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NBC Sued by Font Bureau

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How many of you get calls saying "Bob at edit company X hasn't got font Y, can you email it over?"

 

How many of you say yes? Or do you suggest they buy the font - even if the pressure is on?

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How many of you get calls saying "Bob at edit company X hasn't got font Y, can you email it over?"

 

How many of you say yes? Or do you suggest they buy the font - even if the pressure is on?

 

I get those calls about 2-3 times a year and I always make up some bullshit about it being 'DRM locked' and it won't work on their machines. I also tend to include the link to where it can be purchased. Also, typically, I never get a reply.

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I think it's pretty weird to treat a font like a piece of licensed software, where you're buying a font license for each "seat". It seems like you would treat it more like a piece of stock footage or something, where you buy the rights to use it, like throughout your organization, or throughout a campaign... Pretty interested to see what the court decides here actually.

 

Fonts are definitely one thing I've never thought twice about sharing or asking for if it's needed for a project. Fonts definitely seem to be married to a specific project more than they are like a software. If a font was purchased for a project, I've just always treated it like stock footage... it stays with the project, and it goes to whoever else needs it for the project. In most cases it never gets used again.

 

Either way, the font conglomerates have a pretty tough battle ahead of them. I'd much rather be designing typefaces for commissions than trying to mass market a font and suing everyone that doesn't buy a thousand licenses. What's to prevent someone like iStockphoto from making a typeface microstock site with a bunch of knock-off fonts? All of a sudden the Font Bureau business model will revolve around lawsuits (like the RIAA).

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I think it's pretty weird to treat a font like a piece of licensed software…

If you email a PSD file to your client and he can't open it, what do you do? Ask them to find a machine that has Photoshop installed in their organisation or zip up the CS4 installer with a crack and buzz it over on yousend it? Of course you don't because it's software, that's illegal and unethical.

 

Commercial fonts are licensed software. It's not weird, that how it is.

 

where you're buying a font license for each "seat". It seems like you would treat it more like a piece of stock footage or something, where you buy the rights to use it, like throughout your organization, or throughout a campaign...

 

Rights-managed footage and photos are charged according to how far and wide you want to display the image to the public. The stock libary don't really care how many people are working on an image before it is published.

 

Fonts are software and you get charged according to how many people need to operate that software at any given time. I think the current system is value for money. You pay once per machine and you have the rights indefinately. Imagine if you had to pay according to the scope of usage Helvetica was going to get over the years after you bought it!

Pretty interested to see what the court decides here actually.

NBC will probably settle out of court or risk having to recall and remake all the material that contains the fonts in question.

Fonts are definitely one thing I've never thought twice about sharing or asking for if it's needed for a project.

Ha! Do you work at NBC?

Fonts definitely seem to be married to a specific project more than they are like a software. If a font was purchased for a project, I've just always treated it like stock footage... it stays with the project, and it goes to whoever else needs it for the project. In most cases it never gets used again.

Well this is perhaps a different way of looking at things to the way font companies see it. They might expect you to buy the Helvetica Neue family in say, 1996 and have it still serve you very well today. This would be after 10 versions of Photoshop have come and gone.

 

A typeface from Interstate for example costs $40. Even if you buy it for one project and throw it away. Is that cost too high? It is probably the only thing in a normal week that you would buy that another designer. Why not help him towards his next font?

Either way, the font conglomerates have a pretty tough battle ahead of them. I'd much rather be designing typefaces for commissions than trying to mass market a font and suing everyone that doesn't buy a thousand licenses.

 

Would you really? Is that a better way to make money? Even without going to court I think the companies do fairly good business from their honest customers.

 

What's to prevent someone like iStockphoto from making a typeface microstock site with a bunch of knock-off fonts?

 

The small issue of quality. A knock-off is a knock-off right? Be it a Gucci bag or a fake leather jacket. NBC chose the fonts they did due to their pedigree, history of development and their robustness of engineering both visual and technical. There are already lots of knock-off fonts, they are called free fonts. A business that is hard to compete with.

 

All of a sudden the Font Bureau business model will revolve around lawsuits (like the RIAA).

 

Consumers are going to continue to enjoying illegal downloads of music. Selling music to individuals as a business is at the end of the line, it's true. But I don't hear a lot about advertisers and broadcasters trying to secretly use the latest Black Eyed Peas on a spot without licensing it from Universal.

 

It has been easy to distribute the tiny font files for years even before the internet just like MP3s. However, fonts are software that are used to communicate and market things in public by money making companies. Because of that I think the font companies are going to be OK.

 

My message is, if you are working and making money, support your fellow designer by buying the font each time.

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I get those calls about 2-3 times a year and I always make up some bullshit about it being 'DRM locked' and it won't work on their machines. I also tend to include the link to where it can be purchased. Also, typically, I never get a reply.

 

I think this is good. Have a gold star.

 

gold_star.jpg

 

The DRM thing is plausible. Any other ideas for excuses?

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Clients are always sending me fonts to use. I highly doubt they're buying licenses for each of these fonts.

 

It shouldn't matter to you if they are buying licenses or not. It is you that needs to have a license if you are the one that's using it.

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My message is, if you are working and making money, support your fellow designer by buying the font each time.

 

It may legally be software, but I don't think that's not a good way to look at it. I think it has a lot more in common with stock than software. It's not interactive, it's basically a series of vector images. I realize that's just like my opinion man, but I feel like they'd have more luck taking some premium fonts and handling them like rights managed stock.

 

/hidden big lebowski quote

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You make an interesting point, Beav...consider music, for example. If it's licensed as a needle-drop (do they still use that term?) for one particular project, and priced appropriately according to both parties, then there's no need to license the music on every computer that touches that project. The way you liken it to stock photography is interesting.

 

This is a very large scale example of how things could best be settled contractually in the beginning; instead of simply buying a seat license to a font, maybe contacting Font Bureau and licensing it for use on a year's worth of Conan promos. Then it wouldn't matter who uses the font on that project as long as they're acting within the license agreement on behalf of NBC. There's the issue of policing use of the font outside of the scope of the agreement, but we've been shown that it's quite possible to spot a major network's use of fonts they don't have a license for.

 

Cf

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My message is, if you are working and making money, support your fellow designer by buying the font each time.

 

so what you're saying is for each project i'd have to buy the font again, even if I bought it already? So if I used it in 3 projects I'd buy it 3 separate times? You're saying Fonts are software, but you wouldn't don't go out and buy Photoshop at every use.

 

If you're working on a collaborative project and you pass a font to someone else that you hold the license to, is that wrong? Now if the person who received the font goes off ans uses it somewhere else...that is wrong.

 

Maybe i'm just not understanding correctly.

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so what you're saying is for each project i'd have to buy the font again, even if I bought it already? So if I used it in 3 projects I'd buy it 3 separate times? You're saying Fonts are software, but you wouldn't don't go out and buy Photoshop at every use.

 

No, you have misunderstood, sorry. You buy it once, exactly like Photoshop, not 3 times or whatever.

 

If you're working on a collaborative project and you pass a font to someone else that you hold the license to, is that wrong? Now if the person who received the font goes off ans uses it somewhere else...that is wrong.

 

You got that bit right. I am not an expert on this but this is how I understand it (at least in the UK).

 

You never own a font. You simply buy a license to use it. You pay and agree to be bound by the license terms in exchange for use of the font.

 

The agreement limits the location of the fonts use. Commonly a license covers one computer at one location. You could perhaps move a font around your office uninstalling and reinstalling as you go. However duplicating it and using it at the same time on two machines may contravene the license agreement.

 

Copying it to another location will certainly be against the agreement. Just like driving a car with no license and telling the cops your friend James back at home has one so you thought it would be OK.

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Maybe they're just 2m in debt...

they'll just get a much smaller settlement. soon at huge companies there will be HR-required presentations on proper font usage (legally, not aesthetically, unfortunately) right after the sexual harassment orientation.

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they'll just get a much smaller settlement. soon at huge companies there will be HR-required presentations on proper font usage (legally, not aesthetically, unfortunately) right after the sexual harassment orientation.

 

Oh man I would love to write that.

 

Evil Jim: Interstate Bold Oblique looks terrific on everything! Haha! Look at how much I am using it!

 

Pleasant Bob: Boy that does look good, when did you get a licence for that?

 

Evil Jim: License? Who buys licenses for fonts?! LOL!

 

Pleasant Bob: I do Jim. I do. [Ashamed look]

 

Evil Jim: Oh no... I know that look... no... don't send me there!

 

Pleasant Bob: Yes. You must. It's the only way.

 

[Cut to Clockwork Orange rehab center]

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Oh man I would love to write that.

 

Evil Jim: Interstate Bold Oblique looks terrific on everything! Haha! Look at how much I am using it!

 

Pleasant Bob: Boy that does look good, when did you get a licence for that?

 

Evil Jim: License? Who buys licenses for fonts?! LOL!

 

Pleasant Bob: I do Jim. I do. [Ashamed look]

 

Evil Jim: Oh no... I know that look... no... don't send me there!

 

Pleasant Bob: Yes. You must. It's the only way.

 

[Cut to Clockwork Orange rehab center]

 

 

clockwork orange sounds great, but i thought all training videos were required by federal law to be either 70s disco or star trek parodies.

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clockwork orange sounds great, but i thought all training videos were required by federal law to be either 70s disco or star trek parodies.

 

I thinks 70's disco is reserved for sexual harassment only...

 

Great legs, what time do they open?

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I wanted to revive this thread so I can drop some font knowledge on you all.

 

There is a new trend by small foundry's and type designers to require upgraded "broadcast or film use" licenses. So even though you legitimately purchase the correct number of "desktop licenses" for all designers who will possibly touch a font, that's not good enough if you want to use it for broadcast or film.

 

These "upgrades" can run anywhere from $10,000 for a single typeface to an additional $100 for an entire family. It is all dependent on how you're using it, what the designer deems it worth for that purpose, and how good at negotiation you are. I have basically had to become the Priceline Negotiator + paralegal because part of my job is to purchase fonts and maintain our font licenses.

 

Also, just to make this shit MORE complicated, there is only ONE entity that is legally qualified to offer these upgrades. So let's say you buy a font from Myfonts.com…you think you're all good, right? Nope. you have to read that EULA, and if you see the word "Upgrade" "Extended" or "Broadcast" anywhere in it, you will need to contact the entity listed in the EULA (usually the designer, but sometimes a designated foundry or distributor) and negotiate the use.

 

Now, as a designer, I'm definitely FOR designers getting paid for their work. This is why I always pay for fonts, and never give them to vendors. EVER. But this is ridiculous. By the way, this extra money you are paying doesn't buy you limited exclusivity like, let's say, a Rights-Managed stock image does. Nope, you can still see your pricey font used on a dog food commercial too.

 

We just got hit with a bill for $6000 for ONE STUPID SCRIPT FONT, that we used on a title treatment for one of our ridiculous made-for-tv movies. We already owned 20 desktop licenses, but we didn't have the upgraded broadcast use license. Not kidding.

Which leads me to my final thing: DO NOT USE THE FONT - KAILEY.

Edited by Firebetty

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