Legal Distribution

MrJu5to's picture

Hi all, im new hear, so please be gentle. Ive done a bit of a search, ok extensive, and cant find any definitive answer, maybe there isnt one... Or maybe someone here can shed some light/wisdom.

I, as the studio manager endeavour to keep our licensing completely legal and avoid any infringements. We are a production department within an agency, and generally we do all our work in-house. Our licences cover this in excess (approximately 30 machines) but I always purchase 40-50 to cover growth etc.

Recently due to increased workload we have come into the situation where we have had to commission external parties (freelance suppliers) to build our designs (albeit webpages and micro sites) based off our photoshop designs supplied to them. The fonts in these designs are completely static, however we need to supply them the fonts to create/build the work. These freelance suppliers generally work from home or their studio. Is such work covered under the majority of EULA?

My concern is, if it is not, and they need to acquire their own licences, it could potentially blow out budgets significantly, where a $200 piece of work could potentially end up in the thousands after purchasing additional licences for their site/location.

Or would this be covered similarly to a print bureau, where fonts are supplied to output/print the work then deleted after the completion of the job.

Alternatively can you suggest any other ways around this?

hrant's picture

they need to acquire their own licences

Yup, pretty much. :-/

Many font houses don't even allow the print bureau borrow-then-delete scenario you mention. You can probably understand why (that last "delete" bit won't actually happen). Heck, some of them don't even allow PDF embedding! I myself believe this last one is too much.

Work-around? Here's the only one I can think of, although it's a massive gray area: transfer ownership of the font to the contractor; once they're done they transfer it back. Which means you're supposed to delete the fonts until they transfer them back to you (and they're supposed to delete them at the end). Of course even if this process is legal the results are likely to be unethical.


MrJu5to's picture

Thanks hhp

Yeah right, well that's going to be right PIA and pretty expensive. And I assume both parties would be liable for breach.

We might just have to rasterize everything that leaves the place now so fonts don't need to be supplied.


David Vereschagin's picture

You wouldn't be covered by my EULA, nor anybody else’s I’m familiar with. But how many fonts are you using on these projects? It’s hard to imagine a $200 project would inflate to thousands of dollars even if the freelancers were required to purchase their own licences for the required fonts, which they would bill back to you as a cost of the project.

As an alternative, you don’t have to rasterize, just convert any required special type to outlines and supply the outlines to your guns-for-hire.


Anthony Noel's picture

Several distributors offer Photoshop plug ins that allow you to browse and preview their collections right in your Photoshop artwork.

Of course, you can't output or rasterise those layers, but if you were to integrate use of that plug in into your in-house workflow too, it might not matter.

These tools should be well suited to webfont workflows as well, where developers working with static sketches of website layouts needn't buy desktop licenses, only the webfont license.


JamesM's picture

A possible workaround would be to set up some additional workstations and have them do their work at your facility using computers that contain the licensed fonts.

However some freelancers might not be willing to do that, and also you run the risk that from the government's standpoint they are now part-time employees rather than freelancers, which has financial and bookkeeping ramifications.

5star's picture

Of course, you can't output or rasterise those layers

There's a work around for that.

@JamesM , isn't there a client you can download to allow remote access? OP loads everything onto their own computer and allows the designer to remotely access the work station?


MrJu5to's picture

Thanks all!

The work onsite thing, is exactly that, a financial ramification, plus these guys prefer to work remotely, some are even interstate.

The plugins from foundries for the more common fonts would be a good workaround too.

5Star - Remote access to our FontAgent server, would be a great option, I do have enough licences (software and font) to cover them, the only concern is that the fontagent server still downloads the database locally, so in turn fonts are now at a different location, hence break EULA. Am I right?

I think the easiest less painful way might be for us to "convert to smart object" text layers before we send it to the devs to build/cut-up. Then technically as long as they don't edit those smart objects, they wont need the typeface.

Karl Stange's picture

the only concern is that the fontagent server still downloads the database locally, so in turn fonts are now at a different location, hence break EULA. Am I right?

Yes, you would still be in a position where you needed to license the external users.

hrant's picture

You know what would be cool? Being able to use a web-based service to design stuff for a client using their fonts without having to buy them forever.


5star's picture

Yes, you would still be in a position where you needed to license the external users.

Karl, I must be in stupid mode today (I can't stand Tuesdays btw) what is the big difference? I mean if I come over to your work station and use your computer - or I access your computer remotely?

Shouldn't the EULA be concerned to where and whom the license resides?

Seriously, if 20 people come over to your work station and use your computer shouldn't that in itself violate the EULA? Having access to your computer -remotely or not - isn't the object of a licence agreement. The object of the license agreement should be concerned with - where - the font resides*.

Or else why allow 20 people to come over and use your computer?? I'm confused...

*And to that I think fonts should be able to track IP residency.


Karl Stange's picture

Neil, in the case of most foundries, licensing is based on a requirement for each computer or device hosting the fonts to have a license. Additionally, licenses are usually (though not always) arranged on the basis of a specific user or company, regardless of whether the license is for a single user or 10,000. Sometimes that restriction is geographical as well. A freelancer, third party or other entity not named on the license would therefore require their own license if the font(s) are going to be resident on their computer or device.

In the case above I was specifically responding to Justin's question about distribution through a remote server tool or third party access to a font management database. This scenario implies that the remote user is accessing the font(s) on their computer, which is not part of the licensed entity. What you are describing is a scenario in which a user is remotely accessing and using fonts on a licensed computer, which means (to my mind, in this context) that the fonts remain resident on the licensed computer and are not moved to the third party computer.

To your other point: if you have a scenario in which a computer has a licensed copy of the font software on it, why should it matter who uses that computer? As long as they are not modifying the font software, duplicating it for re-distribution, producing work or embedding the font file in ways expressly prohibited by the EULA or for an individual, group or entity other than that licensed to use the font(s), it does not matter who uses the computer.

5star's picture

Thanks Karl, as a freelance graphic designer I'm glad I just buy fonts as my clients need them. EULA ins and outs are something I might have to consider if and when I ever finish up the half dozen or so modern display faces I've been toying with over the years.

Remote access to a someones work station seems doable then as long as the font remains on that work station's computer. I'm not up on cloud services but I imagine there is a all-in-one studio for paying users. Adobe software coupled with Myfonts inventory ...that sort of service could be quite marketable.


MrJu5to's picture

5Star you may be onto something there. Cloud based Font server. Restricted by number of users. Lets face it, the web is making the world a smaller place. And it's becoming very common for work, files and ideas to be a global one rather than limited to a desk in a studio somewhere.

If you are buying 5 licences. why, really, should it matter how those licences are utilised. As long as there are not more that 5 users at any given 1 time. Even so, im sure some sort of additional licence purchase could be created based on a cloud based server. As it has happened with the invent of font servers and now the webfont.

Right, im off to the patent office. Product launch party invites to be circulated shortly (designed using system fonts of course!). All your names are on the door already - bar is open!

hrant's picture

You guys saw this, right?


5star's picture

That's only have the goods needed for the graphic/web/tattoo designer(s) hrant. Couple SkyFonts with Adobe CS7+ ... now we're talkin'!!


dberlow's picture

"...the invent of font servers and now the webfont."

Now there' an idea! Instead of making your sites out of static unsearchable graphic bricks from photoshop that need endless font management and expensive freelancers to keep up with, you could make them using live webfonts!

oldnick's picture

You know what would be cool? Being able to use a web-based service to design stuff for a client using their fonts without having to buy them forever.

Yes, it would be very cool, especially if the font or fonts in question were automatically uninstalled at the end of each session.

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