Let me start by saying I don’t want to be that guy. Last week I told you about Disqus and why I was killing their commenting system from my site. Now I’m about to tell you why I’m thinking twice about Google Fonts.
But this is a case-by-case basis, and only you can decide.
TOS = Terms of Service
To use Google Fonts, you must agree to their Terms of Service. That simply means, if you want what they’re giving you, you have to play by their rules.
And for the most part, I never mind about their rules. Until I was asked to re-look at them.
Google has announced their new TOS which takes effect in early December. And as I read the new version, I was drawn to the section that I highlighted above.
By using Google Fonts, you’re making an agreement
The agreement goes like this, as I read it. And here’s the caveat: I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on the internet. So take this for what it’s worth.
If I use Google Fonts, they get the right to take screenshots of my site and use them, my product names, and my company name.
Now, for most of us, that’s not a big deal. After all, wouldn’t I love it if Google took a screenshot of my site, pushed it out into the world and even used my name?
Sure. If we’re talking about my site here (chrislema.com).
But what about the sites I build for clients?
What about the sites I build for enterprise clients that may or may not be as excited at the same prospect?
And here’s the real issue.
What about on sites I build for clients who don’t want to make this agreement but have no clue that it was made for them by a developer they hired when the developer used a Google Font?
Developers & Designers make decisions for clients
Every time we write code for a client, we’re making decisions for them.
Most of the time they’re small ones. They’re not huge and they can be changed.
But developers and designers shouldn’t be making agreements. They shouldn’t be opening up a client to liability. And they shouldn’t be opening up a client to a dynamic that the client has no idea about.
Communicate early and often
At the end of the day, like I said at the beginning, this is a decision you have to make in the context of your discussions with your clients.
I happen to have some clients that will not accept Google Fonts. And that even means that if WordPress, the installation, pulls in the agreement automatically, my clients want it removed. They don’t want to partner with Google in this way. And they’re not releasing the rights for Google to use their images, screenshots, product or company names.
So they’re using this plugin to help them disable Google Fonts.
Either way, you should make sure you read the newest Terms of Service for Google Fonts.