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.
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.