Unlimited license plus customer use?

Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 208
edited January 26 in Type Business
There are other threads discussing some of this, but more specifically I'm wondering how broad you define "unlimited"...

With an unlimited (or enterprise) license... what is your view on the inclusion (or exclusion) of granting rights for use in applications / website apps / servers that allow outside customers not affiliated with the Licensee to use the fonts to create their own digital designs or physical products, or purchase a pre-designed template? Thus allowing the Licensee to generate revenue from those cases.

(This is different than embedding in a mobile app or code for branded text styling, and also different from an internal server for automation or sharing of the font use within the company... which I consider to be included in the unlimited license.)

The user is no longer an employee, contractor, or third party that is working for the Licensee or their projects.

So do you specify those kinds of uses as being a separate thing that the Licensee can have added to the unlimited license for an additional cost? Or do you consider it included as part of the typical unlimited deal and cost?

Comments

  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,039
    We would consider what you describe to be a form of distribution license (even if the font resides on the licensee’s servers and is not actually delivered to the third parties using it). So we wouldn't include this in our use license agreement, but would have a separate form of agreement, similar to that which we would use for e.g. a bundling license with a software company.
  • @Adam Ladd I'm really confused by your question. 

    Are you operating under the idea there's some kind of "standard" web and mobile app embedding without any end user generated text?  There isn't.  If you grant web or app embedding you should expect that there may be end user generated text.  In most cases I don't care about it because the use is targeted and restricted.  In cases where the use is to generate an on demand product for sale we increase the embedding price.  

    But that doesn't answer your question about "unlimited" pricing. I've only issued a few license where we gave the client literally everything we could think of.  Usually, even with very big clients, the license is targeted to specific kinds of use which are then unlimited (unlimited basic level CPU installation, unlimited web traffic on unlimited websites, etc). In those cases where we do make a license that gives them everything we aren't really pricing a la carte.  I do my best to start out that way but eventually it winds up that we're just negotiating within a ballpark. 

    So, I don't think I've really answered your question but I hope I've helped a little.  Please let me know if you have other questions.    
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 208
    Thank you, John.

    And thanks @JoyceKetterer I appreciate your feedback. Sorry if I made it muddy.

    I was wanting to clarify for myself and clients what "unlimited" actually means. Because I think that at a glance, it could be mistaken as being given rights to do literally anything and everything (like you referred to with your few, rarer license cases).

    So yes, your point about generating an on-demand product for sale is mainly what I was referring to. I typically consider an Unlimited license to include unlimited users, counts, and embedding for uses permitted with Desktop, Web, and App licenses. And this is what most clients seem to only need when reaching out about it.

    It seemed that the on-demand product generation rights would be a separate license (or increased cost) from the "standard" Unlimited one, and thus not allowed. (Perhaps sometimes also known as a Server or Product Creation license, or like John noted as being a form of a distribution license).

    I could be overlooking something. Hopefully that makes sense?
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,959
    Sounds like part of the problem is just using the word "unlimited" in the *title* of the license?
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 208
    edited January 27
    Sounds like part of the problem is just using the word "unlimited" in the *title* of the license?
    Yes, I think so Thomas. It can be confusing when there are actually some usage restrictions and thus other licenses (or increased cost) needed to cover certain things (like on-demand product creation, etc.).

    I like "Unlimited" as a term for it still, and clients seem to use that term as well when initially describing some of their needs. But communicating to a client that you don't get all "unlimited" rights to do anything you want (non-exclusive still) is a little challenging. Cost then increases (perhaps by a lot) if those other needs are added.

    I'll have a price range for Unlimited (Desktop, Web, App) but then also an increased price range if wanting Unlimited plus something like "product creation" rights added.

    That's how I've seen and used "Unlimited" at times, so I've been wondering how others define it and what inclusions or exclusions they use.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,039
    Our retail pricing uses tiers with limitations on different kinds of use (number of installations, number of web views, number of ebooks, number of apps), and our license specifies types of use within the limitations stated on the purchase order. This enables us, if a customer requests, to generate a custom purchase order with no limits on either specific use types or on all the use types defined by the license. But the license still defines the permitted use types, which would not include distribution or some other kinds of use. So I would understand ‘unlimited’—or ‘limitless’, my preferred term—to refer to not applying limits to the permitted use types, not to allowing arbitrary use types.
  • I always tell customers that it's still a license so there are of course some things they can't do.  
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 208
    edited January 27
    So I would understand ‘unlimited’—or ‘limitless’, my preferred term—to refer to not applying limits to the permitted use types, not to allowing arbitrary use types.
    That makes sense and is perhaps the distinction that needs made to clarify expectations—and cost—of "unlimited".

    I prefer keeping usages like the on-demand product creation as a separate add-on license and increase cost accordingly. Been helpful to hear how others view it too.

    Though a rarer case, curious if anyone found a better term for an anything and everything license like Joyce referred to earlier? I see the use of "Enterprise" sometimes, but I tend to think of that as basically the same as Unlimited desktop, web, app (not product creation, distribution, and the like).
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 208
    I always tell customers that it's still a license so there are of course some things they can't do.  
    Good, clear point.

    In the end, I'm hoping to sharpen up expectations and costs for myself and clients, and communicate it more clearly. "Unlimited" was a tricky term to get aligned on. Appreciate the insights so far.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 472
    edited January 28
    I think unlimited always needs a modifier.  As in, "unlimited page views".  

    It's tempting to think that "enterprise" means an "everything is unlimited" license... I encounter a lot of people who use it to just mean the license is for a large company.  So they might ask you for "an enterprise license for desktop". 

    They'd be that specific if you're lucky. Over the years I've come to believe that enterprise is a word people use to signal that they want vip treatment but that it has no fixed meaning in terms of the nature of the license.  Some people use "buyout" the same way as in "we want to buy all possible kinds of licensing" but others use it to mean assignment of rights.  
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,039
    I think of ‘enterprise’ as licensing for use across the entirety or significant portion of a large corporate or institutional entity, including possibly multiple locations, subsidiary companies, etc. Enterprise customers don’t want to have to count work station installations or numbers of networked devices: they just want to be able to use the font everywhere within their organisation.
  • I just had a conversation today with someone from a large company with an adobe cc cloud enterprise license.  It's not like that's unusual for me but the fact that we had been engaging in this conversation made me see that one in a new light.  

    Yes, the company has a very big license but the thing that mattered the most to this person was that the business has control over the features the employees can access.  This could be one more way that fonts get short shrift as software.  In the absence of being able to give the company oversight over it's users we and our customers flail about to justify the term "enterprise" because we are using it out of habit.
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 208
    edited January 29
    Yes, interesting timing Joyce. It helps to get these further examples of the varied larger client needs/expectations and if the "enterprise" term doesn't always fit with what they're thinking or might be used to from other industries/services.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,039
    Yes, the company has a very big license but the thing that mattered the most to this person was that the business has control over the features the employees can access.

    Interesting. Features in what sense? I can imagine a large company with strict branding rules wanting to limit styles or e.g. always use particular stylistic sets, in which case making a custom build of the font family could be the best ‘enterprise’ option.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 472
    edited January 29
    @John Hudson I thought of that too!  But Adobe doesn't actually permit that.  So, this company doesn't allow access to the Adobe fonts library at all and instead purchases licenses directly from foundries in order to control which fonts staff use. They have too varied a business for commissioned fonts to be a viable solution. 
  • Katy MawhoodKaty Mawhood Posts: 211
    edited February 1
    Adam Ladd said:
    I like "Unlimited" as a term for it still, and clients seem to use that term as well when initially describing some of their needs. But communicating to a client that you don't get all "unlimited" rights to do anything you want (non-exclusive still) is a little challenging. Cost then increases (perhaps by a lot) if those other needs are added.
    Coming from the buyers-side, it pays to use "plain english" for terms like this. Whilst you may clarify the specific terms for your direct contacts, it's very easy for that knowledge to get lost or forgotten. Many font users, managers or asset/supplier managers are not well versed in the nuance of font licensing, even if they have the time to read them.

    In terms of long-term use, font management solutions are poorly tailored to license nuance, and misuse can occur from misunderstanding top-level terms. So, if a license is labelled as an unrestricted "unlimited" license, then it may be used that way for years until someone points out otherwise. 
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 208
    edited February 1
    Thanks for the feedback, Katy. It's tricky, and like you said could be misunderstood or misapplied by a user down the line. Consistency and clarity are good to keep pursuing. 

    It's sometimes a case-by-case basis that needs talked through with the client, but I wonder what a helpful remedy or better term might be. As a buyer, do you have any suggestions from your experience?

    "Unlimited" is accurate on one hand because it might be unlimited quantities/counts of a license type (desktop, web, app, etc.), but on the other, it does not always mean unlimited everything.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,959
    The problem with “talked through with the client” is that you are assuming the person you are talking to will be dealing with the license downstream. 

    What I hear Katy saying is that the big dangers are in other people interpreting that license after the fact. You are setting up a situation that needs to last for potentially many years. Somebody sees the license title and makes assumptions based on it. A more vague but less-potentially-misleading license title is better in this case, because it forces them to read and discover what (for example) “Enterprise” means rather than learning that “Unlimited” doesn’t mean they can do anything they like.

    I am definitely with Joyce on the idea that you don’t want “Unlimited” in that title unless it is an adjective modifying something specific, which really is unlimited in your license. “Unlimited units” or “unlimited pageviews” is OK, but you don’t want to say “unlimited license.”
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 208
    Thanks for hashing it out more Thomas. Agreed. This continues to be helpful to get your all's perspective and experience regarding titling these types of licenses and rights, and be more aware of potential confusion or issues.
  • Adam Ladd said:
    It's sometimes a case-by-case basis that needs talked through with the client, but I wonder what a helpful remedy or better term might be. As a buyer, do you have any suggestions from your experience?
    @Adam Ladd I sent you a quick PM. Before making suggestions, it would be helpful to review the license or have some greater detail on its clauses.

    I agree with John that it sounds like some kind of distribution license. Although, I suspect there may be an important nuance to your license. 
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 208
    @Katy Mawhood Thanks very much for your reply and effort to look into this Katy. I appreciate it. Sorry, got pulled onto some other things and have been away from the thread. I'll check the PM.

    To quickly reply, I was wondering then more generally if you'd come across some plain-english terminology or titles that made licenses similar to these easier for you as a buyer? (I agree about using "unlimited" in terms of describing quantities, and more carefully with titles.)
  • "Enterprise" is understood to have nuance. But, I have an idea, from what you’ve told me, and I’m happy to explore if I can help you with that. Why do you think the similarities of your license are more important than the differences?
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 208
    edited February 8
    Thank you Katy... Hmm, apologies, but I'm not quite sure I'm grasping the question on my end, would you mind please rephrasing? Similarities to... (other foundries?) ?

    I was curious to see how this community views or uses a term like "unlimited" and also where rights like on-demand products/distribution might fall (if separate license/cost or sometimes included).
  • Katy MawhoodKaty Mawhood Posts: 211
    edited February 8
    Adam Ladd said:
    Thank you Katy... Hmm, apologies, but I'm not quite sure I'm grasping the question on my end, would you mind please rephrasing? Similarities to... (other foundries?) ?

    Sorry about that Adam. 

    Your license describes specific terms, which helps to define the risk value of your license for buyers. Industry-wide license standards (similarities) are useful in managing risk effectively. Yet, these similarities are easily eclipsed by a high-risk difference.

    Plain English titles are useful to buyers when they accurately describe the contents of your license. But, I cannot advise on that without reading the license.

    There are titles which invite the licensee to read a little deeper (e.g. enterprise). But, I think you're looking for something else. To get a feeling for it, I'd recommend looking at the differences between your license and "similar" licenses (from foundries, vendors, etc).
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 472
    edited February 9
    @Katy Mawhood I thought you were going somewhere else with that question.  Namely, that you were going to assert that there is a agreed core meaning to "enterprise" and that therefore one could get away with telling customers what your differences are because the similarities are understood.  That's how our web embedding licensing is.  We don't do it the same as everyone else but we're doing a bunch of things that are the same with just a few key changes we pitch as improvements.
  • Katy MawhoodKaty Mawhood Posts: 211
    edited February 10
    @JoyceKetterer Absolutely agree – there is a core meaning for "enterprise", which can be customised to fit buyer needs. Your addenda approach makes customisations easier to manage.

    I think every customer will eagerly listen to a pitch about improvements. :)

    Yet, I am always surprised by people's assumptions on licensing. The winning clause for operations in one agreement may be absent in another. That may be overlooked for years, and can be a danger for both licensee and licensor.
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 208
    edited February 10
    Thank you for the helpful replies @Katy Mawhood. The advice from your end / experience is appreciated.
  • It’s a little late in this conversation but I wanted to add two points from Grilli Type’s experience:
    • Inspired by Joyce’s thinking, Grilli offers a base EULA, which includes the general terms plus specific one for desktop, web, and app each. The terms of each apply depending on the licenses purchased by the customer. Any modifications to the agreement are done through add-ons, one of which is the Unlimited add-on one (which can be applied to each desktop, web, and app separately).
    • Grilli calls this an unlimited-tier license in customer communication, not an unlimited license. Unlimited-tier stands in contrast with limited-tier licenses, which are all the tiers available in Grilli Type’s online shop. The unlimited-tier simply replaces that tier information with an "unlimited" and that’s the only modification.

    I believe unlimited-tier licensing to be much more clearly defined in customers’ minds than enterprise or any such terms.
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 208
    Thanks very much for the added insights with Grilli Type's experience @Thierry Blancpain. I see your point with the "unlimited-tier" terminology.
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