Having read through the last post about Monotype Acquisition endeavours, I notice no one talking about changes to the new agreement , and what that means going forward for both the foundries and Monotype. ( For those currently on Monotype/Myfonts) It would be interesting to see what peoples thoughts are.
The other topic I'd like to hear more on , is no one seems to realise that the actual big earning takeaways Monotype make are not from the website e-commerce sales, but from the Enterprise sales and Offline deals. If I look at my own sales, individual Desktop and Webfont Licenses are only the tip of the iceberg, if you compare them to a Corporate/Special/' Offline' License.
I imagine acquisition strengthens their income mostly in this regard.
The takeaways of the new agreement BTW are, if you sign:
- You have to include all your fonts on their system ( you can't pick and choose, if your font exists somewhere else - you have to include it on Monotype) .
- Their system spans across all channels , current, and currently non-existant : Myfonts, Fontshop, Monotype fonts, Linotype etc, fonts.com , so your fonts have to be on all channels, not just one or two.
- A mutual NDA...a first.
- You have to notify them if you are intending to sell your foundry/ be part of a subscription service, 3 months in advance. I wonder what they do if you don't. Yikes.
I think these are the main points? Anyone spot any more?
Anyway - thought this all deserved a little discussion too for interests sake.
My opinion is that points 1 and 4 are unacceptable, and I am unpleasantly surprised despite what we have seen in the last few years.
This and the announcement of their offers for mass acquisition start to shape the emerging Monotype attitude towards independent type designers/partners in the near future...
NDA is for specifics of a particular partnership. We came to the point of monopoly where communication about the general terms and policies is prohibited. I imagine that prohibition might be considered a breach of the 1st Amendment.
In this case, Monotype is so leaky that the terms of the new contract can hardly be considered confidential. I received an invitation to their recent foundry webinar, even though Tiro is not under any kind of contract with Monotype, and we have not sold any fonts through Monotype companies since the 1990s. I did not attend the online seminar, but Monotype kindly sent me a link and password to watch the recording.
As a metaphor, it would be like if one opens a street store without windows, and says "If you want to go in, you have to sign the contract that I can do to you whatever I want". No matter how many lunatics would sign and enter, one can't do to them whatever one wants.
It's dangerous to understand the law as a completely bureaucratic machine, hence the distinction between legal and legitimate. There is an unspoken ethic system above any law.
Of course due to their size but also because of the following:
- Counter-competitive practices shown for example in this very agreement;
- Acting both as a player and referee in this market.
Are there points here that could be considered illegal?
Is it simply that this industry is not too known itself that lets this fly under the radar?
I uploaded a new typeface a few days ago, and I was notified of the existence of a new contract, but didn't sign it.
1. An NDA is these days quite common in business practice. Many B2B contracts are signed with non-disclosure clauses. The general justification for it seems to be that if you've signed a contract with another party, that party may disclose to you some of their upcoming plans which they don't want to unveil to the public yet.
2. A somewhat redeeming aspect is that it's said here that the NDA is supposed to be mutual, that is, Monotype is also not supposed to disclose your own plans or practices or info that you give them.
3. A somewhat less positive aspect is if you consider the reality of the power distribution: there is one major entity and many smaller ones. So one can see it as an attempt to stifle the font vendors talking to each other, a bit like NDAs that prevent employees from talking to each other about their own salaries. This mechanism gives the dominant party an ability to discriminate terms: offer different terms to each foundry (often: gradually more beneficial to the dominant party), and not worry that the smaller parties will talk about it and find out that they're not getting the same treatment.
In principle, I don't see anything outlandish in what's been reported here, but it's hard to tell without seeing the details. Of course the fact that the setup is "you sign it or else" shows that there is some sort of strongarming going on. It certainly doesn't feel "nice."
If people think that MT is engaging in anticompetitive, monopolistic practices — well, there are regulatory bodies in the U.S. that deal with that.