Typefaces - the first cut is the deepest?

Redemption_seeking_sheep_thief's picture

This is mainly a question about licensing - apologies to those who were expecting something more exciting! With the age old problem of keeping typographic consistency within a large organisation (2000+ staff) I wanted to know: is it feasible for us to get slightly different cuts of dax/trade gothic done which we can rename and roll-out to all computers in our organisation for letters, presentations etc, rather than paying for a 2000 user license? if so, how much does a font have to be changed before you can own it in that way, and how much time/cost is it likely to incurr?

Really just wanted to hear from a professional whether they thought this is the best way to go on this issue?

thanks.

Owen

hrant's picture

In fact commissioning a custom font is a great way larger companies can save money! And establish a unique (or at least distinct) visual identity in the process. On the other hand, getting a (legal) derivative of a "famous" font won't achieve that since the owner of the original typically wouldn't want to lose money. So the way to do it is find a modest but capable type designer to make a new font close to a style that you'd like. But yes, not uncomfortably close... lest you make the mistake that UPS did.

hhp

blank's picture

…if so, how much does a font have to be changed before you can own it in that way, and how much time/cost is it likely to incurr?

I don’t know of any commercial type EULA that allows a user to change the typeface and redistribute it to users who do not have a license. What you want to do is very unethical and will likely make you the target of an expensive lawsuit. You should really pass this issue on to someone with a stronger moral compass.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Sounds like a perfect opportunity to have something new and unique drawn!

Jens Kutilek's picture

I presume you already know that the price of a 2000 user licence is usually less than 400 x the price of a 5 user licence ... ?

Jackson's picture

I presume you already know that the price of a 2000 user licence is usually less than 400 x the price of a 5 user licence ... ?

My multi-seat discount for a 1500-4999 user license is 98%

dezcom's picture

There are bunches of skilled type designers in the UK (start off at Reading). You might ask them what an honest new design would cost before you tread the murky waters of font piracy.

hrant's picture

OK Jackson, tell me if this is right: FF Dax OT is $226, so a 2000-seat license might be around $226 x 2000 x .02 = $9,040? I think you could find somebody to make a comparable custom font for less than that. But, to repeat: not a copy!

hhp

Jens Kutilek's picture

Hrant, $226 is the price of a 5 user license. 6 weights, no italics.

I think a more probable use case for 2000 users would be a »Basic Set« of four style-linked fonts: Dax Offc Basic Set (Regular, Italic, Bold, Bold Italic), for which the 5-user license is $142 (~ $28.40 per user).

A 1000 user license for the Basic Set is $3124 (~ $3.12 per user; for 2000 users you would have to ask for a quote) at fontshop.com.

But I agree, if you need more than these few styles, and can spend some more money, why not have somebody draw something unique that fits your company better.

Jackson's picture

6k is not that much money for a 2000 employee company, especially if it's for a key part of the brand's visual identity.

I'm sure you could find someone to draw a four-weight family for about that but I think you'd be taking a serious risk with the quality.

hrant's picture

But you get your own typeface of course.
Which is a key part of a brand's visual identity. :-)

hhp

Jackson's picture

I've actually been collecting cases of intentionally bad typography in corporate identities.

charles ellertson's picture

Haven't any of you guys ever heard of a site license? I'd see what FF would consider reasonable for one. Usually (according to a Spiekermann lecture I attended), a site license also allows for modifications, but you'd have to confirm that.

hrant's picture

Have you read the thread? The guy is trying to save money off a site license. Or actually, since he seems to be the graphic designer and not the boss, he's probably trying to spruce up the sad Times/Helvetica look of the company he works for by convincing his boss it's affordable.

We certainly don't want Ikea Syndrome to become widespread.

hhp

svenni's picture

"how much does a font have to be changed before you can own it in that way, and how much time/cost is it likely to incurr?"

A modified derivative of a typeface is still subject to the copyright restrictions of the original.

The only way you can get rid of the copyright is to have a lookalike typeface designed from scratch.

Ray Larabie's picture

Ascender can set you up with the modifications and the custom license. I don't know if they carry the fonts you're looking for but that's the sort of thing they do regularly.

Thomas Phinney's picture

> Ascender can set you up with the modifications and the custom license.
> I don't know if they carry the fonts you're looking for....

But in that case, you'd be paying more, not less; both paying for the original fonts and for the modifications.

Further, from some research I did about a year ago, given the prices cited above for the license fees for the existing typeface, and assuming you want a four-member (or more) family, you won't likely touch that for a new design of even vaguely comparable quality from an experienced type designer .

Regards,

T

dan_reynolds's picture

As Ray mentions, many of the larger foundries customize their own typefaces and type families all the time. As far as I am aware, the process is typically two-fold. First, the customer licenses the number of font weights for the number of seats that they want. Then, the font files are modified according to the customer's design wishes, and the fonts are also occasionally renamed. These edited files are the fonts that the customer uses (they use the fonts on to the number of seats they purchased licenses for).

The total fee (at least for the typefaces you mentioned) is likely less than what a custom, brand-new, from scratch, family of comparable quality would run at an outside designer or firm.

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