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Among other hot CSS3 topics, bloggers are buzzing about @font-face. A frequently overlooked topic are the legal issues associated with this new design capability.  

The @font-face rule allows designers to upload any font, which the browser will download to render the page for the client. This means that designers can work outside of the traditional web safe fonts.  The rule:

@font-face {

font-family : ‘FontName’ ;

src : url (‘link’) ;


For more in-depth information on using the rule, visit w3.org.

After overcoming the initial excitement of the design possibilities, it’s important to consider a few legal issues.


Font Copyright

Unless you created the font yourself, there’s a proud designer out there who would like credit for their lovely font! Be sure to add attribution in the code. For example:

/* Font created by Jane Smith (link) */


Font Licensing

Where did you get the font from and what are the regulations associated with it? It’s so easy to browse through dafont.com or fontspace.com and just download font after font. Are there limitations for using the font? Is it for personal or commercial use? Remember to keep track of the licensing regulations before publishing it for thousands or millions of website visitors to see!


Font Piracy

Hopefully no one would do this, but it’s possible to go to a person’s website and download their font files! Be sure to consider this before uploading $1,000 worth of fonts for your website.

(Note: As was pointed out in the comment section of this post by Brian Love, you can protect your fonts on the web. Be sure to do this! Here is a link to instructions on protecting your fonts.)


Your Responsibility

As with any new development, it’s exciting to try out this new capability right away! As you do, keep your fellow designer in mind and consider these issues of copyright, licensing, and piracy.


To learn more about web design, consider our CSS Training.

2 Responses to “CSS3, Fonts, and Legal Issues”

  1. Allison:

    Great post! It is certainly important to be aware of these types of issues, especially if a client or company has private ownership over the font. After doing some further research, I found an interesting article that has information on some best practices for securing your font file. typekit has has free and paid plans for securely hosting your font files. Check out the article below:

    Serving and Protecting Fonts on the Web, TypeKit.


  2. Thanks Brian! I have updated the blog post to include your link!


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