Unlimited LIcensing

Michael JarboeMichael Jarboe Posts: 265
edited October 2014 in Type Business
I'm accustomed to extended licensing being handled on a client by client and usage basis. I was approached by a firm that would like to secure licensing for all extended usage outside of standard desktop licensing (web, broadcast, embedding, etc.) for an unlimited duration for unlimited clients (for a limited number of users, they didn't specify the amount of styles they want to use).

I've never heard of a scenario such as this, it seems unrealistic. Does anyone have experience with this where a design firm would secure unlimited licensing use for a font for all their clients. I'm used to pricing out extended licensing case by case, based on usage, for single clients.

Any advice?


  • that sounds very strange to me, I'd want an unlimited fee for that.
  • …for an unlimited duration for unlimited clients…
    Does that mean they want to distribute the fonts to said clients? Or is this an agency that wants to use the fonts with all its clients for any purpose?
  • James yes, an agency that wants to use the fonts with all clients for any purpose.
  • Something this open ended is somewhere between a brand license and a total buy out, so you're easily talking +20k per style. Chances are they're trying to make things really easy for themselves to manage (and sell to clients). Schedule a call with them and talk them through what their needs really are. Then call Frank.
  • Well to clarify for any extended licensing that includes a 'duration' period such as Broadcast… they would want no annual limitation.
  • Frank Martinez, Esq.? Lol
  • Yeah, it just seems unrealistic. It makes sense that an agency would seek that as it would be a best case scenario for them.

    If you price out a 'buy out' of unlimited usage for a single style for one client it can get really costly. To amplify that for multiple styles, unlimited clients, unlimited duration for uses that are priced by duration it just seems excessive.

    It kind of justifies why things are calculated per style, per client as how do you put a realistic price on such an 'unlimited' licensing scenario?
  • Yeah, it just seems unrealistic.
    It does, but some agencies have absurd piles of money to throw around.
    …as how do you put a realistic price on such an 'unlimited' licensing scenario?
    Call Frank and get him to do it.
  • Thanks James, I agree, time to contact Frank.
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 277
    Ask for 25% above what you would change if this were a custom work-for-hire job, where the customer would own the work.
  • Thanks for the advice Ray!
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 237
    edited April 2017
    I also have a question along similar lines to this custom, unlimited licensing pricing. I have some ballpark numbers in mind based on what is out there and already discussed, but I would really appreciate any more thoughts from you all to lean against to provide a fair quote for all...

    Someone has reached out on behalf of a company who would like a quote for a worldwide, unlimited, all-inclusive license of two styles from one of my already existing fonts. They are not asking for exclusivity.

    In essence, it's a "brand" license where the company will have the two fonts as a brand asset to use and provide to all of their employees and all current and future affiliates and partners to the brand (agencies, printers, businesses that sell the brands product and are creating their own in-house ads for the brand, etc.).

    Platforms for usage would also be unlimited: desktop, web, apps, epub, etc. And it would be in perpetuity, so no page count limits or expiration time. Just one flat fee.

    Any thoughts about something reasonable?

  • Adam, I would make sure to still limit it to whatever license types you want to limit it to. That way you can build a pricing system for yourself that allows you to come up with pricing for this when a customer only wants one licensing type with an unlimited tier, or two of them, or three, or all of the ones you offer.

    I would also structure the supplier licensing (them giving it to third parties) as an additional license & licensing fee, only available as an add-on for unlimited licensing customers.
  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 237
    Thierry, thank you for your reply and thoughts about options for how to break this out. I appreciate it.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,319
    If you are not able to come to terms, you could tell them to pick a libre font
  • If you are not able to come to terms, you could tell them to pick a libre font
    Hi Dave,

At the risk of being off-topic too, I am just wondering what the intent of your message is. Do you mean that customers should realize that there are free alternatives and that basically all fonts are interchangeable anyway? This will make Libre fonts forceful weapons in the hands of potential customers for negotiations, I reckon. If that is what you mean, then I think that you should rephrase ‘Libre/open fonts are about freedom, not price’* into something like  ‘Libre/open fonts are about restricting the freedom of non-Libre designers because of their price’.

    * https://fontlibrary.org/fr/guidebook/libre_open_fonts
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 985
    edited April 2017
    Great point, Pablo. You're thinking about the issue from the original poster’s perspective as a professional type designer. (Dave’s post was not.) Developing a new custom face under an SIL license is a real option that can benefit Michael and his client.
  • I'd be very reluctant to agree to this.  

    One, pricing for add-on licensing is rarely done in a vacuum.  Foundries price web embedding, just to take one, based on as assessment of the use (usually traffic) as applied to pricing tiers.  So, the only choice when pricing for "unlimited clients and unlimited use with no time frame" is to price at your highest possible prices for a very high number of clients and uses.  And even then you might be wrong.

    Two, unless they are required to report each client project to you then you how no way knowing if a given observed use is licensed.  And I'm sure they don't want to report to you since, as Pablo pointed out, the whole point of this seems to be to remove all friction for them.

    If I did agree to this I'd do it for a short period (one or two years) as a test.  I'd require they keep careful records so we could review and reassess the pricing at the end of that term.

  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 237
    edited April 2017
    Thanks for your feedback Joyce. I think you and Pablo are probably right in that the main goal is to remove as much licensing and future licensing difficulty and worry as possible (which I understand and see the benefit of). Yeah, may take some continued exploration/testing down the road, but I do have a better sense of the ballpark. Appreciate everyone's replies.
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