Today, I received a technical support request for one of my fonts: the user had trouble uploading the font to Canva.
Now, this was the first I heard about Canva, a simple online graphic design suite that allows users to upload their own assets, including fonts. The user first has to click to confirm that they "own" the font, and then they get to pick the font file from their machine, and up it goes.
For personal use, my EULA allows for installation on all personally owned computers. For commercial use, it's one license per user.
I'd probably be OK if Canva made uploaded fonts only available to the license holder who uploaded it. But I understand that users can collaborate on Canva. That way, a font uploaded as part of a brand identity on a single license could be made available to untold numbers of users.
Does anybody have any experience / opinions on this?
1) Some specific Canva user wants to use the font for their work. Yes, they can invite collaborators, but presumably it is unlikely the font will spread virally across Canva documents (although this might be technically possible.)
2) Canva wants to make the font available to all their users, to become one of the standard fonts available in the app.
With (1) it is only a bit different from a normal font licensing situation. Might want to inquire as to how many collaborators they expect, and charge on that basis.
For (2) this is more similar to bundling a font with an app than anything else. Presumably Canva users can’t use it elsewhere, but only within Canva. So, there is a pleasant side exposure, as you could get more licensees from these Canva users wanting to use the font in other apps. This is less true when fonts are bundled with a normal app, because the user gets the font installed on their system and can use it everywhere.
Canva has >10 million users (10M was fall 2018).
One ceiling on what to charge is, what would it cost them to simply commission a font of equivalent quality? One question to ask is, is the font popular enough that they are buying some guaranteed value, compared to a commission?
I doubt my fonts serve their design niches uniquely enough to warrant commissioning new fonts. There’s a lot of choice out there after all.
I don’t think an app license makes sense here, since the fonts are not used for the app’s UI, but rather to make PDF deliverables. The server license sounds spot-on.
This is a holdover from the days when fonts were licensed and sold with (or separately for) typesetting devices by the device maker, and later bundled with printers by the printer manufacturer. The term is still sometimes used for similar/equivalent situations, even when there is no “equipment” involved.
Also, traditional OEM bundling is quite different from a “reseller” arrangement Joyce has mentioned. I am a bit confused by her description of Canva as a reseller, but I am not privy to the details of the proposition.
With traditional OEM bundling, a manufacturer is shipping and selling a product, and sending your fonts along for the ride. The OEM’s customers get your fonts, and gets both access to the font files and rights to do pretty much with them the same things they can do with other fonts. (Like the fonts you get with macOS, Windows, and used to get with printers.)
With a MyFonts “server license” the “manufacturer” is using the font on a server, to make something else with the font, and selling that something to users. That something is generally some kind of personalized product, whether it is business cards or customized invoices. It specifically disallows SaaS activities, where access to the software is rented, and the service is the product, rather than selling the end creation. (If Canva charged per-document instead of a flat monthly fee, I suppose it would be within scope for the MyFonts server license. But not as is.)
To be a “reseller,” Canva would have to be charging the user specifically for the font usage/access in some way, and likely passing on some share of that revenue as a percentage, rather than as a flat fee.
By its very nature any additional grant of license is indeed an agreement between two parties that both agree to. If you don't like the terms that Canva is offering, you're well within your rights to negotiate until you both agree.
Agree. If they want to have it so open-ended, you should charge them as if they are buying rights to sell it at retail to anybody and not pay you a penny more. (Because that is what the contract seems to allow.)
That seems problematic, for sure.
But I thought some of you might want to see their current agreement. I find it odd that a company that's well known and has been around for a few years has a license agreement of this caliber. I expect this sort of agreement from a first timer, maybe an indie studio that doesn't quite get how the legalities of typefaces work. Copyright section whaaa? Nothing about trademarks? Harsh indemnity clause? License includes any apps so they can license them to an infinite number of spinoff apps. The agreement doesn't prevent them from renaming the fonts or hiding the creator's name which could nullify anyone's hopes of exposure. Section 5.1 is nonsense...they can crop the fonts? Good luck. I've seen some weird agreements in the 25 years I've been doing this but this one really stands out.
What is the basic license multiplier for this license, given monthly active users of 30 million (Canva) or 4 million (Canva Pro)?
I think all of that is more or less moot because I can echo what others have said, Canva really does want to get fonts for a few hundred bucks each.