Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What is this web page?

I recently delivered a talk to the aTypi, an allliance of typographic designers (Sept 28, 2006). In my talk, I discussed ideas of universality, commonality, and globalism as they relate to the history and current practice of typography. I ended my talk with a discussion of "free fonts," pointing out that most are of poor quality and many are a violation of intellectual property rights. I also talked about the small "free fonts" movement that is aligned with the open source and copyleft movements. While preparing my talk, I set up a web page as well as this blog to get feedback from designers in the type community about the idea of free fonts and whether they could have any redeeming value. Since giving the talk, many people have aired their views on this blog. Thanks for your responses; it has been a fascinating conversation.

As of January 18, 2007, this blog is no longer accepting comments, but I am keeping it up as a record of the conversation.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Why would a typeface designer want to give a font away?

1. To make a selfless gift to humanity.
2. To raise global awareness of typographic excellence.
3. To create a visual resource that will be used by students, citizens, amateurs, and professionals all over the world.
4. To contribute to a global design vocabulary.
5. To seed the world with a visual idea that could be built on and enriched by other designers serving smaller linguistic communities.

Who needs free fonts?

The lack of access to high-quality free fonts encourages students to engage in criminal behavior. Such behavior also is endemic in the developing world, where the idea of paying for typeface licenses is often counter-intuitive. If typeface designers worked to populate a small but rich domain of high-quality typefaces that could be freely used by anyone on earth, they would help improve the accessibility of communications worldwide, while also raising the standards for typographic excellence.

Open Letter to John Warnock

Andrei Michael Herasimchuk recently posted a letter asking Adobe to release five great fonts into the wild. But why just five fonts? And why just Adobe? Shouldn't every typeface designer have the opportunity to make a gift to humanity?

How should a free font be licensed?

Just like commercially distributed fonts, free fonts should be protected under licenses. SIL has developed an Open Font Licence that helps defend the integrity of the original design while encouraging other designers to expand the typeface in new ways. It also also prohibits others from repackaging the typeface or any derivatives of it as a commercial product.