Broadcast Licensing

Diner's picture

How does one calculate appropriate licensing fees for broadcast? Specifically a network television sitcom using freeware fonts for opening credits?

Both MTV's The Osbournes and CBS's Still Standing are using my freeware fonts primarily in the main title sequences of both shows.

In the case of The Osbournes, the font usage has spilled out into licensed merchandise and continues to grow the brand based upon my work.

I'm usually not a stickler about licensing nor am I trying to be greedy and take money out of the franchise. I do however feel that if a major network is going to use a typeface as the basis of the brand of the show that they would attempt to compensate the typeface creator by acquiring the appropriate licensing for the font.

While it is truly flattering and I'm excited to see the fonts in use so notibly, no attempts to contact me have been made by either network.

I open it up to the group to offer any advice, opions, or suggestions as to what would be fair compensation for the usage.

Thanks for the ear,
Stuart :D

Diner's picture

One other thought that came to me just after I posted this . . . Do you think House has an arrangement with E! regarding the usage of Countryhouse for the Anna Nicole Show titling?

Stuart :D

eolson's picture

Stuart - What does your freeware user license say? I couldn't find the font on your website.

gregorycadars's picture

I just looked the readme file you give with your freeware fonts, and for compensation i think you might include more precise conditions: "totally free for non-profit use, contact me for profit use", or something like that...


gregorycadars's picture

oops Eric we wrote our reply at the same moment
; )

hrant's picture

Stuart, why don't you contact them yourself?
And don't be all nice and stuff - threaten - it's their language.


Diner's picture

I had contacted MTV but they were not at all responsive and frankly I don't have the $$$ to sick a lawyer on them.

You are correct, there are no specific terms in my freeware licensing that would protect the fonts from use without some commercial license in place.

Other thoughts that I had entertained were to revised the license on my freeware faces to include something to the effect of if it's used for broadcast the Font Diner must be credited or a commercial license must be purchased.

If I tell people they must purchase a commercial license for commercial use, I'll get a ton of e-mail from individuals wanting to use it on their business cards and websites. Those aren't the folks I am concenred with as much as I am a major network or company.

Another great suggestion I received was to create a "pro" version of the fonts and release them as commercial quality at either my site or My Fonts. Right now, the fonts were done very early in my font making career and are quite techincally poor quality.

Perhaps it would encourage people to pay up for the better versions. Not becuase I intended it that way by releasing a lower quality first font, but becuase the older version is really quite horrid.


eolson's picture

But... you didn't include restrictions on use right? So technically, can't MTV do whatever they want with it? Stuart, you need to re-write that freeware license today!

union's picture


On a similar note I noticed T26 have started to sell the offical Harry Potter font.

Surely there is money to be made here from the offical Osbornes font. Think of how many people would want to buy that!

Repackage the font and sell it.


Diner's picture

Thanks for the tip Jim, however it has reached internet saturation already as that.

googled here

Different than the Harry Potter face, this font was always freely distributed. It wasn't until this discussion I transitioned my Silverware library to TT only and the end user needed to buy the commercial license of the face to get the PS version and the license.

By the way Joe, I took your suggestion but sent 'em an invoice and it eventually was paid. Not by MTV or the production company who did the titling, but by the artist who designed the credits because font licensing was his responsibility to MTV.

Oh well, the license expires each season, so if I see the faces used come fall, you can bet another invoice will be showing up in MTV's mailbox.

Stuart :D

union's picture

Out of interest did it boost sales?

I might start sending our fonts to TV companies.. hehe..


Joe Pemberton's picture

While 'threaten' may be too strong a word, I
agree. You have to make it absolutely clear
they're dealing with the Font Diner 'legal' or
'licensing department' and not with Stuart
Sandler, the small-beans, nice guy, type

Here's an approach:

Write a letter (from your Font Diner licensing
dept.) saying you're aware they're using the
fonts in violation of the licensing agreement.
Attach an invoice to the letter. No confrontation
or name-calling necessary. It gives them the
benefit of the doubt and doesn't paint you as a

Then if they don't pay it, you'll have more
ground to call a lawyer or seek legal action.

Good luck with it. (And geez, don't apologize
for having a successful font!)

PS -- I'd love to see the work...

PPS -- Please don't misconstrue this as bona
fide legal advice. (I only play a lawyer on
the web.)

Joe Pemberton's picture

By 'small-beans,' I just mean, 'not backed by
an army of corporate lawyers.' (But, you
know what I mean.)

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