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On Design

Hoefler v. Frere-Jones: The Webfont Problem

Alex Osorio

Any good designer knows that some of the most brilliant typefaces come from the foundry known as Hoefler & Frere-Jones, or H&FJ. Wax poetic about the slabs in Archer? Swoon over the hunky Gotham? Admire the strong sensibility of Whitney? Yes, Yes and Yes. I will go to there. So, as a web designer, I was thrilled when H&FJ announced their Cloud Typography service.

After beginning a couple new side projects, I found myself exploring the idea of signing up for a yearly membership with Cloud Typography. Then the news broke that the infamous type duo was splitting and that Jonathan Hoefler had apparently done wrong by Tobias Frere-Jones. Horrified,
I immediately thought of how awful they must feel I immediately thought of my own selfish type needs. I want to use these amazing typefaces in my web design projects but I feel a sense of guilt not knowing how things will pan out legally for Tobias Frere-Jones. What kind of compensation will he recieve if designers everywhere sign up for the Cloud Typography service? Is he being treated fairly?

How do other designers feel about this? Is anyone aware of any factual information that can assuage my guilt? I (and I'm sure other designers) would love to have all the facts on this.