FONTSMACK is a repository of Macromedia Flash files (SWFs) that you can easily drop into your sIFR-enabled site.

After registering the domain name on Monday night, doing the design on Tuesday, and the programming on Wednesday, it's live. FONTSMACK is an idea I had to offer an easy way to add sIFR to your site.

It's a little sparse at the moment as I just wanted to get everything up but over the next few days, expect to see a number of new features such as search and upload. You'll also be able to narrow down by company or font-style. I'll also be adding RSS feeds for general site news and for new fonts. In the meantime, take a look through and let me know what you think.

Update: Silly me, forgot the URL:

Update again: I've decided to send off e-mails to the font foundries to get clarification on the legal issues. In the meantime, I've removed all commercial fonts from the site. Stay tuned.

Final update: The follow-up.

Published June 30, 2005 · Updated September 17, 2005
Categorized as Other
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28 Comments · RSS feed
Adam Thody said on June 30, 2005

First off, awesome idea. I could see this coming in reallllly handy.

I am wondering about copyright issues with protected fonts though...

Jeff Croft said on June 30, 2005


I can't help but wonder: is this legal? Even if it is legal, is it in the nest interest of sIFR and the font foundries?

It's a good idea and something that could be very useful, I just wonder if font foundries will see this as unauthorized distribution of their typefaces.

Philippe said on June 30, 2005

Great, i would suggest that you consider the font encoding problems (basic latin, extended latin, central european, cyrillic).
Maybe some information a la

Philippe said on June 30, 2005

you're completely right, this is NOT legal, except for public domain fonts.

Jonathan Snook said on June 30, 2005

From a legal perspective, I must admit it's not exactly clear. I don't see how this is any different than any other Flash movie that is distributed on the Internet.

Philippe: Could you elaborate or point me to some information that is definitive on that?

If this does turn out to be illegal, I'll most certainly change things. I'm not looking to break the law or any copyright infringement.

Tom Greuter said on June 30, 2005

And is the url probably?

sosa said on June 30, 2005

do you forget to post the url or you want to challenge our researching abilities?

BTW. The site is cool, a little femenine, but cool.

Jonathan Snook said on June 30, 2005

Thanks for pointing out the missing URL! I've updated the article with the url (yes, Tom, you are right...)

Philippe said on June 30, 2005

If you publish any creative work using a non-public font you are supposed to own a license of the font.

Font always come with a very precise license that you have to agree when you buy them. Not being aware of these terms is not an excuse ;)

I won't bet that Adobe or Linotype let you publish their fonts like that.

Philippe said on June 30, 2005

Back to my encoding note:
"Un ?t? ? la plage" won't show accented characters.

Jonathan Snook said on June 30, 2005

Philippe: Ah, but once the file is published (using a licensed font), what are the legal implications of distributing that file?

And the encoding is a good point. I'll re-export the fonts and think of a way to demonstrate what characters are embedded.

steve said on June 30, 2005

It can't be legal to do this, nice idea, but I'd be careful of getting sued!

Mike said on June 30, 2005

There are still plenty of good and free fonts that don't suck:

The site has been suspended for the moment.

Philippe said on June 30, 2005

I'm not a license specialist...

I believe that from a foundry point of view (i don't work for a foundry!) it's pretty much like distributing a TTF or a Postscript font.. They may as well sell ready-to-use "sIFR fonts".

Philippe said on June 30, 2005

Maybe a start:

Jeff Croft said on June 30, 2005


I'm sure the reason that site has been suspended is because they were distributing commercial fonts as 'free," even though they weren't. I mentioned it here when I discovered that site:

Jeff Croft said on June 30, 2005


I think the main difference between these sIFR files and any other Flash file that embeds a font is that you are explicitly giving people a way to use commercial available fonts in their creative projects (web pages) without owning that font. This isn't exactly your<,/em> problem -- it's sort of a hole in sIFR. But, by distributing these Flash files you are kind of promoting what could be deemed piracy of fonts.

Most Flash files do not provide people who download them a way to re-use the embedded fonts in creative projects.

Jonathan Snook said on June 30, 2005

Jeff: It's not even really a hole in sIFR but a hole in the licensing from the foundries. In doing some research (thanks Philippe), I've discovered the companies such as Adobe and Font Bureau specifically allow embedding fonts. The link Philippe gave for ITC specifically requires a different license.

In retrospect, if/when I do open things back up for commercial fonts, I'll likely not offer the ability for users to upload fonts due to my inability to police whether those who've uploaded a font actually own the license for it.

Philippe said on June 30, 2005

From the Font Bureau license:

"Licensee is not permitted to create or distribute to unlicensed parties documents or graphics containing an embedded copy of the Font Software containing a facsimile of the entire or substantially all of the character set of the typeface design embodied in the Font Software."

Mike said on June 30, 2005

Thanks, Jeff. I readily admit my amateur status.

Jeff Croft said on June 30, 2005


Certainly wasn't calling you an amateur. :) That site made the rounds as a place to get good "free" fonts and many of the fonts it was distributing were commercial. I'm not sure why the other designers that linked it didn't pick up on this, but if you're not a type nerd, it would have been hard to tell the difference, I guess.

Jonathan Snook said on June 30, 2005

Philippe: best to quote the best part (emphasis mine):

...formats that may contain embedded fonts include, but are not limited to the .pdf (Acrobat), Web Embedding Font Technology (WEFT), Flash and the TruDoc formats.

Oliver Zheng said on June 30, 2005

Great idea! As for the legal issues, users uploading their Flash source files including the commercial fonts maybe illegal. However, if the licensing of those fonts was made public for Font Smack, it would be much more convenient for everybody. Good luck!

Jeff Croft said on June 30, 2005

I think the bottom line is that no font foundry's license is going to have explicit inclusions for a technology such as sIFR. They mention Flash, sure, but they're thinking of traditional Flash usage -- in which people downloading the Flash file can't use it to create sites with their fonts despite not having a license.

Becuase the licenses won't specifically outlaw such a usage (such a thing didn't exist until sIFR), you might get away with it for a while, but I can almost guarantee the foundries will revise their licenses or send you cease and desist letters.

The bottom line is that this may not break the letter of their law, but it certainly breaks the spirit of it.

Mark Wubben said on July 01, 2005

Hey Jonathan, nice idea. Unfortunately you're not the first, but a nice idea none the less :)

Something you might want to think about when you get the licensing issues solved is that a next version of sIFR will probably require you to re-export your fonts. You might want to keep that in mind when filling the site with fonts...

Good luck with the site, and thanks!

Gavin said on July 01, 2005

Drop me a line if you want to collaborate or cross promote with



Scott said on July 05, 2005

Providing a method of downloading sIFR files is such an excellent idea, even if it is only freely available fonts.

It would be cool if someone made a tool that would allow you to upload a font file and then dynamically create a sIFR for only that user to download (because it might get around copyright issues, since they own the font and the server isn't using it.) I'm not sure if there's a GD-like library for working with flfash though, so I don't know how feasible this would be.

Scott said on July 05, 2005

Haha, that strange jumble of letters was meant to read "flash". Sorry for the typo and the second post explaining it.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to send them to me directly.