Trained to ignore license agreements

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…

Emailing fonts

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.


  • Perhaps type users hate the notion of legal-speak and lawyer hiring enough to just "see-no-evil" and go on with their work?  It is up to us to make it less daunting for them--don;t ask me how.
  • Perhaps a side discussion ... The term 'to purchase' is fine for fonts, in my world. According to the dictionary on my computer, purchase means to 'acquire (something) by paying for it'. In most contexts, that's what happens: you purchase a font to acquire font files and rights. But, 'license' over 'own' is another story since owning software is less common and in the majority of cases one is purchasing the rights to use software, not the software itself.
  • We do purchase a license, though.  It is different from renting or leasing but has more limitations than owning outright.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 780
    edited September 2016
    @chris I don't think you do purchase a license -  I've been corrected on that one as well.   I think you pay for a license.   At some point this launguage stuff becomes farse.  

    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! 
  • Joyce, yes, that "language stuff is a farce" ;-)  Then again, lawyers make a good living on such distinctions. I wish we could talk "people talk" instead ;-)
  • @chris would that it were so simple.   

  • edited September 2016
    The first post by Chris is right on. Just delete "type"... Humans hate legalese. And for good reason. Even most lawyers surely rarely read EULAs, unless it's the one they happen to be concocting... Do I have a solution? Nothing actionable, except the first step: talking about it openly.

    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.

  • People don't read EULAs, that's a given. They use short descriptions of the purchase options to guide them. That's something Creative Commons have done well, they came up with short codes for their licenses that outline what you can or cannot do.

    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.
  • JoeManbeckJoeManbeck Posts: 26
    edited September 2016
    It’s been clear to us for some time that customers aren’t going to read EULAs.

    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.
  • I really hope that OT Var fonts are seen as an opportunity to revise licensing… and other facets.
    – 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.
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • I also receive fairly regular queries from people asking whether they're allowed to use a font in a given way. And these are for fonts that I don't own, which were made as work-for-hire for Microsoft or other clients. The user discovers these fonts on their system and wonders if they're allowed to use them to create a logo, or typeset a cookbook, or in a scrapbook, to mention just a few of the queries I've received.
  • We also get inquires.  Some people are very careful and do understand and deserve credit for it.  It feels like they are in the minority though
  • KP MawhoodKP Mawhood Posts: 294
    edited October 2016
    Thank you for the click-through Monotype:

    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.
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