Should a Desktop License include Use in Online Design Tools?

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There has been a lot of discussion around what grants of right a Desktop Use license should include and I'd like to put it to the group to provide their thoughts. By default, as font creators, we accept that a Desktop Use license allows all paid licensed End Users the ability to download and install a font file locally on computers they use to surface in Desktop applications.

Do we also assume that licensed End Users of a Desktop Use license can add these fonts to a variety of online based design tools or services that they use for design via a web browser?

Does this use constitute the need for a new type of license all together? Should it have its own fee structure? Should it be part of the default Desktop Use license at the time of purchase? Should it require an additional licensing fee?

Everybody has their own case whether they are a font buyer or a font seller and their perspective will inform their answer but sincerely I'd like to approach this discussion without bias to understand what is best for all parties. Thank you in advance for sharing your insights with the community.

Comments

  • Jess Latham
    Jess Latham Posts: 38
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    Stuart, you probably already know what I think. Yes, absolutely, a regular desktop license should include use in cloud apps. Is there a reseller that expressly doesn't allow it?
  • Thierry Blancpain
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    It should include the use of tools like Figma. It does not necessarily need to include the use of tools like Canva, which might be better served with a license that focuses on the numerical output (how many documents created / year) than the number of users — sometimes that’s 5000 users who create 3 documents per year each, and that’s what made us move to a document creation license for that kind of tool that’s more focused on templated design usage.

    There’s arguments to be made for either case here but that’s where we landed.
  • Nadine Chahine
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    Excellent question and I agree with Thomas. My recommendation would be to explicitly prohibit the use of the fonts in apps with multi-user access. So if you're one person using Figma fine, but if there's an entire team working on a Figma project and only one user has a license, then not a good idea.

    Please keep in mind that one only needs a local copy of the font for text editing and resizing in Figma. So a whole team can work off just one license and that seems at odds with how users in the desktop license are counted.

    Further, collaborative online work is the way forward, that is pretty clear by now. So our licenses would need to adapt to that reality. 
  • Stuart Sandler
    Stuart Sandler Posts: 352
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    I definitely agree the total number of End Users should never exceed what was purchased but it would be quite difficult too clearly express usage limits to users of these services (document limit, eBook, websites, etc) and hope they're respected.

    For clarity, please explain why does Figma get different treatment than Canva or other online design tools?
  • John Hudson
    John Hudson Posts: 3,034
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    I need to review our license to see if it makes sense to add explicit about online design tools, but in general we approach this as akin to installation on a local server, i.e. it is an implementation of the device use license in which the number of users having access to the fonts on the server/tool must not exceed the number of users in the license purchase limitations.

    I’m not keen on the document quantiity model, because it makes a weird distinction between creating a document in a page layout app running on a local computer and creating a document in an equivalent app running on the Web. Unless the online app itself is going to somehow manage the document count and apply the restriction, it seems unenforceable. Also, does such a license restriction make a distinction between draft documents and final documents? How?
  • Thierry Blancpain
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    This is because most users of Canva are in a corporate environment where templates are set up once, and then exported with some adjustments. These exports are usually not edited by a designer but by a general user, i.e. more of a text field editor logic.

    We apply the same licensing to server-created documents. This could be for business card ordering processes, that is a web interface for employees to order their own business cards by entering name, role, phone, etc. in a web form interface. Or for the creation of hundreds of thousands of invoices for customers of a utility company every month, to give you another example. A desktop licensing logic doesn’t make any sense here (often there’s no font installation happening at all), and instead it’s about automated document creation.

    Canva sits in between the two worlds of desktop use and automated document creation. But in speaking with our users, we found that they’re more likely to be closer to that second world of automated document creation in that they just export thousands of documents per year based on a few actually designed templates.

    In Figma, they need to have the fonts installed locally for such a use case. In Canva, they don’t. As such, we decided to treat these two services / apps differently.
  • jeremy tribby
    jeremy tribby Posts: 233
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    In Figma, they need to have the fonts installed locally for such a use case. In Canva, they don’t. As such, we decided to treat these two services / apps differently.
    I think that depends on the plan - enterprise plans and organization plans make it possible to upload a font file to figma for teams to use and doesn’t require local installation
  • Stuart Sandler
    Stuart Sandler Posts: 352
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    Thank you for the insight Thierry! Given that, how do you communicate to the customer not to share templates in Canva? What mechanism have you implemented to preserve what your EULA allows? Do you sell a Canva specific license?
  • Thierry Blancpain
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    Thank you for the insight Thierry! Given that, how do you communicate to the customer not to share templates in Canva? What mechanism have you implemented to preserve what your EULA allows? Do you sell a Canva specific license?
    Generally speaking, this licensing is always purchased in addition to other licensing types. It’s not really an issue from our point of view, we’re not here to police our licensees super hardcore as long as they are overall trying to cover their uses. I know some foundries employ (and easily pay for) lawyers on their staff just to go after licensing infringement. I’d rather not run that kind of foundry, personally.

    It’s called our Server license add-on and can cover Canva but also the above-mentioned other uses that fall under the umbrella term of automated document creation.