applying licenses to aspects of use

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Joshua Lurie-Terrell's picture
Joined: 2 Apr 2003 - 4:37pm
applying licenses to aspects of use

totally theoretical:

licenses can be used to manage how many machines type is used on, what formats it may or may not be converted into, and whether or not the license can be resold.


can licenses be taken a step further - and be used to enforce how a font can be used ... aesthetically? i.e., face may not be mechanically extended or compressed, may never be combined with comic sans, its lowercase may not be letterspaced, it may not be extruded and printed in hot pink spot ... etc.

what say you typophiles?

Thierry Blancpain's picture
Joined: 15 May 2005 - 4:30am

that would probably vary alot from country to country. i can just talk about switzerland, but such things would probably never be claimable in front of a judge, so its not really worth anything. AND i dont think that would be a good thing. you create the typeface, the designers have to live with it, not you.

for example, the headline font of a well known car manufacturer (the name has five letters, starts with M, ends with da..) is base12, but they useit 160% extended (!) - what ugly thing, but hey, its in the brandbook, and if you're just an intern like i am, you wont ask mazda to change its global brandbook just because you think (and are right) that this is pure bullshit. but with your idea, i'd have broken the eula! not mazda, but i.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am

EULAs can contain anything they want. However, stuff like that could probably not hold up in court. I'd guess.

Nick Shinn's picture
Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am

As Tiffany says, a licence agreement may contain any provision, so if the licensor says "you can't use this above 14 pt size" and the licensee does, that would be legal grounds for the licensor to cancel the contract.

But really, there are practical ways to channel the aesthetic usage of fonts, such as:

1. make the type "small on the body" if you want to encourage a spacious look
2. fit it very tightly (i.e. narrow sidebearings) if you want it to be used for display
3. price it high to avoid the riff-raff getting their hands on it
4. similarly, don't sell through mass distributors
5. provide condensed, regular and extended versions to reduce incidence of horizontal scaling

Jeff Tupper's picture
Joined: 12 Jan 2005 - 2:52pm

As Tiffany says, a licence agreement may contain any provision. Furthermore, as Tiffany also says, the courts have (to put it mildly) a say in what is legally binding. Just because something is included in a written contract doesn't make it legally binding. As mentioned by Kesh, the legal rules vary from country to country. I'd suggest that you carefully consider the ethical ramifications of a provision before you add it to a (standard) contract.

Simon Daniels's picture
Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm

Nick is right, if you want to control or influence the way your type is used you need to have a relationship with the user. Trying to legislate good use via the EULA isn't going to work. Providing a manual containing best practices, and providing templates is likely a better approach, but still you can't teach everyone to be a typographer.

Yves Peters's picture
Joined: 7 Nov 2002 - 11:00am

> Providing a manual containing best practices, (...), but still you can’t teach everyone to be a typographer.

JFP did that for Parisine Plus and I thought it was a very good idea, well executed as well -- to the point and not too specialistic.