Hi, I'm Laurensius
, beginner in type design, haven't sold my first font yet. I'm currently doing research about type licensing and pricing.
To summarize Dinamo's licensing, the client is the license owner.
So if a designer creates brand identity for a brand/company, designer bought the license for their client, and the designer only work with the font for the clients — unless you're your own client (self initiated/personal projects). Pricing in this model is based on the client size, quoting Dinamo
: "Our fonts are priced based solely on on the company size of the font’s license owner. Not the number of people working with the font files." (note: for social media license, it's based on the company's social media followers count). I'm calling this "font as material" licensing,
because designer buys fonts for each client project.
It's like a house builder buys bricks, cement, and
paints every time they build a new house.
In the old/common licensing model, the license owner is the designer.
I think everyone's familiar with this. This licensing model comes from metal and wood type era, where type is a tool. Typesetter (or designer) bought the metal/wood type from foundries and they can use the "tool" indefinitely to create type on paper that people can reads. I think this mindset carries to digital type era that introduces what I called "font as tool" licensing
. The pricing based on how many computer installation, or website page views. The designer buy once to install and can use the fonts indefinitely for many clients, except for website/apps.
Now, I'm leaning towards Dinamo's model. It makes a lot of sense. If you haven't read above, here's the link again https://abcdinamo.com/news/about-our-pricing
. It's easier to buys a license with simplified metrics, designer doesn't have to pay for fonts — the client pays, and (my guess) type designers makes more money.
There's a few disadvantages I can think as of now. First, I think it will be hard for people to get familiar with the new model. Imagine having 2 fonts in your computer and that have 2 different usage rules. Second, I can't sell unfinished typefaces like on Future Fonts
. If you're not familiar with Future Fonts, you can buy unfinished/in-progress typeface on discounted price (because you're early supporter/tester) and add them to your "tool" box, then you get free updates as the type family grows in glyphs, weights, styles, and increases in price. I don't know how this could work in "font as material" licensing. Third, usually there's a need to provide trial fonts for designer which can be abused. Lastly, you can't sell typeface in bundles (50 fonts for $99!) — but I'm against this anyways.
So, what do you think about font as a tool vs material?
Do you think the industry should move to the "font as material" (value-based) pricing/licensing?
Aren’t there as many usage rules as fonts installed on one’s computer anyway?
I agree, but I don't understand what you mean by escape artists or the parenthetical.
I also didn't think that way, that one person labor is not endless.
How do you find your licensing for embedding? Because it's easy for developers to just convert webfont from an OTF/TTF file online.
I do think that finding violations is the main impetus for the shift coming from Dinamo ( @Johannes Neumeier )and Production Type ( @Jean-Baptiste Levée ). They are my friends and we've talked about it but from here on I'm speculating about their thinking. I'm pretty sure the logic goes something like this: "If I see a print use in the wild, under the old standard, I have no idea if it's licensed. I want to look at uses and be able to consult my sales records to see if it is licensed. This is the only way to do that."
Sure, but my reaction is "why do you care so much about print?" If I have to basically give away print (which I don't, but pretend for argument's sake that was the choice) I would in exchange for embedding. Embedding licensing is just so much easier to explain, monitor, price and enforce when there are errors.
Reproduction is the difference between a popular blogger making ads for years seen by some millions of followers each time, and a person making a poster for their backyard sale for a hundred visitors. Should they pay the same? Or a single designer making some prints for Nike that will go worldwide, is that still some $50?
How do you define “embedding”? Using the font in Photoshop by one person is probably not embedding. If Photoshop is smart enough to generate design with 1 click, is that embedding? If 100 customers send the designer texts to generate 100 designs and he/she copies the texts and does the 100 clicks, is that embedding yet or a single-user license? What if copying texts and clicking is also automated? You see where I’m going with this.
It just seems to me that the idea behind any font license is to balance the amount payed with the amount earned from the usage. If so, counting “heads” nowadays, when everything gets automated and sometimes there are no “heads” at all, doesn’t seem to be the most accurate measurement.
When you say "reproduction is endless" I think you mean reproduction of the images made with the fonts? That's not use of the fonts. We're licensing software here.
The scenario you describe with the blogger will probably involve a license for web embedding (paid per year and based on traffic) so no, they'd not pay the same as a person making a yard sign.
The single designer making prints for Nike that will go world wide is a marginal use case. In my experience, Nike is much more likely to have a large team for a global campaign.
Embedding is incorporation of the font software in other software. Use in Photoshop is not embedding. The automation scenario you describe (to print products for sale) is likely a web app with an embedded font(s) which is going to get licensed as such.
I agree about the point of a font license. However, I measure usage of the software not of the images made with the software. I do this because it's more intuitive for the customer and therefore less likely to make them quit me and go use a free font.
I agree with that. From my point of view, I'm in the business of making art supplies; as much of an artist as people who manufacture pencils or erasers. Maybe there are some art font exceptions but I don't recall ever seeing one.
Edit: When I was a kid, fonts were literally art supplies that you'd buy in an art supply store.
I'm interested about that "simple crawler" you mentioned. Maybe for Dinamo and PT, print is a big market for them? I'm totally agree if it's easier that way.
Yeah, I'd totally use the same analogy, a tool like a hammer, but each time I use it, should I pay for it? This makes me think about my analogy above. Maybe buying license each time for a new client could mean buying them their own hammer to use? Does this even makes sense. Maybe I'm going to far with this analogy. I'm trying to grasp a concept I can rely on. Would love to hear more about your thoughts and point of view on this matter.
May I ask why is that?
BTW funny how Eris didn't get a volley of shadowy Disagree reactions for saying the same thing...
But even then, some clients simply do not want to manage font licenses. Especially webfonts with the pay-as-you-go model. We never could convince a client of licensing a font using such a non-periodic payment model. Subscriptions are much more attractive because they are paid regularly and are thus easier to manage for the client.
Free fonts are simple to manage, and I am sure that was the reason they got picked in many cases. Confusing or non-permissive licenses can be a deterrent for clients, much like a high price.
1. We really do see purchases from large companies for small projects (for instance Nestlé got a license for a little anniversary series for a small sub brand). I don't want to disincentivize that stuff.
2. When big companies violate a license it's pretty easy to prove, especially these days with embedding. So coming out of the gate assuming they are either clueless or trying to get away with something strikes me as both unnecessarily adversarial and not worth the risk.
3. It really does chase customers fully into the arms of Adobe and Google, which does none of us any good. I mean, most of our customers at this point have some hybrid licensing with Adobe covering some of their users/uses, and I don't want to be hostile to that.
4. This model seems much more suited to custom font licensing than to retail from what I can tell. In that case the customer is committed, planning on using the font in a brand intensive way, and you already have a relationship in the event you need to negotiate. That's not compatible with my business model of trying to make most of my money from retail.