Monotype End User License Agreement - Commercial Printers



Sorry to always be pestering you guys about font licensing but I am confused by this agreement list below. 

I am confused by the sentence that reads: (You may take a copy of the Font Software used for a particular document to a commercial printer provided that the printer represents to you that it has purchased or been granted a license to use that particular Font Software.)


Monotype Font Software End User License Agreement:
5. Commercial Printers. You may embed the Font Software in an electronic document solely for print and view and provide such electronic document to a commercial printer for printing only. You may take a copy of the Font Software used for a particular document to a commercial printer provided that the printer represents to you that it has purchased or been granted a license to use that particular Font Software.


Does this mean that the printer has to own a license as well? The phrase "represents to you" seems vague.
Does my license not cover the printer?
What if the font in question is no longer available to license at monotype--can I outline the fonts to solve this issue?
If the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription font activation system has the font will that solve the problem?



  • James Puckett
    James Puckett Posts: 1,979
    Ask Monotype what they intend that to mean. Maybe the lawyer who wrote it was under the weather. They can’t seriously expect printers to buy font licenses.
  • k.l.
    k.l. Posts: 109
    edited May 2023
    This is how it was in the good old days. The 1999 Agfa/Monotype Creative Alliance 9.0 book, for example, essentially said so too but the other way round: requiring that printers license fonts too if provided with open files that they can edit (PageMaker, XPress, InDesign), yet as a generous exception allowing licensees to provide printers with closed files that printers cannot edit (PDF).
  • Justin Penner
    Justin Penner Posts: 65
    edited May 2023
    I don't see much ambiguity in this license excerpt, but I also have the unique experience of being a typeface designer and a prepress operator at a print shop. Here's my interpretation:

    If you have a document such as a PDF that has the font embedded in it, you're OK to send it to a commercial printer as long as they're doing nothing more than viewing and/or printing it. That covers the majority of scenarios where you're using a commercial print vendor.

    On the off chance that the printer needs to edit your document and they need a copy of the font in order to do so, the printer must clearly state (this is what "represents" means in legalese) to you that they have their own license to use the font.

    I can also say that in my experience it's exceedingly rare that a printer would ever need a copy of the fonts you used in order to make some edits. If the edits involve changes to the text it would virtually always go back to the client for their designer to make changes and then send you a new PDF. Your experiences may vary with other print shops, but if they're not making changes to the text, they should not need fonts in order to make edits with tools like Adobe Illustrator and Acrobat.
  • Christopher Slye
    A version of this language was part of Adobe’s font EULA forever — until maybe 8 or 9 years ago, when I suggested that we replace the part about a printer needing its own font license with a more familiar requirement that fonts only be used to print the client’s own work.

    In the earlier, simpler years of desktop publishing, I think it was understandable to require printers to have their own license. For a time, it was common for any credible service bureau to have its own copy of Adobe Font Folio. As time went on, that requirement became increasingly silly, IMO.

    As for the OP’s specific question... well, obviously nobody should answer those questions except the parties to the agreement and their own legal counsel. In my non-lawyer opinion:
    • The license does not cover the printer.
    • Outlining the fonts is probably acceptable. (Read the fine print.)
    • If the font is in Adobe Fonts, then it solves the problem. Note that there is a non-zero chance that the service has a different font version which could cause document reflow (which is why a PDF is always preferable).
    Incidentally, this explains why having access to the font files was never really necessary if one was using CC applications. Anyone with a subscription to, say, InDesign CC would also get Typekit/Adobe Fonts with it, so all one has to do is send their InDesign file to a printer, and if the printer had InDesign (which they must), they would also be able to sync the same fonts.