Font options for webdesigners are increasing these days. There’s the imminent release of Firefox 3.5, which hails the arrival of embeddable fonts of your choice. There’s Typekit, a tool to ease the addition of the former (and some more). There’s sIFR, the so-far most adopted choice, and there’s also Cufon, a novel approach to the subject.
Common to all of these methods, however, is the question of legality. Whenever we choose a font which is not in the base Arial/Times New Roman pack, we’re probably using a font which does not explicitly allow embedding on the web.
In essence, when you’re using embeddable fonts, you distribute the precious font vectors across the silver streams of the interverse, freely and therefore copyable. Meaning; the type foundry responsible for your chosen font is unlikely to agree with you, that you absolutely must use Dax Wide for your new corporate website. Because if you do, every visitor to your website will have downloaded a copy of the font.
In fairness, I have yet to see a useful font file be extracted from the Flash files generated for use with sIFR, which is probably the primary reason for its widespread use and popularity. Reading about Cufon, I suspect the same holds true for that technology (please correct me if I’m wrong).
So what options remain, now that in the next few months we’ll finally be able to expand our type-base? Aside from the continued use of sIFR and Cufon, we have two options:
- Use a font which specifically allows for
@font-faceembedding (here’s a list)
- Use Typekit, which — I’m told — will work with type foundries to provide classy fonts for your typical needs
These are not bad options, especially because we’re mainly talking body-text here (again, you can use sIFR or Cufon for headlines). More interestingly, however, is the prospect now that the technology is (almost) there. I find it quite likely that we’ll see buckloads of amateurs giving away their spare-time font projects for free under liberal licenses. Some of these fonts are quite good, some of them, like Arial, are just cheap knockoffs of their better-looking counterparts. Nonetheless, an avenue for a sky-rocket trip to font-hall-of-fame will have have opened up, and you and I will reap the benefits.