LBO room?

oldnick's picture

The last time I posted about this subject, it didn’t get much traction, which is unfortunate, because of what I am about to relate.

Some twenty-odd years ago, I worked as Art Director for an independent television station owned by Taft Broadcasting of Ohio, which was a family concern. Taft was Old School, and placed a high value on its employees, providing generous benefits and a defined benefits pension plan. It came to pass that the station was purchased in a Leveraged Buy-Out (LBO). The new owners had a quite different view of employees—they were considered more or less a necessary nuisance—and the benefits were trimmed back substantially and the pension plan was discontinued. Furthermore, rumors circulated that staff cuts were immanent and, in a stroke of cut-throat genius, the new management asked every employee to write his or her own job description. Thus, employees who did not wish to see their eliminated, padded their job descriptions so as to appear indispensable. And, thus, when the staff cuts did come, each employee remaining was saddled with more work than he or she could possibly do, yet had claimed was part of their job. As I said: cut-throat genius. As if to rub salt in the wound, the new General Manager bragged that the owners had learned these little tricks at industry conferences for LBO firms: a new generation of employers were thoroughly trained in how to screw their employees.

In another thread, I mentioned that, twice in the past month, I had been approached by vendors who wished to license my fonts, but only under a license of their devising. In both cases, the licenses extended to any and all media “currently known or yet to be devised.” In other words, the licensees were looking for obsolescence insurance at cut-rate prices. The fact that two different vendors asked for licenses containing precisely the same terms leads me to believe that similar seminars, conferences and/or workshops are encouraging potential licensees to seek these terms in order to pre-empt the inevitable costs of the font subscription licensing model which will inevitably evolve with the cloud computing model.

Has anyone else had similar terms proposed to them? Isn’t this an issue which we, the fontmaking community are going to have to deal with, or am I simply delusional? Any and all opinions on the subject are welcome.

John Nolan's picture

This kind of hyperbolic language is common in rights licensing legalese.

When I worked as a TV puppeteer I was once asked to cede my performance rights "in perpetuity, across the universe." I attempted, unsuccessfully, to talk them down to "an eon, across the galaxy".

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