In Five Steps to Font Freedom, Adrian of Be A Design Group suggests some ways to improve typography on the web, noting that you don’t need to own the fonts in books, movies, newspapers to view works in those media. The fifth suggestion is interesting, even outside of that particular goal:
5. Build Free Versions of the Classic Fonts
If we can’t convince the font companies to set their versions of classic fonts free, we will recreate them ourselves. The great fonts are based on designs that are centuries old that can’t possibly be protected by copyright law. Although it would be a major task, the collective power of the online community could create quality versions of classic fonts. Little by little, we can build an open source classic font library! Does anybody have a complete set of the original Garamond that I can borrow? Let’s get started…
Applying the open source development process to make freely available and modifiable versions of classic fonts like Garamond, Caslon, Bodoni, Baskerville, etc. is a fantastic idea.