HomeMissionFeaturesContactsInsightLinks
 

Frequently Asked Questions

Adapted from Emigre Inc.'s FAQ with their kind permission

I love your fonts, but I can't afford to buy them...

Don't fonts grow on trees?

How am I supposed to know where a typeface comes from, and if it's shareware?

Why aren't typefaces credited?

What if I don't like some letters in a font of yours, can I change them?

I need a font format that you don't support...

Can't I use pieces of your fonts, just like musicians sample music?

I bought one of your fonts, can't I do whatever I want with it?

What about my service bureau?

How far can I extend my font license?

What are the implications of digital documents?

What is the future of type design?

 

I like the fonts I see in font catalogs, but I can't afford to buy them...

Typeface designers invest much time, effort and financial resources to develop and produce original typefaces. It is this investment that makes original fonts so desirable.

Most fonts are licensed from living designers who rely on this royalty income for their livelihood. The royalty is typically a percentage figure of the total price, which includes the font publishers' marketing costs and overhead. We hope that you can appreciate the necessity to compensate designers for their creative efforts.


Don't fonts grow on trees?

Typeface designers spend months, even years, developing each design. (A study of typographic history reveals that some designers have actually devoted their entire lives to the conceptualization, manufacture and refinement of a single design!)

If designers are not compensated for their efforts, they will not be able to invest in creating new designs for people like you to enjoy in the future.

Before the age of personal computers, barely more than a decade ago, type designers relied on typesetting equipment manufacturers to fund the development of their designs. Typesetters purchased fonts from the equipment manufacturers and the end users of type, graphic designers and publishers, in turn, compensated the typesetter by paying for the setting of their text.

The personal computer democratized the manufacture, distribution and usage of fonts. For the first time in history, it is the users who must purchase fonts because they have been empowered with the ability to set their own type.

The concept of licensing the usage of fonts is a new one for designers, writers, publishers and other new found font users, but it is a crucially important one if the field of type design is to remain alive.


How am I supposed to know where a typeface comes from, and if it's shareware?

The first thing you can do is check the "info" or "about" portions of the font to see if there is any copyright notice. Also, check for a "Trademark" or "Registered" symbol in font name; this is another way that authors claim ownership.

However, the absence of a notice does not signify that the work is public domain, nor is such a notice required by law to retain ownership.

If you are unsure as to the shareware status, check to see if there is a notice with the font that states that it is shareware, and the conditions under which it can be used. If such a notice is not available, and you don't know where the font came from, it is a big risk to assume that it is shareware. That's why shareware producers always make a point to include the "readme" files and documentation. If someone passes the fonts along without the documentation, trouble begins. Even if you get a font through a newsgroup posting, it does not automatically mean it is shareware either. People make mistakes.

So, the test is simple: if you can't tell it is shareware, assume it isn't.


Why aren't typefaces credited?

The anonymity of typeface origins and their designers is an unfortunate situation that has become increasingly detrimental to the field of typeface design.

Before the democratization of type, which resulted from the introduction of personal computer technology, just over a decade ago, there existed an established collection of typefaces that were familiar to graphic designers, typesetters, and others who worked with type. The introduction of new typefaces was a slow process that allowed ample time for the type community to become accustomed to the new designs.

Because everyone in the industry could identify typefaces, graphic designers and typesetters had grown accustomed to leaving out credits for the typeface names or typeface designers, although they did credit their own work as well as that of photographers, printers and others whose work was included in the design piece.

Today, typefaces are being introduced into the market-place faster than any one can keep up with the selection. Therefore giving credit to the typeface names and their designers whenever other design or manufacturing credits are listed, has become necessary for the community's information and education. When you purchase an original typeface, crediting its name and designer is a way of protecting your investment in the font user license. By giving credit, you will help support the acknowledgment of origin and intellectual property rights.


What if I don't like some letters in a font of yours, can I change them?

Please understand that we have nothing against experimentation and the customizing of fonts for private use. The problem comes about when such end products are sold and or given away for free, under the guise of "new" designs, and usually without proper credit to their true origins.

Many font licenses allow the user to alter the characters in a font as long as the user has purchased the appropriate user license and the altered fonts continue to be used in accordance with this license. In addition, the altered fonts must retain the original copyright notice.

In these cases, when you alter a font, the resulting font(s) will remain the property of the original copyright owner. Legally these adaptations are considered 'derivative works,' and as such they remain the property of their inventor. Others who intend to use your customized fonts will first have to obtain their own licenses of the original fonts from which they are derived.


I need a font format that you don't support...

Most font licenses allow the user to convert the fonts to other formats as long as the user has purchased the appropriate user license and the converted fonts continue to be used in accordance with this license. In addition, the converted fonts must retain the original copyright notice.

If your format conversion is to be performed by a third party, simply present the user license and proof of registration to the converter to make them aware of the licensing terms and commercial nature.

In addition font publishers would appreciate it if you inform them of your planned conversion at the time of purchase, so they can track which formats are useful to you.


Can't I use pieces of your fonts, just like musicians sample music?

Musicians who sample music must get permission and often pay a licensing fee for the sampling. This gives the owner of the music the opportunity to turn down the request, or require a fee for the usage. This also ensures that the original creator will receive credit for their authorship.

If you are interested in sampling fonts, you should submit a formal request to the font publisher.


I bought one of your fonts, can't I do whatever I want with it?

The purchase of font software from most font manufacturers entitles the user to make use of the software in accordance with the licensing terms. A font purchase does not entail any transfer of ownership in the software, intellectual property, etc.

In brief, the license allows the user to print the characters in the font to one printer, such as a laser printer of film typesetter. The license also allows the user to rasterize the characters on up to five devices such as video screen displays at one location. This printing or rasterizing is limited to the number of devices stated in the license. (Multiple device upgrades are available.) The license does not allow the user to copy, embed, or in any way distribute the font software.


What about my service bureau?

The preferred solution when outputting your files at a service bureau is to create PostScript files, also known as "print to disk" files. The service bureau need not have a copy of the fonts in order to print PostScript files; in addition they accelerate typesetting, and help prevent errors. Your service bureau can assist you in the particularities of creating PostScript files from your application.

If it becomes necessary for your service bureau to install a copy of the fonts on their equipment, technically they do need to purchase their own copy. Keep in mind that if you provide a service bureau with a copy of the fonts you are legally responsible for safeguarding their proper use.


How far can I extend my font license?

Multi-user licenses can be extended to a certain number of machines which are operated by the licensee at one location, in accordance with the licenses' terms. Other parties, including affiliates, agents, subsidiaries, clients or advertisers, will require their own licenses.


What are the implications of digital documents?

Web sites and CD-ROM titles can feature images made using our fonts, but the fonts themselves may not be distributed. 'Embeddable' font formats like Adobe Acrobat's PDF or Bitstream's TrueDoc actually require the duplication of the fonts; these seriously compromise the security of all typefaces, and some publishers specifically exclude them from your license. We would refer you to your fonts' license agreement for details.


What is the future of type design?

The art and craft of typeface design is currently headed for extinction due to the illegal proliferation of font software, piracy, and general disregard for proper licensing etiquette. You can begin to solve this problem by properly licensing your usage of each and every font that you have in your possession. If you have copies of fonts for which you did not purchase a license, please, throw the fonts away, or better yet, contact the manufacturer and come clean.

Top
Return to Features index


Button Copyright ©1997-2013 by TypeRight. All rights reserved. All trade names and trademarks are the property of their respective owners and are used here either with permission or in an editorial fashion only. Email us at typeright@typeright.org.