Google Fonts: Your Questions, Answered



  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 277
    Your answers, questioned?
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 837
    edited July 2014
    Ok, I’ll bite. Obviously, advocating for HTML text is not Google’s only motivation because the fonts are also available in their Google Drive apps. I just added 40 free fonts into a Google Doc, lickity split! That’s a nice way to add value to Google apps while driving folks away from conventional desktop apps.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,082
    the fonts are also available in their Google Drive apps
    And having those fonts cached on your system from having visited sites that use them as webfonts optimises performance for Google Docs and other Google services using those fonts.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,074
    edited September 2014
    Jay: What is Google getting out of developing fonts? What's in it for them? And not just a sentiment about 'getting into design', anyone care to speculate or answer? Is this really about Open Sourcing IP?...
    Stephen: ... Obviously, advocating for HTML text is not Google’s only motivation ...
    Stephen, you seemed to imply there was only 1 goal, but there are many benefits and some are more important than others. Web fonts availability in Docs was the 3rd blog post from the project.

    Google has been explicit about the various benefits to Google in its many presentations and participation in panels at conferences over the years. The 2010-09 presentation at ATypI wasn't video recorded, but the 2011-05 presentation at Google IO was, with a transcription made, is explicit about the "caching strategy" that John mentioned in the previous post.

    John implies this is of particular benefit to Google, but this is of equal benefit to every site using the fonts.

    So, Jay, how Google benefits has been explained since the beginning of the project in concrete terms. The sentiment about 'getting into design' is more recent than the majority of the lifetime of the project, so its not as much of a relevant benefit, but if you look at the most recent releases, I hope you'll see the quality being higher than what was released a few years ago. Stay tuned.
    and it really is about Open Sourcing IP?
    "Intellectual Property" isn't a meaningful term, its a mirage, because it is so broad and vague its impossible to talk about. It refers to different laws that have almost nothing in common. The three most common laws caught in this net are copyright, trademark, patent, and contract laws.

    Copyright: Google makes font data subject to copyright available under libre licenses to make the fonts used as widely as possible. Google makes some of the generic software not specific to its own internal web server infrastructure available under libre licenses, too, like sfntly, fontTools, nototools, fontbakery, etc. However, some of the software (like the directory web app) is only available under restricted copyright terms.

    Trademark: Google asserts unregistered trademarks over font names for fonts it owns, and most of the font names in the GF collection are owned by the designers who do the same. A few of the font names are registered (eg, Ubuntu) and Google gets permission for itself to use the trademarked name. I suppose that since the name of the font isn't displayed to readers by users of the GF service, users don't also obtain trademark licenses. I expect that websites that do display the font names, especially sites operated by large corporations, would do so. But those are private agreements, so we don't know if they do or do not exist.

    Patents: Google has worked with Monotype to release the MTX compression patent under terms friendly to libre or proprietary licensed software implementations. Google has filed some patents related to fonts, which are not released under terms friendly to libre or proprietary licensed software, which you can find via Google Patent Search.

    Contracts: The Google Fonts services are available according to the Terms of Service. This doesn't effect software freedom in the fonts or software.

    So, in my personal opinion, it really has been all about making fonts available under libre licenses, because if the fonts were not libre licensed they would not be used less, and Google wants web fonts to be widely used.

    If there is anything about Google Fonts you'd like to be libre licensed that isn't, let me know :)
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