited experts/consultants. Proposals, working papers
    and expert feedback will be welcome from all levels of membership and also
    from developers at large. All working groups and committees will seek
    consensus, but in the event that a vote is required only full members may
    vote; votes will be distributed according to membership level.

    A website, from which additional information and updates will be available,
    will be online soon, and will be announced in this forum.

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