Font licensing = mattress tag

Cousin Phlegm's picture

This is only my second post. My first post was back in July entitled "Help with Licensing Management (dubious Font server thrown in my lap)"

SInce then, I am happy to report I've had some success getting fonts to be purchased according to their licensing. For example, we purchased a font for all the required seats of actual users with font access, instead of just the bare minimum option of 1 to 5 users.

But now my trouble is the other half of licensing — usage.

When I point out that the licensing does not allow collect for output or modifying into a logo for common example, I am literally laughed at and told nobody pays any attention to usage limitations. I don't mind being the brunt of jokes, but I am concerned about the infringement of intellectual property. Sometimes the reaction is anger, "We paid $5000 to use this font legally, instead of our usual $50 for 1 user, and you think we can't use it however we want?!" So they proceed to use it however they want to use it and I am viewed as the big office monkey-wrench trying to muck up the system with my imagined power.

I have explained how type can be protected by copyright, trademark, patent and all the laws pertaining to software. I have described collect for output to unlicensed users as software piracy. I am seen as being nuts. No one takes this seriously.

I realize we are not the only people operating this way, and I'm pretty happy I have made some progress on the purchasing side of licensing, but I still have a long way to go. So I would appreciate any help. One thing that would really help me is some accounts of the consequences of getting caught. I actually had a person hand me their mattress tag, "Do not remove under penalty of law" to demonstrate to me the FBI hasn't kicked their door down yet. So a link to convicted felon, or imposed fines or something from the public record that would help to support my idea of smart business practice. Meanwhile, I'm framing the mattress tag.

aluminum's picture

I can't help you traverse your office politics, but it sounds like you stated your case and made your concerns heard. I'm not sure there really is much more you can do short of a) quitting or b) busting them.

blank's picture

Honestly, you’ve already gone way above and beyond. Getting people to pay for their per-seat licenses is pretty impressive. About all you can do now is wait around to see if somebody is capable of catching a violation and sending a letter on a law firm’s letterhead.

Cousin Phlegm's picture

Thanks for the words of support, but I have searched around for some instance of comeuppance for people that play fast and loose with font licensing and I'm getting nothing returned. It seems like a lot of fine print for nothing to me. I can find other software violations, just no font software usage violations caught and penalized in some way. Its beginning to look like the mattress tag analogy is a good one.

aluminum's picture

There was a case several years ago regarding (fuzzy memory) a large ad agency that brought in a freelancer or intern who used a font on a major national campaign that the firm hadn't actually licensed.

As for your collect for output issue, maybe that's an excuse to get them updated on their prepress file prep technology. Perhaps push them towards a PDF workflow (one of the good uses of PDFs) that would help eliminate the need to bundle fonts all the time with the production files.

Cousin Phlegm's picture

Thanks for the suggestion, but we have the updated technology and we do sometimes exchange PDF's with embedded fonts. The problem is many printers, developer and post production houses insist on native files. So they require the font and someone in effect pirates it for them, at their request, by doing a collect or packaging or just plan copy it. Also, many times last minute edits are needed and that often requires native files. Not to mention, some preflight systems are so restrictive, they are impossible to clear with a PDF. Or so I am told those are the excuses.

If you think of any specific search criteria for your ad agency case, let me know.

hrant's picture

Dave, your efforts are exceptional, and highly
commendable. Please keep it up! Note however:
1) Fight the battles you can win, because if you
start losing, you'll lose more and more.
2) Just like there are unreasonable laws, there
are EULAs that have unreasonable clauses. The
best example is the one that says you can't do a
convert-to-outlines. Ridiculous. So you do your
best, but being a slave to the letter of the law
does not work out - not for you, not for society.
3) People getting caught or not doesn't need to be
the main affector. You might instead focus on the
ethical drawbacks of robbing small, hard-working
outfits, and the long-term social effects (like fewer
people bothering to make good fonts).


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