A rant on web font licenses

I make websites for a living. If you make websites for a living, sooner or later, you'll have to deal with web fonts. Yes, you can technically avoid them by going down the system fonts route, but designers love their fancy typefaces. And I don't blame them. Some of them are great, even though a part of me is happy that I can just default on Inter every time I need a sans. But I digress, this is not a discussion about typefaces, it's a discussion about web font licenses.

I paid for typefaces in the past. I used Maison Neue on an old version of this website. Lovely typeface. Would I ever consider using it again? Hell no. Why? Money. How much would it cost to bring back the lovely Maison Neue? Let's see… I'd need at least 3 separate fonts—a regular, a bold, and an italic—plus a monospaced version since I do have bits of code here and there. That would cost me 400€. And to be fair to Milieu Grotesque, at least it’s a one time purchase. So if I buy it now, at least I own the font and I can use it for other projects right? Nope. The font is tied to the domain name and I can only use it on this one domain. Oh and I can only use it if my site does less than 250,000 page views. Why? Is there some technical limitation? Nope. No good reason. Typefaces are, to the best of my knowledge, the only digital product that try to fuck you over with bullshit licenses.

I've seen all possible permutations. Licenses where you buy a fixed number of page views and once those are "used" (whatever the fuck that means) you have to buy some more. Licenses that require you to include a tracking script but then make you host the files. Licenses that are tied to domain names. The award for the most idiotic goes to the Akzidenz-Grotesk that as far as I can tell, is only purchasable as a complete family, starts at 10,000 page views a month which is nothing, and you have to renew the license each year. Oh and it's 1,200€. So many times I was willing to pay for a font only to walk away when presented with an idiotic license. And I just don't get it. Now, not all of them are like that. There are good people out there that simply make you pay a regular license and you're good to go. Most of them sadly use that idiotic pricing scheme that uses page views to determine the price which is just so stupid because either 1) you can't track my page views and so I can just lie or 2) you ask me to include some sort of tracking on my site for a goddamn font. It makes me so mad frankly. It's a digital product. It doesn't require maintenance. It doesn't require updates. Make it available at a price you think is fair and let's be done with it.

Rob suggested to include links to good resources and he's right so here we go. If you have more to suggest get in touch: