Several interesting things have happened in the font world in the last few months. They’re all related, so check all three points before you decide you know what I’m going to say.

Firefox 3.5 supports the @font-face css element. has some really great examples of how it’s used, and it looks very cool. This makes it
so that ALL major browsers support it.

Font licensing suddenly becomes a hot issue

The way the @font-face works is the font is loaded on the server, and downloaded as needed. This counts as “distribution”. It’s logical that commercial fonts would frown on this, but what’s not obvious is that often even “free” fonts aren’t allowed to be distributed either. This is where we learn about the difference between “free” and “Free”. “free” means gratis, you can use it without paying, but you don’t own it, and you can’t do anything with it they don’t want you to. “Free” means libre, and you actually get the rights to the font, and can do anything you want with it, even distribute it. The guys over at TypeKit have been following this issue closely, and blogging vigorously.

EcoFont is released


The Dutch company SPRANQ has released a new font called EcoFont. It’s really intended for print, and what makes it special are the holes.

The holes make it so that less ink is used when printing. They estimate an office of 5,000 can save about $125,000/yr. There are detractors of course, but the theory is cool.

Since I generally don’t print anything, there are other reasons I’m interested in it. For one thing, it’s Free. It hints at it on the web site, but I asked specifically, and here’s what they sent me:

Thanks for your email. It is ok if you use the font in your website
as long as you don’t offer it for download on the website. If you
want to offer it for download we ask you to make a link to our
download page at

I wrote back and asked if they’d be willing to make that more official, under the LGPL or something. We’ll see.

They also pointed out that it works in Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, even providing instructions on how to install it in Linux. They’re WAY more complicated than they need to be, but that’s ok. Just drop it into ~/.fonts and it’s ready to go.

The font you’re reading right now is EcoFont. It’s a little gray because of the holes, but perfectly readable. And you’re able to see it because of the @font-face tag. And I’m able to use it because it’s Free. Yay Freedom!

2 thoughts on “Fontastic news

  1. this is great news on so many fronts: all browsers beginning to make use of the @font-face tag and its fine attributes, FREE font, saving green… what’s not to like? I say detractors are just jealous. 😉

  2. Europeans know how to make everything into a bureaucratic nightmare!! Nice font though! I wonder if there are any effects on eyesight after long-term use!

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