I have been reading up on licensing, but I am just not sure of my case.
For a start-up company I am creating the logo, product and packaging design. For this I would like to make small adjustments to the Today SH
font; I would then use it for the logo, and for some text on the product and packaging.
The adjustments would be minor and not necessarily all letters will be affected (though all letters that appear in the logo will); a bit like this David Rudnick remix of the Poplar font:
My questions are:
- If I do my adjustments directly onto the font file: is a license needed at all? Is a special license needed?
- If I work from a jpeg, tracing it to vectors myself, and then do my adjustments: is a license needed?
(- How does Rudnick deal with the licensing for the above example?)
- Any other things I need to know?
Thanks in advance for any reply.
The relevant section of the E+F license would be:
2.4 Modifying the Font Software is prohibited, even in the event that it is necessary for fulfilling personal design requirements. Specifically, it is prohibited to change or modify the Font/Trademark Names used as identifying tags in the Font Software in any form or manner. If such changes or modifications become necessary, prior written consent has to be obtained from Elsner+Flake.
So you would need permission before modifying the font file.
Don't designers adjust fonts all the time in their work?
Let's say I do all my adjustments in Illustrator and never use them as a font (i.e. never with the Text Tool)? Would that change anything?
Also, let's say Rudnick decides he wants to sell his Poptimo Blast, or place it on a server. Would he really go to the license seller of Poplar first to get a server license? Does his adjusted font never become his own?
If you find that type design software is best for editing vector graphics, then nothing in this license prevents you from doing that, providing you do not edit the font file itself.
If you want to modify the font and use it to style text (e.g. by installing your modified version and opening it up in InDesign), then I'd advise contacting the foundry directly to discuss pricing and options.
It depends upon several facets, including the jurisdiction of the license and the laws governing that jurisdiction. Is the final vector noticeably dissimilar?
Font licensing is a can of worms. I'd be happy to discuss further as a consultant.
If you convert text to outlines and then modify the outlines in Illustrator to create the individual wordmarks/logos, that would be fine and permitted by pretty much any font license. In that case, you are creating a vector graphic based on the font, rather than creating a derivative font.
Some licenses permit creating modified derivative fonts so long as they are not distributed, but many prohibit any modifications.
I make fonts and I also buy fonts. Because I work in books, I almost always have the opportunity to credit type designers for their contribution. I like to think my work has been of benefit—or, at least, never a detriment—to the type designers whose fonts I use.
I often make small alterations to fonts. These include the addition of glyphs I need (such as h-underdot, U+1E25) that few fontmakers include, which also means adding them to the kerning table. I make changes to the standard ligature set (such as removing the Th) and occasional kerning adjustments, to suit my needs and taste. These are things that can be done by other means, within the applications I use, but only with some extra effort and potential problems in very long texts that go through extensive correction passes. (Constructing an underdot h in, say, InDesign makes it difficult to search text.) I used to ask for permission, and still do from designers I know, but I once ran into difficulty with someone who became very surly about it. In the end, I told him I would proceed according to plan and advised him to “lawyer up” if he wanted to address the issue further. I never heard from him again. And I never again approached a designer I didn’t know about this kind of thing.
I fully understand the need for the protection of intellectual and work property (it’s an issue for me, too), but there are reasonable limitations and unreasonable limitations, especially as applied to what is, in key respects, an industrial component that is used as part of a larger whole. I say this as a matter of fact, not to denigrate the importance of type design, which I will defend to the end. After all, people can “ruin” and even “defame” fonts perfectly well in design applications without ever violating a license agreement. I have yet to see a EULA that threatens to punish the slovenly use of fonts.
This question is a little puzzling to me. Why would Rudnick’s modification of an existing font outline become something he has a right to sell? If he wants to sell a font as his own he would surely want to create something new, (even if based on the original wood type as Nick says), not modify a few outlines and resell it.
I have emailed E+F to see if they would allow for modification and under what conditions. I have also started to think of new design ideas, this time taking the above advice to go for open license fonts.
The reason other licenses are not consistent is that they reflect different business models and ways of releasing fonts, as well as the preferences of the people making fonts regarding restrictions and permissions. Some of those preferences come down to instinctual positions or beliefs. I know people who absolutely don’t ever want to see modified versions of their typeface designs in use; I’m okay with it but have a modification clause in our license that says a) yes, you can create modified derivative fonts, b) any modified derivative fonts fall under the license terms (so, e.g. cannot be distributed, and in the case of webfonts would be subject to the same tiered site view limitations), and c) we want you to send us copies of the modified derivative fonts and we reserve the right to incorporate any of the modifications into future versions of our own releases. The latter clause is something I’ve not noted other foundries including, but it made sense to me in terms of the kind of fonts we’re making and the kind of users we sell to, i.e. people like @Scott-Martin Kosofsky who are likely to be making character and language support modifications to fonts. Obviously, the same clause that is intended to encourage looping such modifications back into the Tiro release so that they can benefit other users may be a disincentive to someone who wants to make a modified version of a font for branding purposes. I could probably come up with license wording to handle both kinds of modifications in a way that preserves the unique branding value of the latter, but that would make the license even more complex and particular.
Over the years, I’ve seen a number of attempts to create a common EULA model or other efforts to simplify things for font license purchasers and users. There has been some consolidation around terms for some kinds of use, but a common EULA has never been possible because people are making different kinds of fonts, releasing them in different ways, and selling licenses to different kinds of customers. Frankly, having a single EULA per foundry seems to me remarkable—Tiro fonts are released under three different license models, and that’s without taking into account whatever we eventually settle on for indigenous language use—, let alone a single EULA shared by multiple foundries.
There are clear subsets of font licenses that reflect overlapping business models, and there have been various attempts to capture these subsets. The big question I ponder is this: how many sales are lost as a result of font licensing complexity, misunderstanding and/or being deterred by that complexity?
Anecdotally this thread is very positive because it confirms an example where "money shouldn't be the issue". A licensee feels encouraged towards the libre licensing on grounds of license comprehension/reassurance, not the cost of the license or value of risk.
If you take into account older licenses (without a superseding clause), then there are so many different licenses under each foundry, before even considering specific decisions to adopt several license models.
(Asking on some forum may get you an interesting discussion which however does not answer your question. This is something that only the foundry can do. Also, reading this thread again, I notice that your initial post is quite precise, technically, but it does not provide context. Your latest post, finally, does. It makes quite a difference.)