There's been a few discussions on this recently. I'm really interested in the reasons *why* licenses are ignored. How much of this is culprit of well-meaning intuition? The approach of "do not read and click agree" is set by software agreements. The term "to purchase", rather than "to license" a font is ubiquitous. What other standards are setup in society?
As an example…
Once again, someone shares a 28-file high profile font family with us –
it's like unsolicited drug peddling. Is right-click "forward email
attachments" the font analogy to image permissions' struggle with
right-click "copy image"?
All well-meaning as well, they emailed the fonts as a *hope* to help us check for licensing.
To @Katy Mawhood's point - I've dedicated quite a bit to this in my talk that will some day be made available as video by atyp so forgive me if you've heard this before.
I think it's partly an aversion to legal language. But let's not discount the degree to which people just don't read. It's maddening. They don't read the faq, they often don't even read the email response to a direct question they asked! Then we add that they've all be taught they don't need to read a eula because most software protects itself. People know they might be giving up their privacy when they agreed to a eula and they don't like it but they are resigned to it. They have no idea that they can accidentally violate. They really do think the through software will stop them - I get tech support inquiries that back that up.
But, and this goes to @Hrant H. Papazian's old saw about modification, they do know that of they crack open the software they are probably doing something not allowed. My guess is that they see that as hacking. This is why I don't put much stock in hrant's concern. He's assuming that people will unwittingly modify a font with no idea they aren't allowed to. I just don't see evidence of that as common a thing.
But, to @John Hudson 's point, when we do see unauthorized mods they are always terrible quality. I have no need to cater to people who show so little respect for the work that they will do such a shotty job on it. In one case we found the mod because it got a bad review that assumed Josh did the modification and suggested he might have had a stroke!
Try even just reading the Open Font License. I try imagine, for example, my mother would read it and try understand if she is or is not allowed to email someone a font that comes with it - no way could she make an informed judgement.
And keep aside also for a moment that most licenses are in English. And let's also keep aside that most font users simply understand fonts as a digital affordance - with the file you can use it, so passing the file to someone who needs to use it is the trivial solution.
Joyce, if a user has a font editor, it's supposed to edit fonts. Besides the fact that "fonts are software" remains a stretch (certainly for laymen) if they don't get a warning when they open a font there's no way they're going to think they're doing anything wrong. Most users can barely tell outright font piracy is illegal. Not because they're dumb, but because they have a life.
The one thing I agree on is that people don't read enough. But really, we don't want their dwindling reading time devoted to EULAs...
All that said, my concern is actually limited to those I might hopefully sway: foundries, not users. So it's not that I'm concerned with the misunderstanding or even misbehavior of users, it's that I mind the harm foundries are doing by having an opportunistic, protectionist and potentially extortive no-mod clause. We should definitely take precautions* but let's not be so gollum.
If I acquire a "desktop license", what am I allowed to do? Typeset corporate documents in it? Typeset a book in it? Will my publisher have to acquire another license to print my book? May I typeset ads in it? Use it in a logo? May I replace a character I do not like? May I add a missing character?
If your customer doesn't see the list of things they may or may not do, they will come up with their own ideas based on their experience with tangible goods. When I buy a regular chair I feel free to do anything I want: I can sit on it myself, I can offer it to my customers to sit on, I can saw off the back and turn it into a stool even if it compromises its integrity or the artistic concept of the woodworker. I do not feel free to say "my cafe is outfitted with Aeron chairs for your comfort" if my Aeron chairs have been turned into stools with fake leather seats. I also feel free to resell my modded chairs, but I know this doesn't apply to intellectual property.
A conceptual jump from chairs to typefaces is natural, so it must be very carefully, but explicitly retargeted into the terms of your EULA.
I think part of it is the legalese, but I don’t think making the licenses “easier to grok” will lead to considerably more people reading them. @JoyceKetterer is right, people just don’t want to read. Customers don’t want to stop to consider the terms, they just want to get the font, use the font, and move on with their lives. I think some of it might also be a willful ignorance...“if I don’t know what’s in the license, I can’t be held liable if I violate it.” While this is clearly not accurate, there are certainly many small companies that are flying in the face of EULAs who will never get in trouble for it.
It’s definitely maddening, but it’s our place as font makers and distributors to figure out a way to overcome that. We’re currently exploring clearly showing customers what’s included in a “standard” desktop license, and even more clearly highlighting how any specific foundry’s license departs from the “standard,” much like @Samuil Simonov mentions with the Creative Commons bullet points.
– Technical-based standards for audit (beyond lock-downs and seat count);
– Improve script coverage for global-usage in diacritics;
– Pricing model that better reflects the value, skill and time involvement.
The better the resources typographers have to do good typography, the more valuable a good typeface become, or a breadth of typefaces. I do not like substituting fonts and consolidating our libraries. I would like to have confidence that EULAs are not going to catch us out. The workarounds for compliance, sometimes, are so cumbersome – I can fully understand the swashbuckling though often unintended piracy of some smaller organisations. How specific we must be to match the font version, character-set and so on. Through third-parties, authors and so many others we see their non-compliance, scoop it up, and set it right to the best of our ability, for our mechanisms. But frankly, the cumbersome mechanisms that we ask them to follow are neither foolproof nor practical to your average business. In reality, we need each typesetter, or third-party, to match our licensed libraries (5,000 fonts) – who knows how many more they should license for their other customers? The larger companies can support it, like always it's the small independents that get squeezed out. It's not the print trade anymore, we can't let the typesetters license fonts and us publish – logos, ads, promotion, amazon, pdf-embedding, credits, version-control, location… and so on.
How many publishers don't even bother with unicode or the specific details of font compliance? The number of authors irritated or surprised by our mechanisms is suggestive, they cite other publishers to us – "when I published xxxx, I didn't…". Sorry.
Aren’t books physical goods/goods for sale? What’s the legal definition of a “unique branding situation”?
But please where can I read the EULA? There is no direct link, it takes time to find it.
It seems like there's been a trend recently to hide EULAs on some font vendor sites. Please please please, keep an obvious link for those of us who do read *before* we license. I've emailed Monotype, and I send out emails to other vendors when the EULA is not readily available. That process takes extra time, which seems unnecessary.