Font Licensing: it can be confusing, opaque, and arbitrary. Why should the fonts you licenses cover certain scenarios but not others?
Traditionally, what this means is that fonts are licensed à la carte, with each type of usage as an additional fee to a basic license that covers things like static desktop use. On the outside, this seems straightforward, you pay for what you need and skip what you don’t. However, there’s usually a catch: you have to know how many views your website gets every month, or how many people download your app, or another metric. This leads to a lot of questions and work. “Was the license for that font based on the number of active users or the number of downloads?” “Did the broadcaster only install the fonts on the allowable number of devices?” “Do subdomains count as different websites?” “What if I’m designing for a client and I don’t know how many monthly users they expect or whether they will update their license later on?”
It’s easy enough to email the foundry for answers to these questions but what if you have several fonts from different foundries? It’s up to you to make sure you don’t fall behind on any of these metrics and keep track of which foundry uses which metric and what their ceilings are before you need to upgrade.
After a lot of feedback, we’ve made the decision to simplify our licensing structure. Instead of watching metrics, or double-checking licenses, we would rather you be making things. That’s why we are changing our license to one metric: a range in which your annual gross revenue falls.
Looking at several different metrics, this is the most equitable, in our opinion. The number of employees can be used to determine company size but it doesn’t always paint a clear picture: A 10-person company can look a lot different depending on where in the world they are located. A small tech company in San Fransisco and a family-owned restaurant can both have the same number of employees but they can have very different revenue. Businesses with seasonal employees or temp employees can make it hard to know exactly what number to choose.
By using your annual gross revenue, it’s easy to know how to stay compliant. If your revenue changes, your license is still valid. If you’re just starting your business or have one that’s been around for less than a year, you’ll have an estimate of what your projected gross revenue will be, just use that.
Now it doesn’t matter if you have 1 website or 100. Or if you develop an app years after you license the font. You don’t need to monitor any monthly users or worry about whether text in a TikTok video is a static or dynamic social media use.
For freelance and third-party designers, you would purchase the font files based on the size of your studio. You can then make work for any of your clients without repurchasing a license for each client. If the client wants the actual font files, they would need a license relative to the size of their business.
Our hope is that by simplifying licensing, you can spend less time negotiating font prices with your clients or your purchasing department and more time designing.
You can read the new license here.