November 19th, 2014 by Richard Turgeon
Today we’re proud to announce our newest release of Universal Type Server, which solves common font distribution and synchronization issues and helps mitigate licensing risks for teams.
No matter how large your organization’s collection is, Type Server helps you centralize, synchronize, organize and distribute your font libraries while offering secure, reliable font management and compliance for your team.
January 13th, 2014 by Jim Kidwell
If you’re a designer, your love affair with fonts probably began a long time ago. Great fonts are the lifeblood of beautifully crafted design.
Even with all of the joy your fonts can bring you, unfortunately if they are misused, you can get yourself, and even your company into trouble.
We analyzed the results of our recent survey of designers, web developers, and those who use fonts in their creative work, and unfortunately have concluded that many of you are likely at risk from font misuse.
Join me for a webcast on January 21st where I will cover the top mistakes that many designers make with font usage, and ways that you can avoid them.
Register for the webcast here. (If you can’t make it, if you register we’ll send you a link to the recording afterward.)
This presentation includes:
- An exploration of the evolving perception of font licensing by creative individuals, the past, present and future
- How the expanding pool of designers who desire quality typography affects this perception
- How you can keep yourself, your employer and coworkers safe from font use missteps
Recently we surveyed thousands of creative professionals to learn how they used fonts in their workflow.
I recently compiled the results into a report that summarizes the findings. These include:
- More than 50% of designers have had their toe in the font piracy waters – 59% of designers have traded fonts with others and 50% of designers have brought outside fonts into the office.
- One third of designers “locate” copies of fonts online without the appropriate licensing.
- More than 80% of designers don’t regularly read font licenses, and 78% of designers who do read find them confusing.
- More than 60% of designers don’t have a clear understanding of what they can do with the fonts they license.
- 57% of designers are not clear on their organization’s font licensing policies.
Most of all, designers just want to get their job done, and do it in the fastest, best way possible. So, while not all of these stats are surprising, not all of them are necessarily the designers who are at fault.
Read the full report to see all of the stats, and learn how your team can take steps to avoid running afoul of font licensing.
September 16th, 2013 by Jim Kidwell
A recent anti-illegal immigration campaign that many have called racist, is now under fire for the misuse of a font. The “Go Home or Face Arrest” campaign apparently uses the Plane Crash font.
While it is widely downloadable online as a “free for personal use” font, it’s EULA listed on Fabien Delange’s website wmkart.com expressly prohibits the commercial use of the font without payment.
As Mr. Delange tells BBC News, “My fonts are free for personal use only, if you want to use them for work you have to purchase the licence on my website. I create typefaces and that’s how I earn my living. I have absolutely no way to control who’s using my fonts except for freelance artists that play the game, buy the licence online and get a licence agreement from me.”
Mr. Delange is now looking to resolve the issue with the office, but hasn’t taken litigation off the table just yet.
This is an area where graphic designers and agencies can easily get themselves into trouble. If designers surf the web downloading random fonts that they think are “free” and then use them in projects, they are inevitably opening themselves up to this type of trouble.
To keep yourself safe, maintain a collection of fonts where you understand the licensing terms, and keep your collection clean. Universal Type Server and Suitcase Fusion can help. Download a trial, or give us a call to chat more about how we can help.
March 2nd, 2013 by Thomas Phinney
The latest unlicensed-font-usage lawsuit was filed yesterday in New York City. Wisconsin-based Font Diner is suing Mixpanel, a mobile-app-analytics company in San Francisco, for font copyright infringement. The company alleges that Mixpanel used their typeface Coffee Service, designed by Stuart Sandler, embedding it in a Tumblr theme which they made available to all and sundry, which was not permitted by their license. The lawsuit asks for $1-million-plus for copyright infringement, and another $1-million-plus for breach of contract.
Yes, sticking a font you don’t own into an app or theme so that it can generate custom titles and headings on demand requires it be properly licensed. Then proceeding to give everyone and their dog access to the font makes it an even bigger problem, because you are giving away somebody else’s font software.
You can see the current version of the offending “Showroom” theme on Tumblr, using a similar but clearly different typeface. (The lawsuit acknowledges that Mixpanel has changed the theme to no longer use Coffee Service.)
However, in the court filing, once can find a screen grab of the earlier version using Coffee Service. (Sorry for degradation due to multiple translations here.)
From reading the lawsuit, the Tumblr theme uses the font converted into Cufón format, which is not allowed by the font license—even Font Diner’s web font license specifically disallows use of Cufón. Plus, even if that use was allowed, that would not make it okay to give away the converted font or allow any number of interested others to use it.
The lawyer in the Font Diner v Mixpanel case is the ubiquitous Frank Martinez, who does legal work for many type foundries, including litigation. You may know him from everybody suing NBC (there have been three distinct lawsuits against various branches of NBC since 2009), the Rick Santorum website lawsuit, and so forth.
As I happen to have been in New York this past week, I actually had dinner with Mr Martinez this past Tuesday, to get his perspective on many aspects of font lawsuits. Although we didn’t discuss this case in particular, it is interesting to see how it fits into the bigger picture.
The Mixpanel lawsuit claims that Mixpanel refuses to license the font for the use already made, or otherwise compensate Font Diner for the usage.
This is an important point. When talking font lawsuits, a lot of people seem to have the idea that individuals and companies making fonts troll the world looking for end user infringement and sue whenever they find it. But from my discussions over the years, both with those litigating parties and Mr Martinez, the overwhelming majority of cases involve the company or type designer approaching the offending company and asking them if they would please just pay for the legit license for the use they were already making. It is usually only complete refusal to make things legit that causes a lawsuit. I remember one high profile case of recent years in which the foundry told me that the lawsuit really just represented the latest in an ongoing series of infringements by the defendant over a decade, with constant and repeated overtures by the foundry for them to get legal, to no avail.
I am not, of course, claiming that every single font legal action undertaken has merit. I have seen a type foundry’s lawyer send a cease-and-desist letter to a company, in which they alleged unlicensed use of two fonts. Of the two fonts in question, one was in a bitmapped logo designed by an outside designer who was legitimately licensed, and the other font was not even being used—it was a similar typeface. They told the foundry’s lawyer as much, and never heard from him again.
Of course, if you are a company with more than a very small handful of designers, it might be hard for you to even know whether you do or do not have a font on one or more of your computers somewhere. That’s the kind of thing that our Universal Type Server software can be an immense help with. It can track which fonts are in use across a team or organization, control who has access to which of those fonts, and help track license information as well. Check it out.
The Extensis headquarters are firmly rooted in the land of fixed-gear bicycles and hipster mustaches here in Portland, Oregon. So what do you do if you’re struggling with fonts and digital assets halfway across the country in the midwest? Not to worry, we have you covered with our Chicago offices that serve the central region of the United States and Canada.
In our Chicago offices you’ll find two creative workflow experts helping companies maintain license compliance and improve their workflows using Extensis font and digital asset management solutions:
Regional Business Manager
- Favorite color: Green
- Latest book: Confessor and Good is Not Enough
- Ideal vacation spot: Hawaii – beaches, ocean fun, food, sun.
- During my commute: Lately I’ve been going through Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International and Grimnoir Chronicles series.
- Favorite color: Orange
- Latest book: OS X Server Essentials
- Ideal vacation spot: A sandy beach with sun.
- During the commute: The Dan Patrick Show.
Both enjoy long walks on the beach and ensuring that font and digital asset management projects are successfully completed on time and under budget.
To learn more about what Michael and Matthew can do for you, please check out our Professional Services page.
February 14th, 2013 by Jim Kidwell
The Extensis headquarters are firmly rooted in the land of microbrews and skinny jeans here in Portland, Oregon. So what do you do if you’re struggling with fonts and digital assets across the country on or near the east coast? Not to worry, we have you covered with our NYC offices that serve the eastern region of the United States and Canada.
In our NYC office you’ll find three creative workflow experts helping companies maintain license compliance and improve their workflows using Extensis font and digital asset management solutions:
Jeremy Godfrey, Regional Business Manager
- Favorite color: Blue
- Latest book: Maui Revealed
- Ideal vacation spot: Maui or St. Croix… depends on if I’m departing from PDX or NYC.
- During my commute: I read the NY Post.
James Grace, Senior Systems Engineer
- Favorite color:Neon Orange
- Latest book: Travels
- Ideal vacation spot: The Beach in Cancun, Mexico
- During the commute: I listen to PopTron : SomaFM
Chris Chen, Systems Engineer
- Favorite color: Black
- Latest book: Start with Why
- Ideal vacation spot: Maldives
- During the commute: Flo Rida, David Guetta, Rihanna
All three enjoy long walks on the beach and ensuring that font and digital asset management projects are successfully completed on time and under budget.
To learn more about what Jeremy, James, and Chris can do for you, please check out our Professional Services page.
September 25th, 2012 by Jim Kidwell
Last week, James T. Edmonson, creator of Wisdom Script found his typeface used on a Romney campaign t-shirt. The unfortunate rub? He has no record of anyone from the Romney campaign purchasing a commercial use license of the font.
When contacted, the Romney campaign responded appropriately, and took down the t-shirt in question. Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul responded, “We take licensing matters seriously. We are looking into the matter.” An encouraging response.
Design work can be an exhilarating experience, especially if you’re creating political work that could be seen by thousands, even millions of people. You want to have the best tools to get the job done, and this includes a wide variety of fonts.
With projects like this, it is essential that you ensure that you’ve purchased the proper licensing of the fonts used in the project.
You can get yourself in trouble by:
- Using a non-commercial free font in a commercial project without purchasing the commercial license.
- Using standard desktop fonts as web fonts without purchasing a web license.
- Not reading and understanding the licensing of fonts in your collection.
Previous presidential campaigns have also gotten themselves into trouble as well. Republican candidate Rick Santorum was also caught up when his design agency, Raise Digital, converted a desktop font for use on the web, resulting in a lawsuit for $2 million.
Best thing that you can do for you and your team is:
- Get your fonts organized using a font manager. For teams, a server-based font management solution is critical.
- Purchase enough licenses for your entire team
- Fully understand the terms of your font licenses
- If you’re not sure if your font is licensed, remove it from your workflow until licensed copies are obtained.
Learn more about font management on the Extensis website. If you have a few minutes why not check out our previous post on finding fonts online. We detail some great resources on finding the best fonts for a variety of applications.
July 25th, 2012 by Jim Kidwell
Font licensing. It’s something that many people don’t think about in their everyday lives. Yet if you’re in any creative field, it’s critical and potentially costly if you don’t. During a recent webcast, I surveyed the audience and asked whether they knew the font licensing terms for all of the fonts in their collection. These were the results.
Do you know the font licensing terms of all of your fonts?
This recent webcast included participants who were across the creative spectrum, from individual solo designers all the way up to those in corporate creative teams. Considering this mixed audience, I wasn’t surprised by the results too much. The push for font license management and compliance is something that has started from the corporate level and is steadily pushing its way down to the solo designer. This is apparent when comparing this data with that from a previous survey of primarily corporate, large workgroups where almost half of the audience indicated that they
read font licenses
read font licenses. With some very high profile and multi-million dollar lawsuits surrounding fonts and their appropriate licensing (see NBC Universal, Rick Santorum, Wizarding World of Harry Potter) we can see a trend where it’s important for designers at every level to understand what they can and cannot do with their fonts. Managing your font licenses is an ongoing process, and one that many may find a bit daunting. My advice is to just get started examining with what you know now about your collection and collect info from there. Locate your original paperwork & digital files where possible. When that’s not possible, connect with your type foundry to find out what their licensing permits. Don’t just assume that your license permits all uses. Remember, if we’re doing creative work, we want our work to be noticed. And being in the spotlight, it’s going to stick out like a sore thumb if you aren’t using a licensed font. You wouldn’t want to embarrass yourself or your client with a lawsuit, so it’s best to do the right thing from the start. Universal Type Server can help you manage font licenses with your team. Contact us for more information.
July 20th, 2012 by Jim Kidwell
This Wednesday, House Industries (Brand Design Co.) filed a $3.5 million claim against NBC Universal for alleged misuse of their font Chalet on the website www.nbcuni.com.
The key to this lawsuit is the licensing. A division of NBC Universal apparently purchased a number of copies for desktop use. Where the complaint lies is that allegedly NBC Universal converted the font for web use via an online tool, which is outside the scope of the font license.
Using fonts on websites is something that many creative groups want to do. It’s at the forefront of web design, and has many benefits for content management, SEO, readability and for overall design aesthetics. Unfortunately most fonts aren’t by default licensed for use on the web. This is because when fonts are used in web sites, they actually reside on the web server, and the font software is physically downloaded to each user when they view the page.
This means that the infringement isn’t just for converting the font to a different format. It’s also for the number of people who visited the offending site and received a copy of the font to display the page – estimated at 20,000 visitors. That’s where the $3.5 million dollar claim comes from – the original price of the font multiplied by the number of downloads.
So, how do you keep yourself safe from these types of lawsuits.
Firstly, read all of your font licenses when you purchase them. If you don’t understand something, clarify with the type foundry. Many of these shops are fairly small (sometimes even just one or two people) and they will very likely be happy to help you understand what you’re getting.
Second, for font use on the web, use a font service such as WebINK or be sure when purchasing fonts to explicitly include web licensing. If the font that you’re purchasing doesn’t support web usage, there’s likely an alternate from a reputable web font service that will meet the need. There are benefits to using a web font service beyond merely font selection, and you can read more on www.webink.com.
Finally, manage all of your fonts and licenses using a server-based font manager like Universal Type Server. If you’ve got a creative team, it’s important to understand which fonts you have licensed, and what those font licenses are for. With server-based font managers, you can store all of your fonts and licenses centrally so users can have access to your collection.
As always, if you have any questions, I’m happy to answer what I can in the comments below, or shoot me an email using the contact form.