I am working on defining a special license for usage of the font in animation.
This is because an animated font is a separate product, so I would like to prohibit users to animate the font (decompose glyph parts/animate them) and sell it as a derivative product (or at least this would require a special license). On the other side, I feel that common usage of the font in animation is completely OK (for example letters of the text appear from different directions and have a glitch effect etc.).
In other words, it's ok to use the font in animation but it's not ok to animate the font. In this sense, I differ two levels: "text level animation" (ok) and "glyph level" animation (not ok).
But I found it tricky to articulate this idea through the license text, for two reasons:
- Not sure how to define a thin line between client work and derivative product (this applies to classic usage of the font as well). Here is an example: A user buys the font, and then on Fiverr offers the service to provide you rasterized text in that font. Technically it's client work and it doesn't violate the license, but practically it not a client work it's selling a derivative product (more practically redistribution). There is a term in licenses that requires that text must be a part of a bigger design in order to be considered as an element and not as a product itself. But again, this is a thin line, because you interfere with possible minimalism of creative work (take logo wordmarks for example). How this is usually regulated?
- The second reason is that applying animation effects over the text is an additional step that I don't know how to treat. Take the example from above and include applying animation effects on it (fade-in, glitch, color effects, blur whatever). Is it derivative work then? Let's say a user types the text "PARTY" and apply various effects on it. Is it ok that she/he can sell that as an animated SVG/GIF? And is it ok that someone offers the service to type the custom word and applies own animation effects over it? In my opinion—NOT—but how to say this?
I was hoping that this topic is interest of more type designers and that we can put it simply here and articulate the terms in this area which are generally acceptable
webfonts and letterform products
Neither of these are permitted under my basic license. Don't go read on our website because the explanation of letterform product there is poorly written and we no longer permit webfont licensees to make their own.
A webfont is a derivative in a technical sense because the font is reformatted. So, for some time we expressly permitted the reformatting in the addendum and told them they had to use fontsquirrel and had to retain the name of the font.
For letterform products, the issue is that it's simply not a use of the font software so much as it a use of the typeface to which we reserve our rights. But since the process of creating a letterform product doesn't feel different to the customer we need to explain why. We can get away with this mostly because this is a fairly uncommon use case. Here's the language that will go in the next update to our EULA:
Perhaps that's something here you can apply to you situation? I would think one of the things you could do is add this use case to the clause of your EULA that forbids reselling.
This reflects my general biases, mind you. I prefer relatively simple EULAs which are both not burdened with a long list of restrictions, and not too complicated in general.
Thanks for the detailed answer! Letterform products are similar to what I am concerned with.
I have started with the idea of preventing animators to make and sell an animated font without purchasing a special license for that (one of my fonts is animated, and it is sold as a separate product. The animator and I have a special agreement about the license.)
It is pretty much understood that it's not allowed even without any warning. But I got a specific question from one animator, so I thought it is a good moment to define what's ok and what's not.
That's when I fell into the rabbit hole, because I tried to translate common sense into the precise definition while trying to prevent workarounds (this is where it's close to a letterform product, for example, a case of providing letter by letter animated on the stock market).
Furthermore, I realized that situations which are hard to define are not related only to animation case, but for font licensing in general, like the situation where one can offer a service of providing rasterized text to the clients in particular font for $1 i.e., so the client doesn't have to purchase the font in order to use it for the logo. (which is a sci-fi probability—I hope)
But as @Thomas Phinney suggested, maybe I shouldn't try to regulate everything. I will try to find a reasonable definition, like yours. Once again, thanks for the answer, it helped me to understand the matter and notions better
Your scenario of $1 for an image isn't sci fi. It's the graphic design business model. They do charge for their services where the deliverable is a design product that includes fonts. Frankly, that's what fonts are for and the reason one would have a graphic designer do it is because they are (presumably) better able to use the tool than you. It's quickly more expensive than licensing the font directly.
We allow any treatment to font that falls into a normal set of services offered by graphic designers. I'd count animation in that category so long as it doesn't involve embedding of the fonts. Further, I'd not count creating documents in the category if you do so through proprietary software that embeds the fonts which is tantamount to web embedding on a new outlet website.
Perhaps you're fixating on the wrong thing by worrying about animation?
Perhaps I wasn't clear enough What you are describing is perfectly fine, and I agree that's fonts are for.
But imagine this scenario (not very probable): Website/service appears and says:
"Hi, clients and designers. There is no need for you to spend $50 buying the font, just because you need it for the logo. We already bought them for you, just send the name and slogan for your brand and we will provide you vector outlines in all weights for $1"
There is no any graphic design included, just plain redistribution, which still doesn't violate the license.
And here is the font Prota Animated:
The animator and I have an agreement about the terms under which this derivative product can be made. I would like to prevent animators to make derivative like this (through the workaround similar to the one I described in my last message above) without my permission.
Thanks, that's interesting, I didn't know about that. Do you maybe remember some examples of such service/site?
Thanks, but as I can tell this kind of usage requires "app license". This is very different from what I described (delivering outlined fonts to the customers and having that as the only service of the site).
I'm not sure how it's different - unless their business model charged since I last looked. I think you're describing exactly what this site is. You use templates to make documents you download as pdf.
I understand. When I said it's different, I meant that this kind of usage is not allowed by the Desktop license at least. Thanks for your answers again, they helped me to shape my Desktop license addendum.
Seems that I have a different point of view on this subject than most type designers here But that's ok I just wanted to hear other opinions as well. Thanks for your answer!
Most foundries don't focus on animation because it's not a common enough use case for us to care. I can understand why, if it's part of your business model, you would care. The is similar to how foundries who make a lot of logo types tend to be the ones who don't permit logo use under their basic license. It's a shame, from a pure clarity of message perspective, that these factors enter in to muddy things. As a licensing wonk, my only interest in that EULAs be clear and understandable.
I totally agree (because I know how I like to see a simple—a few line—license when I buy). I tried my best to put it in two sentences/one line
But even mit license is not just a few lines.
The point is to reserve for ourselves the right to exploit the visual aesthetics of the glyphs. That's why we make the distinction that whenever the point is the communication of language it's fine. Think sets of letters but also single letter keychains and pillows and such where the point is to enjoy the glyph.
We want to be very clear that we are licensing the FONT as a tool and not the glyphs as shapes. This is why we go out of our way to say that if you are to make an arrangement to make letterform products it will be a royalty agreement and not an addendum to the basic license.
With regards to a commercial license... my opinion based on interactions with customers is that they never understand it. I lean towards making the basic level the commercial level and pricing accordingly.
I'm sure you are right in some abstract way but for the sake of simplicity and for lay people (in this case myself included) I'd rather have a somewhat over simplified definition that if the file type changes it's a derivative. Zip doesn't literally change the suffix for the file.
Or are you referring to something else?
It's interesting that the spec describes WOFF2 as a "font packaging format."