Fontspring

I've been invited to join Fontspring as a foundry. The conditions sound good, but I'm not good with license questions and the likes.
  1. Can you recommend joining Fontspring? Are there any strings attached?
  2. Specifically, are the conditions compatible with also being on MyFonts? I know I'm not allowed to sell cheaper than on MyFonts; I guess I should be fine if I use the same pricing?
  3. Fontspring seems to care about simple licenses in particular. Could I keep the wording of the standard MyFonts license that I've been using, or would I have to change it? Is there a standard Fontspring license wording I would have to adopt instead? Would they differ significantly?
Cheers

Comments

  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,330
    I’ve been with Fontspring since they launched. Ethan and his crew are great people and I’ve never had a problem.

    Unless you negotiated a weird deal your MyFonts contract should allow you to sell elsewhere.

    Fontspring has never complained about my EULA, although mine is pretty simple.
  • Ethan and his crew are great people and I’ve never had a problem.
    That's also my experience via Font Squirrel.

    I was just worried about overlooking possible legal complications. But I'm sure they have lots of foundries that are also on MyFonts, so I guess they must know what they're doing.
  • They're solid, used same EULA as used for other vendors including MyFonts, although to clarify it's not the stock MyFonts EULA, it is custom.
  • Ben BlomBen Blom Posts: 161

    In Fontspring’s latest version(s) of their agreement with foundries, they altered the provision for future changes of this agreement.

    • Old version: “This Agreement may be modified, changed or amended only in writing signed by an authorized representative of both parties”.
    • New version: “Fontspring reserves the right to update and change the Agreement from time to time without notice. Continued use of the Program after any such changes shall constitute your consent to such changes”.

    At other font distributors, I only see something like Fontspring’s old version of such a provision. The new version of this provision makes me feel uneasy. Other than that, I’ve had very good experiences with Fontspring.

  • @Ethan Dunham That sounds antithetical to your foundry-friendly way of doing things. What's up?
  • Also, I do understand the hesitation. And maybe it feels "shady" or like we want to be sneaky. I will say that many of our foundry partners were practically begging for this. They'd say "Yes, yes, yes, do whatever you want. I trust you guys 100%. Stop asking me about every move you make." And we were always like "Our hands are tied by our agreement. This is the way it has to be."

    Without committed foundries, a distributor has no chance. We've spent so much time and capital making foundries our top priority, topping even our customers. I firmly believe that it makes the best business sense for us to aim as much generosity and fairness at foundries as we can. I'm willing to concede that maybe we got our wording wrong or too far toward our end of the spectrum? I'm open to revisiting that clause.

    We always welcome feedback.
  • Having been a distributor with twenty-some foundries signed up, and at the same time working mostly with type designers and being one myself, I can see both sides of this one painfully well.

    On the one hand, FontSpring had trouble introducing new features without it. What if they want to start a rental service? Or some new kind of online tester not covered in the agreement?

    On the other hand, it removes the certainty for the foundry. If FontSpring decided to sublicense their fonts to another vendor, or offer one style in each family for free, or start paying half the royalty rate... well, they can.

    I am quite willing to believe that is not what they had in mind. But yeah, as a type designer, I wouldn’t agree to a deal like that. Probably not even from a good friend.

    Now, if the agreement said that FontSpring could update the agreement unilaterally with 45 days advance notice, and I would have 30 days to object or withdraw my fonts or whatever, that would still be less than thrilling, but I could go for it, if I trusted them reasonably well.

    My two cents, wearing my MBA business hat.
  • On the other hand, it removes the certainty for the foundry. If FontSpring decided to sublicense their fonts to another vendor, or offer one style in each family for free, or start paying half the royalty rate... well, they can.

    Couldn't you just withdraw from Fontspring if something like this were to happen? Is there something like a lock-in clause?

    (My two Rappen, wearing no MBA attire whatsoever.)

  • Ben BlomBen Blom Posts: 161

    I am convinced Fontspring is a foundry-friendly distributor. They really are a great team. I understand running a font distribution business is not easy, and being flexible is important—but I feel Fontspring made an error of judgment by introducing the new version of the provision concerning changes of the agreement. Other font distributors do not seem to need a provision like that, and they do not seem to need to change the agreement regularly. I am not sure if it can be called “shady” or “sneaky”, but this is how the agreement with the new version of the provision has been introduced by Fontspring:

    Log in to your Foundry Dashboard of Fontspring. Your Foundry Dashboard is covered by a dialog box (blocking entry to your Foundry Dashboard)—inviting you to agree with the new agreement with a few mouse clicks (or to look at it later, if I remember well). I wonder how many foundries just accepted the new agreement with a few mouse clicks—without knowing the fundamental change in the agreement they agreed to.

    I am afraid introducing the fundamentally different provision in this way, is another error of judgment. In conclusion, I would say: The end does not justify the means.

  • On the other hand, it removes the certainty for the foundry. If FontSpring decided to sublicense their fonts to another vendor, or offer one style in each family for free, or start paying half the royalty rate... well, they can.

    Couldn't you just withdraw from Fontspring if something like this were to happen? Is there something like a lock-in clause?

    I have not seen the full license, but I assume one could, yes.

    T
  • @Christian Thalmann even if you can sell licenses under two different EULAs that doesn't mean you should.  This is likely to cause problems down the road with license enforcement.
    I wouldn't want two EULAs, I'm already in over my head with a single one.
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 760
    edited July 2016
    Has there been any progress on the Fontspring question? Should I just assume goodwill on their side...? @Ethan Dunham, are there any plans to adjust that wording to sound less exploitable?

    On a perhaps related note, has anyone here collaborated with DesignCuts before? They are offering to include one of my type families in a font bundle to be offered for a very limited time and for an outrageously low price, but given their sales history, they expect enough bundle sales to make it significantly lucrative. Is there a downside to participating in such a deal? For instance, does it anger people who might have bought my typeface from MyFonts at a price larger than that of the entire bundle...?

    Apparently, previous bundles have included such illustrous names as LatinoType, so I guess it must be a legit move...?
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 694
    edited July 2016
    For instance, does it anger people who might have bought my typeface from MyFonts at a price larger than that of the entire bundle...?
    Yes, I think it would — and should. You might get a few extra bucks from those megabundles, but the effect they have on one’s reputation has more impact. The decisions you make about pricing, discounting, and where/how you sell your fonts is really all about what kind of foundry you want to be.
  • I see what you mean. It's no different from choosing one's starting discount on MyFonts — I would have made more money with a 80% discount, no doubt, but decided against that...
  • I completely agree with @Stephen Coles.

    What I as a designer starting a foundry at first didn’t understand, but now see the same way as Stephen, is that running a company (foundry in this case) is akin to running your own studio as a designer (or even freelance), in that how you run the company matters just as much as what you produce. Figure out what values you want to stand for, how you want to conduct business, and then the answer should be obvious, whatever way you choose.
  • Has there been any progress on the Fontspring question? Should I just assume goodwill on their side...? @Ethan Dunham, are there any plans to adjust that wording to sound less exploitable?

    @Christian Thalmann, we’re currently working on updating the agreement to clarify this and a few other concerns that others have raised. I’ll note that that clause was only ever included to allow us to effectively and quickly introduce features we feel are in foundry best interest without requiring 100% foundry buy-in before launching. We understand why it’s caused some hesitation for you and others, so we’ll be releasing a new agreement with updated language in the near future. I’ll keep you updated.
  • Thanks for the wisdom, Stephen and Thierry, that was my initial gut feeling as feel. I've declined the deal now.

    @Joe Manbeck: That's great news, thanks! I'll be happy to join Fontspring soon, then. :grin:
  • Everyone, we've just released an update to our Foundry Terms of Service. The subsection that has been causing the most consternation now reads:
    Section 21:
    Fontspring reserves the right to update and change the Agreement from time to time. Reasonable effort will be made to notify Foundry of such changes in accordance with Section 26. Continued use of the Program shall constitute your consent to such changes.
    Section 26 simply states that we may use your email address on file to notify of changes to the agreement.

    I’ll say again, it was always our goal to communicate changes to the agreement and to how we distribute foundry fonts. We left it out of our initial Terms of Service because there are legal ramifications for saying you will notify someone and them not actually getting the notification. For example, what happens if an email gets bounced back to us, or a vendor doesn’t log into their account to see the changes. Does that actually constitute notification? We weren’t sure, so we originally didn’t claim that we would notify, even though that was our intention from the start.

    We feel the new terms better reflect what we will do.
  • I read it exactly like Ethan described, just a quicker, lesser bureaucratic way of doing business. This has a lot to do with them always being transparent and upfront about any change they make.

    Fontspring is a really good distributor, if nothing else for the freedom it gives in the admin panel with almost zero back and forth to set up a project and get it to customers as reliably as possible.
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