Recent font legal disputes (or cost savings)

I'm updating our list of font license disputes that have reached major news media outlets (largely thanks to @Thomas Phinney). I'm struggling to find disputes, but I am finding a number of articles wherein megacorps are "saved from licensing costs" by commissioning/creating a font.
What other examples, or more recent license disputes (post 2015), have been published?

Existing list:

Comments

  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 190
    Thanks for posting this.  I've seen the articles about avoiding licensing costs.  I think it's clear we as an industry are accumulating bad PR.  Ug
  • All the Extensis links are dead.
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 763
    Why am I getting "Domain Not Found" for all the links to blog.extensis.com?
  • Cory MaylettCory Maylett Posts: 59
    edited August 3
    I've seen the articles about avoiding licensing costs.  I think it's clear we as an industry are accumulating bad PR.  Ug
    I would argue that it's good PR.

    These articles and cases help get the word out that it's illegal to use most fonts without, first, obtaining licenses to do so, and that it's not all that different from using photos, music, books, video or other kinds of software.

    It's good when the public is shown that font piracy is real, that we take it seriously and that legal penalties can come from ignoring this. I think most people, when it's spelled out to them, agree that it's not at all unreasonable for people to be paid for their work. There's not a whole lot wrong with PR that results in some respect.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 190
    @Cory Maylett  anything that scares potential game changingly large customers off is definitively bad PR.  
  • Cory MaylettCory Maylett Posts: 59
    edited August 3
    @JoyceKetterer — When large companies commission their own fonts to avoid licensing issues, I see as much opportunity there as I do drawbacks. 

    One clear advantage to this kind of publicity is the public realizing that the common practice of copying, distributing and illegally using fonts comes with real risks.

    On the whole, a net positive.

  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 190
    @Cory Maylett  We all loose if the retail market goes away or becomes perceived as only for those who can not afford "better".  The passive income of retail sales beat the limited commodity of our time which we sell when we do exclusive custom projects.  
  • @JoyceKetter — There's not a whole lot of passive income coming in from millions of copies of illegally used fonts either. I think we'll just need to disagree on this one.

  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 190
    edited August 3
    @Cory Maylett

    First, violating a contract is not quite the same as breaking the law, so how about not throwing around the word "illegal" haphazardly?

    Second, my goal is to sell retail font licenses to the largest range of people possible.  If all the entities with deep pockets are afraid to use a font that has a license I loose.  But not just me, our industry looses.  

    I can work with license violators.  I can't work with people who refuse to engage.  I think you're being very short sighted.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,415
    When large companies commission their own fonts to avoid licensing issues, I see as much opportunity there as I do drawbacks. 
    Customers opting for custom fonts rather than licensing existing fonts is part of a diverse and healthy type industry, but it ceases to be healthy when custom fonts are reported as saving the companies 'millions of dollars annually'. I am not aware of any licensing situation that involves such sums.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,558
    edited August 3
    FWIW, Jonathan Hoefler disputed that Netflix was paying millions of dollars a year in licensing fees.
    It’s worth noting that Jonathan Hoefler, founder of the Hoefler&Co type foundry that designed and owns the Gotham font, says that the company has “never quoted a client anything close to a million dollars for anything.” He adds, “most of our clients find that they’re better served by licensing an existing font than creating a new one, and cost is a major factor in that decision.”
    – 
    http://thenextweb.com/tech/2018/03/21/netflixs-sleek-new-typeface-will-save-ton-money/
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 190
    I definitely disagree that no one ever pays in the range of 1 Million dollars for a font license - even a timed one.  And my bet is that anyone who says otherwise is parsing very carefully in order to justify their answer. 

    @Dave Crossland, where's that picture you took of the pricing on myfonts if you dial everything up to the max? 

    I would note that these same companies pay millions for all sorts of other licenses without blinking.  It's just what happens at scale.  And if your only reason for commissioning a font is to avoid having a license then that's not a sufficient reason to make a new thing.  The issue here is that they a) under value fonts b) are afraid of the font licensing because our industry has fail to instill trust.
  • @Cory Maylett

    First, violating a contract is not quite the same as breaking the law, so how about not throwing around the word "illegal" haphazardly?

    I can work with license violators.  I can't work with people who refuse to engage.  I think you're being very short sighted.
    No contract exists when people use and distribute pirated fonts, which is a considerably bigger concern of mine than a corporation running afoul of its existing licenses. Using illegally obtained fonts comes with both criminal and civil penalties.

    You seem to assume there could be a large rush by many major companies to commission their own in-house, privately owned fonts that they will use to the exclusion of everything else. Honestly, I just don't see this happening on a scale that will make an appreciable difference. What I see, instead, are far more companies paying more attention to and being more conscientious about their licenses and policing their fonts.

    Just a couple of weeks ago, I sold a license for several thousand copies of a font family to a large company. They have dozens of different products — each with its own standardized branding. They will always need licensed fonts in addition to their corporate face.

    And so what if a handful of huge, billion-dollar companies, like IBM or Netscape, commission an in-house face for their corporate branding. I'm not at all sure I'd rather see, say, Monotype getting the revenue for their corporate typeface licenses than I would an individual designer being paid up front for a custom design. And I'm also less than convinced that avoiding licensing issues is typically these company's only (or even primary) reason for wanting a unique typeface anyway.

    Speaking of shortsightedness, I can't see where it's anything but shortsighted to think that articles informing the public about the legalities, penalties and risks associated with using or distributing fonts without a valid license to do so is a bad thing. Apparently, those foundries and distributors filing these lawsuits aren't too concerned about it either.

    Even when the issue is a civil suit against a corporation for a licensing violation, articles in the media about it drive home the message to the public (and businesses) that designers need to be paid for their work, which as I've said, is an unambiguously good thing.
  • @Dave Crossland, where's that picture you took of the pricing on myfonts if you dial everything up to the max?  

    It appears that the image you are looking for can be found in this thread: (In your opinion, what are the key advantages for an exclusive corporate typeface?).

    While Dave calculated $3.7 trillion to license Helvetica, he also wrote:

    Say Acme Client Co is going for 6 styles of Helvetica. They are going to call Monotype's friendly sales team, along with URW (Nimbus Sans) and Font Bureau (NHG) and work out a custom offer from each vendor, and write a check to the vendor who is most competitive.

    They are not going to punch in the details to myfonts.com and charge their credit card with 3.7 trillion dollars.
  • Makes the Democratic Socialist budget look like a no brainer lol
Sign In or Register to comment.