TYPE DESIGN INFORMATION PAGE last updated on Mon Dec 17 14:40:45 EST 2018






Five steps to font freedom

Great article by Adrian Hanft on font freedom, which was immediately criticized by the typophiles. Adrian's opening argument goes like this: There is something absurd about typography on the web. Think about these scenarios: You don't need to own a font to read a book set in Goudy. You don't need to own Futura to watch a Wes Anderson film. You don't need to own Times to read the Times. You don't need to own any fonts to watch television. Why not? Because that would be insane. And yet this same logic doesn't apply on the internet. Online, a person needs to own a fully licensed version of a font in order to view it in a web browser. You are reading Arial right now. That's right, Arial. Why? Because everybody on Earth has a licensed version of Arial on their computer. The great democracy of the internet has failed to produce typography any better than the least common denominator of system fonts. As a designer, I hope you are outraged and offended. So what can you do about it?

He then argues that we can solve the problem of limited on-line font selection by doing some or all of the following:

  • Convince the Font Companies to Surrender Their Monopoly.
  • Create Read-Only Versions of Fonts. [No real technical solution offered here, but the technicians should think about it.]
  • Adopt the Free Versions of Fonts. [Among the tens of thousands of free fonts, there are some good ones.]
  • Share Your Fonts. The idea is to share via P2P only for use in on-screen viewing.
  • Build Free Versions of the Classic Fonts. I quote: If we can't convince the font companies to set their versions of classic fonts free, we will recreate them ourselves. The great fonts are based on designs that are centuries old that can't possibly be protected by copyright law. Although it would be a major task, the collective power of the online community could create quality versions of classic fonts. Of his five recommendations, this is the one that is easiest to deal with if we all cooperate.

Five steps to font freedom
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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