Typekit’s “@flawed” solution to the “@font-face” problem

Slate.com had an interesting article about how the folks at Typekit are working to fix the legal issues with the @font-face rule in CSS. The article by Farhad Manjoo explains the issues and concerns of the foundries -vs- the desires of web designers. It’s a well written and thoughtful treatise. Go read it. I’ll wait.

If you are running an up-to-the-minute browser (like Firefox 3.5 or Safari 4) you can see the possibilities of the @font-face rule at this posting on the Craig Mod blog.

If you are worried that the web will become ruined by the same people who post in brightly-colored, bold, all-caps on e-bay and who can’t understand why no one else uses the “blink” tag, I have a question for you: Where have you been? It’s already ruined. Your question is beside the point…by about 20 yards, and downhill, across the slope, against the grain. If you are not the sort of person who asks that question—and feel slighted by the dismissive tone I just took with you—please allow me to apologize. You clearly are a person of wide and considered experience.

The problem (and if you’ve read Farhad’s post I apologize for restating the problem) is that the nice people who make and sell all the cool fonts (and even the horrible ones) are a bit freaked out that browsers can automagically download their fonts when said fonts are posted to a server and called by the @font-face rule. Typekit’s solution is fairly intelligent and not without precedent. They are set to allow people to subscribe to their service and thus be able to download the fonts. Those who don’t subscribe, or those who stop paying will see the page stripped of it’s coolness (depending on how you view Comic Sans Bold).

Here’s the rub: We’ve already solved this problem. The designers buy the fonts. They use them for the client who pays the designer. The users (or viewers) pay nothing. To them, the design is free—until they pay for the product and provide cash to perpetuate the cycle.

Surely there is a way to keep it as it is. Designers love the font guys. They are the brushes and paint for our work. We clearly don’t want them to be victimized by font piracy. But then they aren’t currently getting paid for all the fonts I use in PDFs. That’s because Adobe reached an agreement and found a way to keep the fonts in cache. They can’t be reused by the viewer for his own designs. I’ll bet that there are some smart people at Mozilla, and Google, and Microsoft, and Opera etc. who could come up with a standardized way to do the same thing. I’d vote for that.

I’m sure the guys at Typekit could be part of that solution. I’d vote for that too.

I just want us all to get along…and we can’t do that if I can’t use at least a few of the 20Billion fonts I have installed. (Only 20 of them are versions of Comic Sans.)