morals clause in EULA ?

russellm's picture

I recently read the EULA for a font where the designer "absolutoely" forbade it's use in a number of things we'd all tend to agree are bad. It seems like a well intentioned, but pointless inclusion, and well, a little beyond the scope of a type designer's job. could a designer seriously contemplate taking any kind of action against some one who used his or her fonts to express thoughts, he or she disagrees with?

Paul Cutler's picture

Please tell us what foundry so we can avoid it.

pbc

Si_Daniels's picture

Here's one...

"The fonts on this site are freeware and can be used as they are in any context without permission from Apostrophic Laboratories, except to produce material that is racist, criminal and/or illegal in nature." via... http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Desyrel

Thomas Phinney's picture

Coming from Apostrophic Labs, a prohibition against producing illegal material is rather amusing. The Labs' founder, "Apostrophe," was once the world's most famous font pirate.

Cheers,

T

Si_Daniels's picture

As I recall the original Labs site was shut down by the owners because some of its freeware fonts were put on one of those commercial 1000 fonts for $10 CDs, closing a somewhat odd chapter in the history of fonts.

Nick Sherman's picture

I suppose it depends on how subjective the terms are and if they could hold up under a legal microscope. Theoretically the licensor can put whatever restrictions they want in the EULA and, if it's written well, can hold the licensee accountable once they've agreed to those terms. Whether or not that is a practical reality is another story.

I once had a conversation with the cartoonist Chris Ware and I asked if he had ever considered translating any of his wonderful lettering styles in to typefaces. He said he came very close to doing so once, but ultimately decided against it because he didn't want to see his work used for cigarette ads or other things that he didn't agree with. He certainly could have attempted to thwart such usage in the license, but I'm sure he realized, from a practical standpoint, it can be tricky to enforce restrictions beyond a certain point.

I've always been curious if there have ever been any licenses which attempted to restrict how the type was set to ensure it was used as intended – restrictions of size, spacing, capitalization, media, colorization, etc… like a legally instituted style guide.

Arno Enslin's picture

@ russellm

In my opinion those restrictions are more useful than strictly forbidding embedding. Well, design is not the same as art, but in case of art the artist should have the right to forbid the misuse of his pieces of art, because it is not necessarily recognizable for the public anymore, if the piece of art is shown in a context, that is in contradiction to the intention of the piece of art.

I assume, that, when the idea of EULA for digital products was born, the primary intention was money, but I can say for material pieces of art, sculptures for example, that the artist also can declare a license restriction with regard to the context, in which the piece of art is exhibited. In other words the artist could say: When you “buy” this sculpture, you are allowed to permanently possess it (if I don’t need it for an exhibition), but I remain the owner. In this case the fact, that sculptures (those ones, that are founded [in bronze for example]) are limited to a certain number of pieces, becomes a special meaning.

As more the typeface is a piece of art, as more such a license restriction can become useful. In case of a body text typeface it would be absurd, because the function “content transporter” dominates the meaning of the typeface (Otherwise it would be not a good body text typeface.).

Lol, in case of DTL I think they try to materialize their digital typefaces with the help of the price. The price makes the fonts to unicums.

Nick Shinn's picture


Some foundries stipulate that a special licence is required when fonts are used in goods for sale.

russellm's picture

Well, Paul I forget to foundry, and my purpose isn't to expose what I perceived to be a well intended gesture to critical comments here so I would name them in any event. I'm sure you would never use a font in any of the bad ways their EULA forbids any how. :o)

They can forbid the use of their fonts for any thing that promotes the use of white bread, and edible oil products for all I care, it just seems to me that if you want your EULA to be taken seriously, you are better off sticking to restrictions that at least sound like they would have a realistic chance of being taken seriously. Such a clause dilutes the purpose of the document, I think.

blank's picture

My EULA contains a clause requiring the purchase of a “special license” for use in any political or religious materials. I did this mostly so I can refuse to sell license to really flagrant arseholes.

dezcom's picture

As hard as it is to police normal EULA issues, I can't imagine this kind of thing having any teeth. I would just take it as someone making a philosophical statement in albeit a small voice. I would not criticize their attempt, though. I see it as a harmless voicing of their opinion. I would never boycott them either, unless they were supporting Nazis or something else I did not condone.

Arno Enslin's picture

@ James Puckett

My EULA contains a clause requiring the purchase of a “special license” for use in any political or religious materials.

So it is only a question of money? 100 Dollars more for the catholic church. 10 Dollars more for scientology. And 5 Dollars more for the Charles Manson sect.

If not, I like your EULA.

blank's picture

So it is only a question of money?

Yes and no. Mostly I just want to keep my fonts away from hate groups and cults like Focus on the Family, LDS, the moonies, and the Knights of Columbus. I specifically wrote that clause because of the bigotry coming out of LDS in recent years. The way I see it, when even the normally warm-and-fuzzy Mormons start acting like shits it’s time for sensible people to start building walls around them.

But even if I did not find a religious or political use offensive I would still charge them more than corporate licensees because both have absurd amounts of money to throw around and a willingness to spend wildly, even recklessly.

xo's picture

@Arno Enslin
"Well, design is not the same as art"

One could say that design is not an art, but design as a business is art unto itself.

Arno Enslin's picture

@ xo

True. And if art becomes a market-oriented business, it is only art unto itself. Art is a dictatorship in a sort. Naturally an artist can accept an order, but if he has a soul, he cannot bend it. If he can bend it, he is not an artist, but a whore. Except he clearly says, that he is a designer.

Si_Daniels's picture

>it’s time for sensible people to start building walls around them.

I would be inclined to run this policy by your attorney. Only takes someone with time on their hands to take offence and claim discrimination. Like this chap...

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/weird/Jedi-Claims-Discrimination-at-Groce...

dezcom's picture

Tell young Skywalker to shop at Safeway :-)

Si_Daniels's picture

When Lord Vader was picking a typeface he skipped James fonts after reading the EULA... "the clause is strong in this one"

.00's picture

You are allowed to limit who uses your intellectual property.

My EULA has a similar clause as James Puckett describes. I may have given him the idea when I was discussing this in class this past semester.

Si_Daniels's picture

>You are allowed to limit who uses your intellectual property.

Fair enough, but a better solution might be to offer discounts to the "other side" - they need font help!

http://i218.photobucket.com/albums/cc2/shadowphoenix143/Prop%208%20prote...

http://i2.crtcdn.net/images/asset/895/031/26/US1g3VT4_400x300.jpg

Tomi from Suomi's picture

Basic: if effect,, if not; not basic. Yes, stupid.

John Hudson's picture

The idea of ‘moral’ clauses in EULAs is an interesting one, although it seems to me that what we're really talking about is exclusionary clauses targeting people or groups of people with particular ideas or involved in particular activities, and such clauses may or may not be defined in terms of morality. I might decide that my fonts are not to be used to promote scrapbooking, but not because I consider scrapbooking immoral. People find it easy to dress their prejudices up as morality, but I figure its easiest to simply avoid the moral debate in intellectual property licensing and simply be as bloody-minded as one is willing to be seen to be (and is willing to enforce). Alternatively, just put the stuff out there and if it ends up being used in a way of which you disapprove, use that occasion as an opportunity to speak out.

My moral code is summarised by the statement ‘Don’t be an arsehole’ -- or as Christ more politely put it, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ --, but I'm not sure how to frame that in terms of a EULA.

James: Mostly I just want to keep my fonts away from hate groups and cults like Focus on the Family, LDS, the moonies, and the Knights of Columbus. I specifically wrote that clause because of the bigotry coming out of LDS in recent years. The way I see it, when even the normally warm-and-fuzzy Mormons start acting like shits it’s time for sensible people to start building walls around them.

This is sad, and also ironic, because if you talk to e.g. many Christians about how they view secular culture, you'll get a similar response: they are frightened and feel that walls need to be built to protect the values that they see under threat. The result is an acutely bitter divide based on mutual fear and distrust, which finds expression in both political and cultural terms. I am reminded of the frequent exhortation of John Paul II, ‘Be not afraid!’ -- not because there is nothing to be frightened of but because he knew, having lived through the Nazi occupation and communist repression in Poland, that people often do terrible things when they feel threatened.

One of the things that I love most about type and typography -- at least text typography -- is its intrinsic connection with dialogue, with the exchange of ideas. One of the reasons I am less interested in display typography is that it seems more like shouting than conversation. The trouble with building walls, defensive though they may be, is that you end up with either the silence of separate solitudes or people shouting at each other over the ramparts. The opportunities for conversation are greatly diminished and, hence, so are the opportunities for typography to do what it does, i.e. articulate that conversation in written form.

There are certainly things I hope not to see my typefaces used to promote -- things ranging from tacky and tasteless to moral evil --, but I don't seek to prevent such use.

William Berkson's picture

Well put, John.

Tomi from Suomi's picture

John-
I agree with you.

david h's picture

> My EULA contains a clause requiring the purchase of a “special license”
> for use in any political or religious materials...

and what about the tobacco industry? gun/firearms industry?

Paul Cutler's picture

Perfect John. If you want tolerance, be it.

pbc

blank's picture

John, to come back to your example of John Paul II, well, he had faith in the good of humanity. Lately I rarely do—especially at the intersection of politics and religion.

and what about the tobacco industry? gun/firearms industry?

I can’t say that I find either one horrible enough to want nothing to do with. When evil is that crass it really doesn’t bother me. But when religion and government start dragging each other down I just don’t want to be involved.

blank's picture

If you want tolerance, be it.

It’s a cute sentiment, but it doesn’t work when the moral compass of the other side is guides them to treat other people as subhuman. Ghandi succeeded at turning the other cheek because the British came to find the idea of pummeling defenseless Indians repugnant. When the Buddhists in Burma tried it they got their brains dashed out. Tolerance has limits.

charles ellertson's picture

"So it is only a question of money?"

Yes and no. Mostly I just want to keep my fonts away from hate groups and cults . . .

But even if I did not find a religious or political use offensive I would still charge them more than corporate licensees because both have absurd amounts of money to throw around and a willingness to spend wildly, even recklessly.

* * *

Seems to me your trying to have it both ways. That usually doesn't work in a moral context.

.00's picture

From our EULA:
Use of Terminal Design Font Software in the following circumstances and/or applications is NOT permitted without first obtaining express written permission and, if applicable, the appropriate licensing upgrade. In order to obtain a license upgrade, you must contact Terminal Design at (email address redacted) for more information. If you are unsure whether your use of the Font Software is specifically permitted under this Agreement, contact Terminal Design:

a) ALPHABET OR LETTERFORM- RELATED PRODUCTS FOR RESALE;
b) BROADCAST or FILM;
c) ELECTRONIC DEVICE OR GAME EMBEDDING;
d) SOFTWARE EMBEDDING; and
e) RELIGIOUS OR POLITICAL CAMPAIGN USES.

I don't see it as a question of morality just one of commerce. I'm just trying to protect my IP, get paid, and have some control as to where it appears.

aluminum's picture

It's all commercial art. Commercial art, for the most part, is to used to sell. If I make something that is used successfully to sell something, I'd consider that a success. Whether it was used to sell cigarettes or puppies seems irrelevant. IMHO, of course.

.00's picture

I understand all about commercial art. I used to do the lettering for the Joe Camel ads. Like I said before, I just want to have some, just some control over how my work gets used.

.00's picture

Early in my career I worked at a NYC type shop that had close ties to a fringe political movement. Almost everyone in the shop was a committed member of the cause, except me. Part of my job was to design their political publications. Some of those designs are still being used all these years later. That experience gave me a little taste of fringe movements and their particular brand of insanity.

Like I said, I only want to have some control over how my work gets used.

blank's picture

Seems to me your trying to have it both ways. That usually doesn't work in a moral context.

Having it both ways allows me to leave the door open to the vast majority of religious and political uses that are entirely benign. As I noted above, what really made me go this route was seeing Mormons, who have a deep cultural memory of the dangers of both being victims and perpetrators of discrimination, promoting discriminatory laws. But that is an extreme and not the general behavior of people with religious and political inclinations. So rather than just slam a door in their face, I closed the door gently and left a nice big knocker on it for anyone interested in pleasant discourse.

Like James Montalbano, I only want to have some control over how my work gets used.

quadibloc's picture

I know that for software, moral clauses in EULAs are sometimes unenforceable. Thus, a clause like "This spreadsheet may not be used in the design of nuclear weapons systems" is something one isn't going to be able to enforce against the Chinese government.

A typeface is a somewhat different matter, since when you use a typeface in printed matter, you are, in a way, identifying the designer of the typeface with that matter. Or at least it can seem like that. But I can also see how liberal use of such clauses may be an impetus for the United States, at least, to continue hesitating on protecting typeface designs.

xo's picture

I wonder if a morals clause could be used by popular typographers to put certain political groups at a disadvantage in terms of font choice. Now that'd make for one hell of a social experiment.

quadibloc's picture

Interesting. However, extreme right-wing groups that preach racial hatred probably should stick to Caslon Old Style. Faces like Univers and Optima are clearly for liberals... and even Times Roman doubtless has Fabian Socialism in its pedigree somewhere.

Still, keeping their grubby paws off of Centaur and Cloister Old Style and the like might be worth trying.

Ehague's picture

I don't like to imagine a future in which in order to advocate certain practices and ideologies we can only use fonts designed by individuals who don't find them morally abhorrent. I think in such a world people will eventually get sick or reading EULAs and just play it safe by using Gill Sans and Perpetua for everything. : )

claes's picture

I don't see a problem with trying to protect your work against being used by undesirable groups, organizations, etc.

Consider the swastika, originally not a symbol of evil but now synonymous with the Nazis in most parts of the world to the point that it's illegal to be publicly displayed in Germany. Imagine if your font is used by some extreme group and ends up becoming synonymous with them to the point that no one else would want to use it? A font obviously isn't as distinct as a "logo" like the swastika, and it's probably highly unlikely that extremist groups could become so prominent that it'd render a font they use undesirable to others, but I can't blame those wanting to protect their work.

Si_Daniels's picture

On the flip side imagine the PR possibilities. Picture the headlines… "Swastika's designer cries foul on Nazi logo use - 3rd Reich out of touch" - or more realistically "McCain's font choice, a bad one claims font's designer Zapf"

aluminum's picture

I certainly can't knock someone from not wanting their creation used by groups they disagree with.

From a general consumer perspective, however, I find detailed EULAs to be annoying. Having to know which fonts I can use in each particular case can become daunting if each and every font creator has their own personal agenda they want to put in the EULA. I can use this font for Methodists, but not for Mormons. This one for republicans but not democrats. This one for red heads but not brunettes.

That can get messy.

dezcom's picture

"Vodka martini, shaken, not stirred"

quadibloc's picture

> just play it safe by using Gill Sans and Perpetua for everything.

And here I thought they'd play it safe by using Franklin Gothic and Century Expanded for everything.

russellm's picture

I don't know about Gill Sans, if we're talking morality clauses :o)

John Hudson's picture

quadibloc: However, extreme right-wing groups that preach racial hatred probably should stick to Caslon Old Style. Faces like Univers and Optima are clearly for liberals... and even Times Roman doubtless has Fabian Socialism in its pedigree somewhere.

Many, many years ago, back when the comp.fonts newsgroup was a reasonable place to have a discussion about typography, I received a phone call from a man with a southern US accent who has stumbled across something I had written there and was seeking advice on typography for a book he was self-publishing. He was using Times New Roman and, since he knew very little about typography, wanted to check that this was an appropriate choice. What kind of book is it? I inquired, thinking that I might be able to suggest something more distinctive and attractive than Times. ‘It's about politics,’ he explained, ‘My name is David Duke.’

Times New Roman, I assured him, would do just fine.

dezcom's picture

‘My name is David Duke.’

YIKES!

Si_Daniels's picture

I would have denied the existence of Times New Roman. Perhaps suggesting Wingdings as a viable alternative

William Berkson's picture

Is it even legal in the US to refuse to sell goods to a particular group of people on the basis of political beliefs or religion?

.00's picture

Font software is not a good or service that is sold, but Intellectual property that is licensed. And the IP holder can manage and restrict it anyway they like. How many songs have been removed from some political party's campaign because the proper rights were not obtained?

blank's picture

Is it even legal in the US to refuse to sell goods to a particular group of people on the basis of political beliefs or religion?

I do not sell goods. I license type for use as I see fit, and when I do I am—in a very limited way—taking part in the creation of whatever is created using my fonts. Thus, as a printer has the right to refuse to print religious materials that he finds offensive, say, The Satanic Bible, I believe that I have a right to refuse to license my type for a printing of The Satanic Bible.

Ramiro Espinoza's picture

At Nick:

>> 'Some foundries stipulate that a special licence is required when fonts are used in goods for sale'.

I am thinking about including a something like that in my EULA. Can you point out some examples?

Thanks.

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