Help with Licensing Management (dubious Font server thrown in my lap)

Cousin Phlegm's picture

I'm not a typography guy, but I have had the task of administrating a font server delegated to me. Think hot potato. This is a server where everyone has thrown all kinds of fonts onto the server in the past without any concern to the licensing, how the font was acquired or how the fonts are use once they are available on the server.

I'm guessing I will need to sort through all the existing fonts, one by one, and match them to licensing I find online.

Any recommendation for font server software that has great licensing management features? i'd like to key-in main licensing features if there is a way to broadcast this info from the server to the end-user.

Any additional techniques or applications that would help to control use of fonts? Prevent collect for output, when it isn't allowed. Prevent logo creation, when it is not allow. Prevent internet use, when it is not allowed. But still allow these things when the licensing does allow for it. I can't micromanage 500 users, but I'd like to have a way to indicate licensing restrictions, at the time of end-user server use. If there was a way to require users to read or agree to the licensing at the point of use, even better. Right now, the people that buy the font are agreeing to licensing for fonts they do not use. Buyers agree to anything, and that is never communicated effectively to those that do use the fonts. Users think we "own" all the fonts.

Who governs or polices font EULAs? Do they have any guidelines? What are the visiting hours in prison?



Stephen Rapp's picture

Where I work we are upgrading from Font Reserve to Universal Type Server. UTS does keep track of Font Licensing to some extent and I think the newest version takes it even a little farther. I'm wrestling with a similar situation as you. Font Reserve for some reason would upload everything and anything from people's hard drives onto the server. When Extensis came and did a font migration for us it looked like a jungle of fonts with restricted or no licensing. I've been checking previous digital and paper trails to find out what we are licensed for and organizing that for the new server. UTS will allow you to define smaller groups for restricted licensing, but it will not police you. Certainly worth looking into.

As for EULAs, nobody will look over your shoulders, but if it becomes clear that you are blatantly violating a EULA, its possible a foundry might challenge you or in some cases audit you. I know Adobe will occasionally do audits of software licensing for large companies. I don't know if they do it as much for fonts though.


Thomas Phinney's picture

Since y'all are discussing it, I'll volunteer some extra details, though normally I try to avoid shilling for my product here on Typophile.

Actually, to a large extent UTS *will* police you, if the Universal Type Server administrator sets it up that way. You can set it up so all the fonts known to UTS are only stored on the server. With the new UTS 2, you can even set a system font policy that defines which fonts users are allowed to have manually installed in the system fonts folder, and UTS will remove non-permitted fonts. Of course, that feature is off by default as it's quite intrusive, but people who want to really lock down their UTS 2 setup can do so.

UTS also allows you to control whether users can add and remove fonts from the server, whether they can collect fonts for output, create/delete sets, create/delete licenses, apply license info to fonts, and a whole bunch of other stuff. This info can be applied globally to a user, or only apply to their rights within a certain workgroup. It can also be put into a "role" definition and roles can be applied to users as a shortcut to give them a particular set of permissions... and you can batch apply settings to users as well.

By default all font management happens on the server in a single central repository of fonts, but individuals can be given personal repositories ("workgroups") which can be either server-based or client-side.

UTS 2 also adds tracking of licenses and associating licenses with fonts, and tracking whether your font usage is within your licensing limits. It doesn't *actively* prevent usage in excess of the limits, but you can track things and see when adding a user to a given workgroup will exceed your license limits.

Whether individual end users have access to this licensing information is dependent on them having a certain kind of admin privileges.

As for another of your requests, if a font management app allows a font to be used in, say, Illustrator, AFAIK there's no way for it to then disallow somebody turning the font into outlines for a logo or whatever. I don't know of any font management app that currently allows/disallows access to fonts at the level of specific applications, though I imagine it could be done. (I'm not sure there's general demand for that feature, however.)



Thomas Phinney
Sr Product Mgr, Font Solutions

Stephen Rapp's picture

Thanks Thomas.

This was interesting timing for me as I've just about finished sorting fonts, but am still dealing with proper license issues. I had the basics training on UTS version one a while back. I should try and find out more about the newer version.

Hope your new home and job are going well.


Diner's picture

On the foundry side, I've always found it frustrating that the only app available to 'audit' font libraries in companies who want to go legit is Monotypes Font Audit app . . . Is there some sort of open database that any auditing software looks at? Identifont for example?


Cousin Phlegm's picture

I'm not finding any info on "Monotypes Font Audit" - can anyone point me in the direction of any font auditing software. I would love to be able to self-audit my font library or, better yet, audit commercial jobs that use fonts.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Monotype's app is called FontWise. They build a service around it....


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