After more than a decade of disagreements about how to let Web designers use real typefaces, the impasse was broken last year, and it's coming to fruition now. Instead of DRM, font foundries have agreed to something like "font streaming." No locks, compatibility across all browsers, and embedded text that explains the legitimate use of the font. Microsoft, Mozilla, and Opera brought the spec to the W3C, for crying out loud; Safari, WebKit, and Chrome are all signed on. The W3C accepted the WOFF spec in July; in September at the annual international type conference, there was much rejoicing. I explain more in the Economist's Babbage blog today.True to type (Thanks, Glenn!)
The success here is that foundries, protective of a market that doesn't have monopoly properties (there is plenty of competition), and makers of something that's easily copied even over low-bandwidth connections, have accepted that DRM doesn't work. Instead of relying on encryption and creating incompatible standards that require ridiculous infrastructure, type houses have opted to build a market in which they can make money by making it easy for designers to use their fonts. Who would have thought?