Type pricing and licensing: as a tool or material?



  • @Mark Simonson Agreed:

    To me in Design self-expression happens in spite of you, versus being the purpose. BUT: no act of creating is pure Art or Design, always somewhere in between.
  • @Alex Visi I hate to be pedantic and technical but the word "font" literally refers to the software.  The word to describe the collection of glyphs is "typeface".  I know, I know, that's not how anyone (including me) uses it in the day to day world.  I point this out because, when we think about the business side of the things the technical meanings can be a useful framework on which to base decisions.
    A bit off-topic but: I agree, as you always have to refer to technical features, and/or limitations.
    Personally, I never use the word "font" unless indicating the software and the specific computer files.
    I seem to get the origin of the word has always been related to a specific point size+style of the typeface. I like the italian term which was used in lead, that is "serie" (series) as it is very explicative, less equivocal than "style". "Font", on the other side, is not equivocal in any way. Especially when used outside English it becomes very explanatory of the nature of digital type as software/files.
  • Now I began thinking more of how to simplify licensing, but I have no experience whatsoever. The only thing I can think of now is having a Universal Licensing template and a way to manage License files, a better mechanism.

    Can we have few Universal Licensing templates that can be shorten down to lists like this? https://choosealicense.com/appendix/ (I know these are Open Source license). Of course we'll need to make list of the criteria/attributes for font licensing. Universal means foundries and type designers can use the template, and license owners knows exactly what it allows and disallows. The license details will still be complex but we can easily get a summary.

    I don't know if this borderline impossible or plain dumb idea.

  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 766
    @Laurensius no, we can't.  That would be illegal price fixing (even if everyone had their own pricing, having the same product list counts)
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 766
    @Christopher Slye How much of that resistance do you think comes down to a belief that fonts are simple and that therefore anything complicated is inappropriate for fonts?  I feel like I hear that a lot.  It would also explain why the same customers are fine with other components of their brand requiring similar maintenance.  
  • @JoyceKetterer I think that’s a big part of it! I also think (digital) fonts have always been regarded as trivial, less-valuable pieces of software because they’re so often deployed in quantities, or for free (e.g. system fonts). I’ve always thought fonts and songs are similar in this way. People like to collect them, trade them, share their favorites... “simple” is a good word association for this mentality. Lots of people just think it’s obnoxious to treat fonts as complex, valuable things.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 766
    @Christopher Slye yeah, and that's because they don't understand that fonts are objectively complex and expensive to make.  That feels to me like the thing that would make the most difference if we could do some education.  But I've no idea how to clear that hurdle.
  • I also agree with @James Puckett

    @JoyceKetterer I think this is a marketing problem? It's also helpful to see why designers buy fonts. I found a great article that might help. https://medium.com/font-stuff/results-of-the-2019-font-purchasing-habits-survey-39339f591a6c

  • The distribution of free fonts by the likes of Google, dafont, etc. certainly doesn't help to create an understanding of value in the consumer mind. 
  • @Oliver Weiss (Walden Font Co.) I think it will be shocking to hear the cost of making "free" fonts available in Google Fonts that are commissioned by them. Dafont is even worse, it's free and poorer quality.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,319
    edited May 2021
    Oliver, actually I think the wide availability of libre fonts has grown the overall marketplace by allowing more people to see the benefits of real web fonts, and go on to license other fonts. Imagining a world where no libre fonts are available, many less people would use different fonts as much. 

    Even with over 1,000 families, most people aren't satisfied with only libre fonts. As long as the price isn't onerous, they don't care about the licensing terms too much, they care about the typography. Their lack of interest in licensing terms is also the main reason why they fall out of compliance. The highest traffic web pages using libre fonts often also have licensed fonts. 

    Laurensius, I'm curious why you think it would be shocking, and if that's because you think it's very low or very high. 

    (This is also a real names forum, please update your profile to use your real name and append your foundry/trade name)
  • @Dave Crossland Shocking as in really high. That it takes a lot of money to make a font. It's just Google paid for them to make it available for free (those commissioned by Google).

    Btw, this is my real name, I go by Laurensius Studio (https://laurensi.us/studio) for my studio name thus the LS. I don't think I should write my name twice.
  • Paul HanslowPaul Hanslow Posts: 137
    Btw, this is my real name, I go by Laurensius Studio (https://laurensi.us/studio) for my studio name thus the LS. I don't think I should write my name twice.
    Hi Laurensius, if that's the case could you please update your handle to your full name 'Laurensius Adi' as we use all full names on TypeDrawers. Thanks for your understanding. 
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,319
    Ray, perhaps. One thing why perhaps not it's that Typekit was tiny. Everyone who would ever visit this website is in a bubble, and when everyone you know knows what you know, it can be hard to conceive of how few people overall knows that stuff. 

    So, I don't think it's a sure thing that web fonts would be ubiquitous today without libre web font options for everyone.

    Laurensius, got it. Good to hear :) A while ago I / google fonts had a bad reputation for not paying enough, although these days I think we are at the top of the market... I've always wanted to land generous deals between google fonts and designers, but I've also always been constrained by the budget available to the team, much more so in the early years. 
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,319
    John Hudson said:

    The uptake of webfonts was incredibly rapid as soon as the format was agreed
    I don't think the data supports that at all - for me this just demonstrates the bubble effect I described :)
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,818
    That may well be the case.
  • Nick CurtisNick Curtis Posts: 118
    I call my fonts ”working tools for working professionals,” and price them accordingly—which is to say, cheap enough to acquire many.

    As far as pricing goes for "enterprise" licensing, I go by the size of the group being served by the tools—which is to say, the Art/Design team, not every Tom. Dick and Harry on the payroll.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,319
    What data does NOT support my claim that it took years and years before web fonts became the standard method for delivering type online, and it was not a incredibly rapid change as soon as woff1 was agreed on?

    Your own data shows even in 2011 it was a small fraction :) 

    I expect Httparchive data would also show this, I believe they published a graph of web font adoption. Maybe Alexa also. Its been a few years since I looked at these public data. Nothing internal to Google needed 
  • Can you show me a "new trend" that doesn't have a large cohort of people advocating for it years before?  Everything is always slow until it's suddenly fast.  As a white person, I'd not heard of Juneteenth till last year and now it's a city holiday for which parking rules are suspended.  
  • @Dave Crossland I’m sorry, I guess I misunderstood you. I thought you meant the data proves libre fonts specifically gave rise to an increase of commercial webfont use. My point is that it was the broader availability of commercial webfonts from various foundries that increased their use.
  • Nick CurtisNick Curtis Posts: 118
    I call my fonts Working tools for working people; hence, the choice of font should aid and abet the message, not detract from it.

  • Nick CurtisNick Curtis Posts: 118
    Déjà-vu all over again…
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 407
    It's possible to make a living releasing free fonts. My free-ish fonts come with a commercial use desktop license. They generate income from sales of non-free fonts in the same family as well as embedding licenses and donations.  
    From memory, some of your fonts were the first commercial ones I paid for, largely because I had been using your free type in the late 90s/early 00s and trusted you/them. So your plan worked on me ha
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