Dual font license question

I purchased a font with a desktop license at MyFonts. I checked the EULA twice before I placed the order. It was their standard Monotype desktop license. I made the purchase and downloaded the receipt PDF. The PDF had a link to the same license at MyFonts.com. I then downloaded the font file. When I opened the zip I found that there were (2) EULA licenses: a Monotype and a foundry license. 

My question is: can a font purchase have 2 conflicting licenses? I thought a license was similar to a contract. These licenses are radically different with one having many more restrictions and those restrictions were never mentioned at their website.

I emailed MyFonts. They kind of suggested that their Monotype license was the agreement I should follow but their language in the email was vague. So, I replied asking if I should ignore the 2nd foundry license. Their response was: we are negotiating with the foundry and they will get back to me.

At the time of purchase the EULA had only a Monotype license and no mention of a 2nd license.

Is it legal to have (2) licenses? If it is legal shouldn’t the customer be made aware of this before the purchase?

Thanks,

—James

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Comments

  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 658
    edited March 12
    Thank you for telling us about this, we need to know.  My foundry isn't with myfonts exactly because of this sort of thing. 

    Though I am not a lawyer, I believe you are 100% right about a EULA being a contract.  

    My guess is that Monotype is supposed to present you with the foundry license when you make your purchase and they are ignoring that obligation.  The reason for them to do that is partly laziness (it takes some work to present multiple licenses iteratively at purchase point, especially when you might license fonts from more than one designer/foundry) and partly craven.  That is to say, there is a degree to which you are caught in the middle with Monotype trying to usurp the authority of the foundry. 

    It's important that foundries know Monotype might be doing this.   That said, I'm just speculating.  The only way to know for sure is to contact the foundry that made the font you licensed and ask them.  If they say that Monotype was supposed to only show you the foundry license then that solves the mystery of who should be your counter party to the contact.  However, this is where things get tricky, because you weren't presented with that contract when you made the purchase. 

    To really know which license you're bound to in this scenario you'd need to ask a lawyer.  I don't want to ever be confronted with this question in my business dealings, so I avoid Monotype. 
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,241
    I am not a lawyer, and I don’t even play one on TV, but I would be pretty shocked if you could be unwillingly bound to a license OTHER than the one and only license you were presented with prior to purchase. (Absent terms in the original license that allow a change, or you actively agreeing to the new license.)
  • Joyce, Thomas,

    Thanks for the info. I am hoping MyFonts and the foundry can work this out and simply agree to the license I thought I purchased. Otherwise I will purchase a different font & license.

    Something seems to be going on with font resellers. Some of them seem to want to streamline EULA to be consistent for all fonts they sell. And some type designers don't want that.

    --James
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 658
    edited March 13
    James -
    I understand being rattled by this. I'd be too. I hope I can reassure you a bit.... There's a good chance the foundry eula is better than the monotype eula.  The bar is low.  When I teach my eula workshop everyone agrees the monotype eula is a badly written mess.  Also, even without knowing who the foundry is I can say they are probably a less litigious and bullying counter party.  I hope that helps
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 658
    edited March 13
    @Thomas Phinney I'm not a lawyer either, which is why I said James would need to ask one.  My guess is you're right about what james can be held too. However,  I'm not sure what it would mean if monotype is issuing their own eula without the authority to do so. It could be a huge mess.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 658
    edited March 13
    Sorry for the multiple posts.  One other thing.... Most foundry eulas state that the eula goes into effect if you install the fonts. It's a version of "browse wrapper" intended to bind pirates. Browse wrapper, in general, has gone out of fashion because it got a reputation for being hard to enforce.   I'm not sure if the font eula version has ever been tested in court so it might not be enforceable.  But, it also might be enforceable. These are questions for a lawyer but if it's not been tested even they can only guess. If so, it might override monotype's "error" in presenting their it own eula.   That assumes that clause is in this eula.  But it's worth checking.  
  • I will probably go with a different font like Gotham or Proxima Nova. Proxima Nova is beautiful.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 658
    @James Bridges Thank you so much for sharing your perspective with us.  It's useful for me to see how customers who read EULA think about them (I mostly interact with customers who don't think about EULAs at all).

    As an independent foundry owner and license expert I hope you will give indie licenses a chance.  They are often better than the monotype one, though not always.  If you have specific concerns about this EULA it might be worth reaching out to the foundry to ask them for clarification.  Often, they have standard ways of addressing common questions for a small fee, which are too complicated to display on reseller websites.  


  • UPDATE:

    MyFonts emailed me and told me to use the Monotype EULA. Ignore the other one. They have since converted all that particular foundry's fonts to the standard desktop MyFonts Monotype license. They said they would fix the dual license problem. I am guessing they had a dispute with the foundry and it got worked out. They never told me why. 

    I am not hostile to type designers having desktop licenses with additional restrictions (like limited to 250,000 printed units). They should do what they want--its their work product. 

    I buy font licenses from independents. No problem there.

    The real issue was the download included (2) conflicting EULA docs and I did not know what to do. 


  • Update 2:

    I spoke too soon. After viewing MyFonts website over the weekend and seeing they were showing Monotype licenses I see now that they reverted back again to specific foundry licenses. Strange. MyFonts might be re-doing their website often or it is broken. Or they are changing the EULA every few days to test which sells more product. I have no idea why licenses would change three times in a week. Does anyone here know?
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,838
    Update 2:

    MyFonts might be re-doing their website often or it is broken.
    It’s been broken in various ways for a while now. I’ve seen some big names complaining about it on Twitter.
  • Something is rotten at MyFonts. I no longer trust them. I am going to try to avoid them when possible.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 658
    @James Bridges As much as I'd love to believe that EULAs effect font sales, I've long since come to accept that my life's work is largely invisible to customers.  Till it isn't, that is.  I think what you describe on the myfonts site is extremely weird, both because EULAs really mostly don't effect sales and also because that's a paperwork nightmare for a seller.  It's just more proof that monotype is stupid more often than it is evil.

    I do have a problem with indie licenses that restrict printed units (often it's impressions, which is even worse) because it's basically impossible to accurately count and enforce.  I also have a problem with logo licensing, broadcast, and social media.  If all static uses are covered under the basic license, essentially tying the licensing to work flow, it's ever so much easier for end users to remember and comply with the license. 

    Now that you're sour on myfonts, may I suggest Adobe Creative Cloud?  It's not the same, obviously (you'll need to go to the foundries directly for self hosted web fonts and app) but you get the basic level of use of all the fonts for the CC subscription fee.  AND, they are all under the same basic terms which include all static uses.   

  • Joyce:
    1) I can't use fonts that restrict the quantity of printed units. That puts clients at risk.
    2) Are you talking about using Adobe activated fonts thru Creative Cloud? I have used activated fonts from time to time. Good idea. Thanks. Do the font designers get paid when a font is activated? I only use desktop fonts. I don't need web or app fonts.
  • Yes, with the Adobe Fonts service, designers get paid according to the number of users who activate and use fonts each month.
  • Joyce:
    Any font license that reads like this: NO LARGE VOLUME COMMERCIAL USE OF MORE THAN 250,000 INSTANCES is not a font I would consider. I wonder if that turns off most designers. I have a feeling most independent designers or small design firms rarely read an EULA because they wrongly assume they are all the same. Which makes me wonder: are these types of desktop licenses intended to ensnare suckers for a lawsuit payout? Most of us don't read the legal agreement when we install an iPhone OS update. I don't know. I read EULA because I know there are type designers that litigate regularly. You might know a few. Maybe that is part of their business model. Give it away to the free sites that offer personal use, or let them pirate, and hope pros screw up. 
  • MyFonts is changing EULA on certain offenders. Creative Market does not allow those type of licenses. As of now FontSpring allows it but that will probably change now that they are part of the Creative Market group of companies.
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 658
    @James Bridges no, they aren't intentional a trap (with one notable exception that you can't probably. guess but I wont name).  It's an attempt to definite commercial (and make personal use cheaper) all to the end of being fair.  Just a bunch of smart creative people who find complexity comforting and don't understand that it DEFINITELY LOOKS LIKE A TRAP.  Yes, most of them know I think this (it's a small industry and I talk about this a lot) and think I'm just a silly business side person who doesn't know what graphic designers think.  Thank you for helping to prove my point.
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 350
    edited March 18
    @James Bridges just to echo something @JoyceKetterer
    said earlier, if you contact the foundry directly they will usually be very helpful. I've always had good dealings when I contact a foundry, just be aware they are busy so sometimes can take a few weeks to reply. But I have navigated complex questions and situations by just emailing them or sending them a message on their business social media.

    The other reseller I recommend you try is I Love Typography. I've just started using them and they have been very helpful when I had questions, plus it seems like a large number of indies are signing up with them and saying it's been a good experience. 
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,347
    As Joyce says, sometimes when you see some odd restriction in a EULA, it is evidence of the foundry trying to find some way to be fair while addressing the huge imbalances in the font market. Sometimes it is also evidence of some particular history: to paraphrase Rich Roat of House Industries, a EULA is a record of all the ways in which a foundry has been screwed.

    Foundries have come up with various ideas to address the imbalances between individual users and large corporations, and between small and large scale use of fonts. How do you make fonts affordable for individuals while also ensuring that license income in some way reflects derived value in large scale use? Since 2009, the market has grown used to the idea of licensing models that reflect unit-based usage for web fonts and ebook or app embedding, so something like impression-based print media licensing looks to some foundries like a reasonable equivalance.
  • James BridgesJames Bridges Posts: 41
    edited March 21
    It appears that some type designers feel like they are getting screwed. That sounds familiar. I am not a typeface designer but I have probably created more than 400 unique hand made sets of letterforms over the years for titles for movies or games. I have created custom fonts but have never offered them publicly. Just for clients.

    I have always been amazed that graphic designers tend to give away their work without any rules or restrictions on usage. We do the work. Send it to the client and move on. In the old days photographers and illustrators always specified use. There was a point when my clients would ask for (TOTAL BUYOUT) for photography and illustration but they never asked that of me or any design firm I ever worked for. Isnt that strange? 

    I too feel like we get screwed but it has always been that way.

    Meanwhile, there is CANVA and Adobe is trying to offer low-cost, easy to use services to amatuers and screw over designers who pay monthly subscriptions to use their apps.

    Adobe seems to not respect their customers. 

    I think Adobe is about to announce a huge rate increase for CC. Why am I not surprised?
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,241
    edited March 21
    I think Adobe is about to announce a huge rate increase for CC. Why am I not surprised?
    What is the basis of this belief?
  • JoyceKettererJoyceKetterer Posts: 658
    @James Bridges I know that some foundries feel they are getting screwed by Adobe.  It makes me really sad...  When I've talked to some of them about it I honestly thought they were being irrational. As a woman, I hesitate to diminish someone else by hand waving their convictions as irrational.  But, seriously, it's always old guard folks who's arguments seem to mostly be "this is a change and I don't trust it" rather than anything genuinely concrete.  

    For those of us who were positioned to not care if we reallocated the bulk of basic licensing to Adobe, and positioned to capture referrals for the things Adobe doesn't support, it's been a boon.  That is, not just financially (which it is) but also it's made the business easier to not have to think about basic licensing as much.

    And I'm not complaining that the old guard doesn't like the Adobe arrangement.  Our Halyard broke even two years earlier than projected and is booming, I'm convinced, mostly because Helvetica isn't on Adobe.  The whole point of Halyard is to be a Helvetica killer but they gave us a huge assist by not competing with us on the CC platform.  Total own goal, thank Monotype for being reliably stupid.

    I feel like most of my job is giving clients what they need rather than exactly what they asked for.  Often what they ask for is an over reach because they don't actually understand they can achieve what they need with less.  Most of the people I know who feel screwed are the ones who don't know how to do this dance.  I help where I can but they don't always listen (e.g. large volume licensing).  
  • Thomas:
    They are sending out those questionaires like they did when they went from standalone software to subscription. We'll see. Ask me in 6 months.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,241
    That certainly sounds like they are considering a pricing change. But I am not hearing any evidence that they are planning a “huge rate increase.”
  • I have a suspicion that Adobe intends to make the suite a higher price and focus on making individual apps a la carte as a way to hide the rate increase. Personally, I feel like Adobe has shown no loyalty to longtime users by creating amatuer, easy to use apps for Joe or Janet Blow to use to compete against CANVA. Expecting loyalty from any corporation is pointless.
  • Marc OxborrowMarc Oxborrow Posts: 211
    Is your tongue in cheek, @James Puckett or do you consider a price increase of 3.8% to 6.3% to be "huge"?
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,241
    I am certainly not seeing a “huge rate increase.” Individual rates get a 3.8% increase, teams get 6.3% (or 5.9% for a single app). Adobe’s last price increase was four years ago. Inflation (in the USA) over the same period has been about 13%. So “a third to half of inflation” seems a LOT less than “huge.”
    • Annual subscription for individuals All Apps plan billed monthly will increase from $52.99 to $54.99 per month (3.8%);
    • Monthly subscription for individuals All Apps will increase from $79.49 to $82.49 per month (3.8%);
    • Subscriptions to single apps for teams will increase from $33.99 per month to $35.99 per month (5.9%);
    • All Apps for teams will increase from $79.99 per month to $84.99 per month (6.3%).
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