Advertising agencies and font licensing . . .
Font licensing terms are complex and confusing.
Font licensing has changed dramatically over the past 10 years.
With confusion comes risk of misuse that could lead to litigation.
Fonts are used in virtually every media that exists. However, fonts are perhaps the most taken for granted tool in any creative toolbox. Imagine your retention results if all but Arial and Times New Roman were removed from your workflow.
Font licensing is extremely confusing.
In the early days of “desktop publishing” up to around 2008 there was generally only one model of font licensing called a “desktop” font license. This license was the basic license for design and print and was all that was required in our industry.
Since 2008, newer technologies have created more font licensing models. The old desktop licensing model is still the standard for design and print, but font licensing for the web, digital banner ads, mobile apps, web server use and e-books are now very much a part of the landscape.
Knowing which model(s) of license you require and exactly who (brand, agency, or both) needs to be licensed are key considerations.
Inadvertent misuse of fonts by a brand or agency can potentially put both parties at risk of expensive litigation. Brands fully expect that the agencies who create their brands and deliverables are extremely well versed in the ins and outs of font licensing.
Further adding to the confusion, there are hundreds of font foundries and font designers, each with their own unique terms and conditions stipulating exactly how their fonts can (or cannot) be used. These terms and conditions are defined in their End User License Agreements (called EULAs). It’s a big mistake to assume that EULAs from all font foundries are the same – they’re not. While some foundries offer “generous” or “simple” licensing allowing wider use of their fonts, others can be significantly more restrictive.
Language (legalese) in EULAs can be intimidating and difficult to understand unless you have font licensing experience and knowledge of the technologies and terms behind the font licensing models.
Font foundries and font designers expect full compliance with their EULAs. Licensees must be prepared to read, sign, and abide by the EULA of each and every font they purchase.
With all the confusion around font licensing, how do you know if you’re licensed properly?
Font Shield can help mitigate your risk.
Neither a font foundry nor font designers, Font Shield has extensive font licensing experience and can help brands and agencies navigate their font licensing needs and mitigate any pitfalls so they can get on with the business of selling their products and services.