Honorware

hrant's picture

{The following is the bulk of a post I just made to the TypeDesign
discussion list. I thought Typophile would be another good place to
bring this up.}

Over time, and proportionate to the so-called "democratization"
of type design, many of us have come to the sad conclusion that
the conventional model of "pay-then-get" is not in harmony with
reality in the case of fonts: they're too easy to pirate, highly
undervalued, and most of all there's no real way of trying the
product before you buy it.

As a result, some of us have turned to Shareware,
which in theory should accomodate us very well, but
in practice has come to suffer from two major flaws:
1. It's too divergent, covering all kinds of schemes.
2. It has a stigma of cheapness.

So I propose to re-focus the "get-then-pay" model, in order to
re-align the Shareware gambit. I call it a gambit because it's
essentially a trade-off between losing some sales to people who
would just buy the font outright (an increasingly rare breed)
versus gaining sales from the added access and the gifting of
trust to potential customers. This "gifting" is really a very
important advantage of Shareware, and can only help increase
sales and reduce piracy, because it puts a much higher price
on ethics, and removes the threat associated with the conven-
tional model, thus reducing animosity. People are much more
likely to be nice to you if you're nice to them.

First, we need a new name:
I came up with "honorware". It sounds nice, and expensive,
but not exclusionary. And the "honor system" is well-known.

Second, we need to define honorware very tightly in terms of
the customer, but very loosely in terms of the seller. This,
because we want the customer to know the ethical commitment
clearly, but we don't want to turn away designers: we need
critical mass to bestow respect upon the name and concept
of honorware.

Third, we need to make it seem justifiably more pricey than
Shareware. This might seem tricky, but I think if we spin
it right it's really not.

Now, when you try to think through the implementation of honorware,
it's actually pretty difficult to make it work; I was having a lot
of trouble getting the three requirements (priciness, convenience,
trust) to harmonize. But through some brainstorming, a "director" of
a major font house came up with the breakthrough concept: payment in
installments, with the option to cancel. This is a supremely elegant
way of allowing two key honorware concepts: accomodating the finan-
cial reality of users; allowing users who can't afford $100 but can
afford $20 to give us the $20, an not even feel very guilty.

So here's what I have so far:
1. The main concept is that the user gets to download a complete
working copy of the font, with no requirement whatsoever of
paying for simply having it. I think even *hinting* that the
font must be de-installed does more harm than good.
2. If the user likes it or uses it, he pays in one of 3 ways:
all at once; over a few weeks; over a few months. If the
user chooses an installment plan, he is reminded to pay
(or cancel - see below) at each period.
3. If the customer stops liking/using it, or for any
other reason, he can cancel, and stop paying. Period.
4. Although we shouldn't explicitly disallow people
from giving the font to somebody else, we should
try to encourage them to simply refer to the
original download site instead.
5. The EULA is up to the foundry, but gentleness is very
important: ideally, there shouldn't be any explicit
legal threats, just implicit ethical ones. There's
no use smiling if you're brandishing a baseball bat.
6. The post-sales support depends on the foundry, and
might vary depending on partial or full payment.
7. Embedding restrictions are up to the foundry,
but again, it's better to be nice, especially
since anybody can download the thing anyway.
You can't steal a gift.

Bottom line:
Being ethical is much more compelling than being legal,
and we can use this to increase sales (and make people
happier as a side benefit).

What now? Basically, to make this really work, enough of us
have to think it's a good idea, and certain people have to
hear us thinking it's a good idea, good enough to recruit
us to it, on the ground.

This is a great place to express support for honorware,
or even simply discuss -and maybe refine- it. Fire at will.

hhp

hrant's picture

You could call it subtle - but it's still significant. The bottom line is that Honorware can bring in more money than Shareware (for the reasons above).

But you could also say that Shareware is mostly "pay-if-you-use-it", while Honorware is "pay-if-you're-ethical" with the elaboration that ethics is relative; for example, asking a Tanzanian to pay $100 for a font is a lot less reasonable than asking a Belgian, and they know it. Also, Honorware does not make it illegal to not pay, while Shareware often does. And "often" is a key word, because *some* Shareware schemes are indeed effectively Honorware, but like I said the model is so divergent that nobody -least of all the user- has a clear and consistent idea of what to do.

So you could call it a "rebirth" of the original model, which is needed because Shareware is in tatters.

hhp

fonthausen's picture

Be honest, if someone offers you the chance of trying out a font before byuing it, you wouldn't have to ask a friend if he knows someone that might have pulled the font you need from the internet. And you'd be sure you have the right version and quality.
How often did your system crash because of bad quality type?

I think this could be a plausible model.

Jacques

mart's picture

Almost all other software is available in demo mode for a trial period, so why not fonts?

Rant begins here: Quite frankly, I resent the whole idea of having to pay, say $40 for a font that I might use for a total of six characters - and never ever use again, when for the same price I can buy, say a years supply of paper for my printer, or the latest 3D realistic shoot-em-up computer game, or a big spindle of CD-R's, or even a superb set of Rotring pens or any number of other $40 items. You might say that I'm comparing apples and oranges here, but "it's the price, stupid". Not only that, "it's the lack of copy protection, stupid". Ever since digital type began there was never - to my knowledge - any built-in copy protection. The "democratization" of graphic design brought about by desktop publishing hard-and-software did not seem to alert type vendors to the possibilty of selling to the average computer user. Prices remain high to this day and it is no wonder that there are so many cheap knock-off fonts and font collections available, not to mention the rampant piracy going on. $1000 or more for a complete font library? Give me a break!
It's a badly broken system, in my opinion. The honorware suggestion: A nice name, but if you actually want to increase sales then you don't complicate the purchasing process. Paying over a few weeks or months is pretty ludicrous if you are talking about many fonts and various vendors.
End of rant.

Sorry I don't have anything positive to say on the subject. I do think the major type vendors should be taking the initiative on pricing and marketing plans though. The system they all seem to have is not worth emulating down at the scale of the individual font designer/vendor.

hrant's picture

> I resent the whole idea of having to pay, say $40
> for a font that I might use for a total of six characters

Totally.
The pay-in-installments method allows you to pay
*something*, while remaining legal, and even ethical.

> if you actually want to increase sales then you don't complicate
> the purchasing process. Paying over a few weeks or months is pretty
> ludicrous if you are talking about many fonts and various vendors.

My original idea was pay-what-you-want, and I thought that was more straightforward. But then I realized the value of freedom-*from*-choice, and more significantly I realized the power of paying by installments not really as a way to spread out the payments, but much more as a way to effectively pay what you want/can, with some guidance and nudging. Nobody should expect everybody to pay the whole amount -or even most of it- all of the time. Adaptability to the wishes and circumstances of the user is arguably the most significant thing in sales, and it's something not at all accomodated by the traditional model.

Also: Concerning the possible confusion from having a bunch of concurrent "payment plans", note that the more fonts somebody buys, the more he's likely to go for the "pay all at once" option.

hhp

fonthausen's picture

Sounds like *stocktype*

PS. Once had a discussion with B.Steinert from Linotype Library about a model in which you pay the use, like stock photography.

Jacques

hrant's picture

Well, in a way URW has actually started doing this:
http://www.urwpp.de/english/contents/samphead-set.htm

And I think it's wonderful, but it only works for very limited display applications. More often users need the font at hand, and there's no easy way to implement that, at least not that I can think of.

hhp

beejay's picture

Remember the lament of 3IP's Brian Wilson and others: There's not a lot of honor in the world today.

A few thoughts:

** The cynical view of 'this will never work' is probably also the pramatic view, based on what we know about the type industry and the 'value' (or lack of value) people ascribe to type. It is not impossible, but...what's so bad about the current system? (just kidding)

** A payment plan -- if you proceed with this idea, you might want to rework that phrase or perhaps lose this element entirely. A payment plan or 'installment plan' makes people think of an investment. Type shouldn't be an investment. I want to pay for something once, not three times. Who has time to keep up with installments?

** I don't know much about software, but isn't it possible to write a patch of encrypted code that will allow a font to only be installed on one computer and not be transferred? There's got to be an engineer holed up at Adobe or someplace that could come up with a method or process to restrict multiple copying of a font. Is there any research in this area?

** I buy a couple fonts per month and $40 is reasonable, to me. It's a tax deduction so that cuts the price dramatically, too.

** You have to consider: why do people buy type? Most people buy type to make money. If $40 is too much, then perhaps you aren't charging enough for your services. Or, like Joe said in a previous discussion, bill your clients.

** Paying for use, like stock photography...even more difficult to implement and enforce.

bj

hrant's picture

> The cynical view of 'this will never work' is probably also the pramatic view

The question is: Is it worth a shot?

I'm claiming that for many -but not all- designers there's more money in honorware than any other model. What's there to lose? Considering there's so little money in "commercialware" retail fonts anyway, I think the one thing you're actually risking with honorware is credibility/prestige, in terms of the future of a type business one might hope to build.

> A payment plan or 'installment plan' makes people think of an investment.

Why? Practically any expensive product can be bought through multiple small payments.

> isn't it possible to write a patch of encrypted code that will allow a font to only be installed on one computer and not be transferred?

I for one happen to think it's very possible. But that's a whole different ballgame, something that type designers per se (except maybe the Dutch Twins) can't do - if "they" do it, great, but what do we do *now*?

hhp

beejay's picture

Hrant, is this specifically for type that you are creating or is this an altruistic endeavor? In other words, what's in it for you? If nothing is in it for you in terms of $, and it's more to fix something that needs fixed, then...

Remember the lament of hhp: you're trying to justify the time spent on type. To get honorware implemented will require hundreds of hours of your time. So to answer your question of, What's to lose?: just your time.

So it's a risk-reward question, and perhaps an exercise in the principles of utility and charity.

Why not get some feedback from some of the 'leaders' of the type industry? Without key support from the powers-that-be, your job will be that much more difficult.

bj


also:

>> Why? Practically any expensive product can be bought through multiple small payments.>>

But type is considered by most everyone NOT to be in the category of 'any expensive product'

bj

hrant's picture

> what's in it for you?

I guess two things: money (I'm finishing my first Latin text face; I've been selling non-Latin fonts for many years, but that's different) and a desire to make the craft healthier.

> To get honorware implemented will require hundreds of hours of your time.

How so? Do you mean like the implementation of e-commerce and stuff? I'd never do that myself; I'm hoping some font houses will integrate honorware into their existing systems. Certain font houses have considered shareware, but like I was explaining, that model's a mess.

> Without key support from the powers-that-be, your job will be that much more difficult.

Totally. This thing has a much better chance in the hands of marketing pros than in mine. The thing is, they're listening - one of the biggest ones I know for a fact. I approached this "big one" last month, and it said "let's see if you can muster up good public support for it".

And that's why I'm hoping people who think honoware is a good idea will say so in public.

> But type is considered by most everyone NOT to be in the category of 'any expensive product'

You have a point.
But *some* people pay a lot of money for good fonts, and it would be a shame to lose that money - and this is one way the installment plan makes sense.

hhp

beejay's picture

Can we see the Latin text face that you are building?

By hundreds and hundreds of hours, I guess that's another way of saying 'a lot'

bj

hrant's picture

> Can we see the Latin text face that you are building?

Sure - towards the end of January.

> Would this be a model that would appeal to those who buy type?

There's a question before that one:
Would this be a model which can be implemented cost-effectively, soon enough for us to care? No.

hhp

hrant's picture

Clive:
> My opinion is that many people will only pay if you "make" them pay.

The problem of course is that these are the people you simply can't make pay, no matter how angry that makes you. You have to adapt to a reduced amount that a few *will* pay, necessarily giving up some of your pride in the process. Honorware is about pragmatism.

> are people interested in having the kind of "smart" fonts that I outlined?

The answer to that is obvious: yes.
The problem is the implementation and getting people used to the idea.

BTW, I think I'm being a lot less imaginary than you, because I'm proposing something that can be done today, to increase sales. And I'm totally comfortable with more people having my fonts without paying for them - those people wouldn't pay anyway, and at least I get access/exposure.

> What we need is a long-term solution

Agreed. But that's not the point of this thread.
I of all people would never want to limit discussion, but I do think focus is important. It's very easy to start your own separate thread about any long-term solutions (one of which I outlined on the OpenType list a long time ago, if you remember, and I've also brought it up recently on the TypeDesign list as well - nobody seems to be interested enough, you should note), and you can even point to it from here.

> The cost of implementation isn't an issue yet

If it weren't, we'd already have it.

Joe:
> it's only the US that is unwilling to provide protection for fonts UNLESS they're considered software.

But legal protection is largely ineffective anyway.

> My hypothesis is that the fonts getting 'sold' to clients are the ones that designers have on hand

Bingo.

Clive:
> I know people have discussed this very idea for five years or more (without coming to a solution)

Did you read my post about URW?

> But as you wrote, that's not a font, so I kind of think it's separate from this discussion.

Right.

hhp

hrant's picture

One other thing:

Joe:
> the fonts getting 'sold' to clients are the ones that designers have on hand

And the "installment" model allows an ethical but not-filthy-rich designer to try the font for a nominal amount, and then decide to buy it for real or not. The more I think about it, the more I realize this is a very versatile mechanism. (Damn shame it wasn't my idea...)

hhp

hrant's picture

> Well, given the right licencing model and enforcement scheme, those that won't pay won't play.

But considering the mechanism does not exist (and will not exist for a while, if ever), honorware has validity.

More to the point: I'm a practical person, and to me selling things is also a practical -as opposed to a spiritual- thing. So since I personally have no way to enforce usage (and I don't know very many who do, and those who do don't seem interested in such a scheme), I try to simply improve the situation, hence honorware.

> What you propsoe is being done today, it's called shareware and no one pays for it.

I think re-branding it, re-focusing it would get more people to pay, and it might surpass the commercialware model (which however isn't saying much). I think you either don't have enough faith in users, or piracy bothers you too much for your own good.

> I'm not on either of those lists.

When I brought up my encryption idea on OT you were there.

> tell MS/Adobe/Apple what they want

I think that's naive:
Big corporations have no problem giving away fonts - it's *our* problem.

> How to sell it to customers?

No, that's a front.
The real question is: "How do I convince the stockholders?"

A big, unseen, part of this problem is that -in the end- fonts are essentially owned/distributed by people who care nothing about type, they just want more money.

> I don't care what pirates like them do either way.

That's not very objective; you have to put aside your emotions. We're talking about marketing, about technology - not morals.

> Give them free online tools to try a font before they even buy an expiring licence and you're genuinely offering an improved service.

I can't. Who is willing and able? Nobody.
So what are we left with: accomodating the behavior of users: honorware.

Being a dreamer is good - unless it ends up driving you crazy. For the moment you can't beat piracy, you have to side-step it.

hhp

hrant's picture

> if not then wave goodbye to entire industries and content providers.

(I wish I had some ASCII-art of somebody waving...)

> I'm pretty sure Agfa/MT/ITC and Linotype do.

I think there's only one company with the potential to really help type designers: Adobe. But the fact that it's a public company greatly reduces any hope.

> Or at least they give every impression of such.

Exactly.
Honesty in a corporation is like kindness in a stormtrooper.

> one has to convince the marketing dweebs

Clive, the marketing dweebs know *exactly* what they're doing. They're not stupid - they're just not paid to care about the craft of type design.

> on the one hand it's "not about corporations - it's grass roots people", then you're going on about "convincing the stockholders".

No, my point is that we simply can't convince the stockholders [to implement your "enforcement"], and that's why we have to fend for ourselves, even if that means scrounging for scraps. Having faith in users is our only realistic recourse, as precarious as that might seem.

> things are changing.

If you mean that there are increasingly more small independent foundries, that's moot: implementing the technology to support your "enforcement" requires the participation of the big fat corporations.

And in any case, what you're proposing -if it ever happens- is years away. I never claimed honorware is some panacea for all of time - it's just something that would help many designers make more money, *today*.

> People are offering such tools now

You mean those half-baked online preview mechanisms, like I have on my own site? That's no substitute for real access to the actual font. There's a reason some of the biggest players (like FontBureau and FontFont) don't bother with preview mechanisms.

Ideally, we need an ATM with encryption and dynamic online "reporting", but that's not even on anybody's horizon. So realistically what we need *today* is a good alternative to traditional commercialware (which is too anti-user) and shareware (which is somewhat anti-designer, and a general mess).

(I think I'm getting some ideas of refinements to the honorware model - let me think offline a bit...)

hhp

hrant's picture

> The point would be to offer cheaper licencing all-round, for at least some groups, some may end up paying more.

The problem is that the biggest factor in how much a given person will/can pay is that person's circumstances (like his salary in Bangalore). So the ideal sales model would be nimble enough to adequately accomodate the user no matter who/where he is - we don't live in Kansas no more. The traditional commercialware model fails miserably in the Internet Age, and implementing "enforcement" (forgetting for a moment that it's vaporware anyway) is not necessarily the complete answer, or even most of the answer.

hhp

anonymous's picture

And the subtle differnce between this and the shareware model is what (ie you're supposed to pay for shareware too)?

anonymous's picture

Ok, I think that "honourware" is in fact no different to "shareware", just a different name. Most shareware fonts say "pay if you use it commercially" and most people don't.

My opinion is that many people will only pay if you "make" them pay.

One thing has come out of this thread, that is interesting, and has been discussed at a couple of events recently is the concept of licencing to users on a limited basis.

Martin indicates he'd just like six glyphs. That unfortunately won't work very well because it's very difficult to handle fonts with differing numbers of glyphs without giving each such font a unique name - a real nighmare support-wise.

However, lots of us think that licences should be tailored to an individual's needs:

You want a licence "just for you".

You want a licence for your work group.

You want a licence that gives you embedding and distribution rights within a large organisation.

You want a licence for a document you want to make up right now, but it's a one-off and you won't need to font again (so how about if the font expires in a month, or six months, or whatever?).

You need an update for to a font because there are new glyphs and/or hinting/kerning changes.

All the above scenarios are a headache, there's no easy way to get updates to people, there's no easy way to have intelligent fonts that "know" who they belong to and there's no easy way for fonts to expire over time.

But, let's imagine there were answers to all of these:

You can buy a font for $5.00, that expires in three months and can only be used by you (hey, like a sheet of Letraset).

You can buy a non-expiring version of the same font, "just for you", for $25.00 - it won't work on anyone else's machine (actually tied to the user, so you buy a new machine, transfer your licence "tags" and it'll still work).

If you want a five user licence, that only works for five users, that'll be $40.00.

How about a large company, that has a corporate font, the licence makes it so that it only works on the company's own LAN/WAN?

Or, because the font is "smart" and knows who owns it, they can go to the foundry site any time and get a replacement or update?

And just maybe, demo fonts that don't print, but that you can try out on screen?

Would this be a model that would appeal to those who buy type?

anonymous's picture

>Would this be a model which can be implemented
>cost-effectively, soon enough for us to care? No.

That wasn't the question I asked, and you'll note that I prefaced the whole thing with:

>But, let's imagine there were answers to all of these:

ie I disallowed your question before you asked it.

So, in our imagined perfect world (where incidently people are still imperfect and won't pay for fonts unless you make them), are people interested in having the kind of "smart" fonts that I outlined?

The cost of implementation isn't an issue yet, and it isn't an issue for font purchasers anyway - as long as they get a better service and at least some users, who want limited access/functionality, can get it at a price that suits them (ie cheaper than $40 to use six chars).

As for "soon enough for us to care" - if you want it next week, or even next year, then no. Take OpenType as an example, the original OT Jam at MS was in 1997, nearly five years later and OT still isn't "mainstream". What we need is a long-term solution, to a long-term problem, not a quick fix. If it doesn't start now we're just delaying it.

Joe Pemberton's picture

One of them is easy Clive. You wrote:

>Martin indicates he'd just like six glyphs.
>That unfortunately won't work very well because
>it's very difficult to handle fonts with
>differing numbers of glyphs without giving each
>such font a unique name - a real nightmare
>support-wise.

If I want 6 glyphs, give them to me in an EPS,
not a font. Keep it simple--it's the outlines I
need.

//joe

Joe Pemberton's picture

The current font licensing model sucks. (For
both foundries and studios). Perhaps the
current model only works for the huge
foundries (Adobe, Bitstream) who's whole
libraries are bought by large agencies,
studios and schools. But there's got to be
a better model for the big foundries as well.

Hrant's idea, while a twist on an existing idea
is still interesting but I'd hesitate to offer my
fonts free to just anybody in hopes that a
fraction of them would pay for it. (Just as I'd
hesitate to offer them as shareware or
freeware). Clive's points are equally
interesting but somehow just as difficult to
imagine in practice for reasons I'll get to.

In general, this problem stems from viewing
font licensing the same way we view
application software licensing. Indeed, it's only
the US that is unwilling to provide protection
for fonts UNLESS they're considered software.
I believe a much better model would be to
view fonts as a creative asset like photography
or illustration, where rights are based on
usage and the rules for payment seem more
clear. (With stock photography and illustration
low res comps are free in exchange for your
name and email address. High res comping
samples are provided for a tenth of the final
price. Sure you could print your job with the
high res comp, but the stock house knows
exactly who you are and what your project is.)

Clive's thoughts about different license
schemes for different needs is perhaps what
the industry needs. (And could indeed follow
the more familiar stock photo/illustration
model.) But I think the ones he
states are way too 'user' centric (in the
'software' sense) where it ought to be more
'project' centric. ("The client just ordered
another round of changes and the font expired
two days ago." Or, "My machine just
fatally crashed, and it's the only one with the
font license!")

Consider the project, not the number of users.
Does anyone every need a single user
license? Make it a single "project" license and
you're on to something. When was the last
time, in a studio or agency situation, where a
single designer was the ONLY person to
touch a project. Very rarely would a designer
ever buy fonts for perosnal use (even
freelancers work on projects with other
designers.)

I don't keep Frutiger on my hard drive merely
because I think it's a fine typeface. I keep
Frutiger on my machine because I need it
tomorrow for a client project. (And the font
better not expire because you can count on
me archiving the font right alongside my Quark
files for future assurance that whoever needs
the Quark doc will have the fonts too.)

Now consider the following fictitous--but more
common than we dare admit--example. (This
example concludes in a sort of twist on the
'honor' model:

Jim is setting a comp using Filosofia Unicase
for a design review with his client. He has no
idea if the client will approve Filosofia; he can
only hope. He only has Filosofia because
he (illegally) burned it on a CD back in
his college days. (Raise your hand if you've
ever met a college design student without a
CD full of pirated fonts). Now the comp is
ready to print and Doug needs Jim to email
him a copy of Filosofia so he can output it on
the color printer.

So, now the comp is approved and the studio
buys the font. Then the client's in-house
design group buys it. Without illegally copying
Filosofia Unicase, would Jim ever have used it
in his comp? My hypothesis is that the
fonts getting 'sold' to clients are the ones that
designers have on hand--whether legally or
not. The end-clients are the drivers of retail
font purchases. (Like stock photography or
illustration.) If I can't get a free or cheap comp
of your photo into my design, my client will
never see it and of course they will never buy
it. (I'm talking stock here, not custom.) What
graphic designer do you know says, "Here's
the comp, but imagine it set in this cool
typeface from this specimen book."

(This works for the BIG foundries because
most large design houses and ad agencies
own their libraries, Bitstream and Adobe
especially. These libraries are maintained by
IT folks who know the legal ramifications of
being caught with pirated software on their
servers.)

I'll finish my rant by mentioning a recent
conversation with an influencer at a large font
house (no, it's not the one you're thinking).
This person suggested the idea of distributing
their vast font library for FREE on CD to
reputable and trustworthy agencies. The idea
is exactly as I've outlined above except it would
make the above scenario legal. When the
client approves the face, you (or they) buy the
font. This makes that obscure font, that you
would otherwise never buy, available to test on
that client job.

I was going to say this was "my two cents," but
I wrote an entire essay. Perhaps that's what
happens when I go away for a week.

I realize I'm a bit all over the place, trying to
answer both Hrant and Clive and trying to
introduce another sort of 'honor' model to the
thread. I've just had this kicking around in me
since the "making a living" and the "knockoffs
hurt" threads. Plus it's late.

//joe

anonymous's picture

Joe:
>If I want 6 glyphs, give them to me in an
>EPS, not a font. Keep it simple--it's the
>outlines I need.

You know, I say that's fair enough, and I know people have discussed this very idea for five years or more (without coming to a solution). I also know that someone is working on this in a realistic way that will come to fuition.

But as you wrote, that's not a font, so I kind of think it's separate from this discussion.

anonymous's picture

Joe:

>In general, this problem stems from viewing
>font licensing the same way we view
>application software licensing. Indeed, it's only
>the US that is unwilling to provide protection
>for fonts UNLESS they're considered software.

Actually this isn't quite true. The US does have protection for typefaces as "design", but not via copyright. The US Patent and Trademark Office will register typefaces as design patents, and these can form the basis of legal action. Now, you may be doubtful as to the number and type of fonts that could qualify for such protection, but Adobe has a patent on Adobe Garamond - this was part of the Adobe/Emigre v SSI case, in which the Judge stated that design patent of this type was a valid form intellectual property protection (although made no judgement in the matter as the case was settled on other issues).

There are a number of articles at Fontzone that reference the SSI case and patent.

>I believe a much better model would be to
>view fonts as a creative asset like photography
>or illustration, where rights are based on
>usage and the rules for payment seem more
>clear.

I tend to think that for fonts this model doesn't quite work.

>Clive's thoughts about different license
>schemes for different needs is perhaps what
>the industry needs. (And could indeed follow
>the more familiar stock photo/illustration
>model.) But I think the ones he
>states are way too 'user' centric (in the
>'software' sense) where it ought to be more
>'project' centric.

I don't think project centric is very practical. What's a project, a single page layout, someone's entire ad campaign globally, someone's corporate ID work for the next ten years? Users and time are fairly simple things to measure.

>("The client just ordered
>another round of changes and the font expired
>two days ago."

Then just go online and get an update. First thing to realise is that you don't have to buy an expiring licence, and some foundries may not even want to go there. The second thing to realise is that the whole model is based around network-centric solutions. You should be able to update your licence, get a copy of a corrupted or lost font, get a list of the fonts, status and licensing of all the fonts you own 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

The weak points being your own network connectivity (your problem) and the robustness of the servers/connection of the foundry conecerned.

>Or, "My machine just
>fatally crashed, and it's the only one with the
>font license!")

Well that applies with fonts right now. If you don't have a back-up you're screwed, and you're going to have a real hard time trying to get free replacements from any foundry. I would imagine that systems would be in place to allow you access if you can securely identify yourself.

>Does anyone every need a single user
>license?

Yes, I do.

>Make it a single "project" license and
>you're on to something.

Then buy a multi-user licence. I can't quote on specifics but an expiring multi-user licence would probably end up cheaper than a permanent single user licence.

If this could be set up and run really efficiently, and was pretty much leak-proof (ie people *had* to pay for font licences), then I don't see why fonts shouldn't be priced in some cases in the sub $2.00 bracket.

One of the main reasons fonts are priced as they are today is the costs associated with sales, ie people filling in bits of paper and answering the phone. I think the "Making a living" thread touched on this, big foundry sells hundreds of fonts, but designer gets $50.00. It's not because the big foundry stole all the money, but that the money disappeared through the distribution system. You can see the practical effect of this when foundries sell complete libraries, the cost per font plumets to well under a dollar in some cases, because the "people" and distribution costs for selling 3,000 fonts in one hit are pretty much the same as selling one font, thus the bulk of the cost is licencing fees that go back to the designers (in small amounts still).

>When was the last
>time, in a studio or agency situation, where a
>single designer was the ONLY person to
>touch a project. Very rarely would a designer
>ever buy fonts for perosnal use (even
>freelancers work on projects with other
>designers.)

All the time :-)

But of course there are many different usage scenarios, which is why tailored licences are appropriate.

>I don't keep Frutiger on my hard drive merely
>because I think it's a fine typeface. I keep
>Frutiger on my machine because I need it
>tomorrow for a client project. (And the font
>better not expire because you can count on
>me archiving the font right alongside my Quark
>files for future assurance that whoever needs
>the Quark doc will have the fonts too.)

There's a trade-off here. Do you buy an expiring licence on the basis that you don't need it past the end of the week, or you might but you'll deal with that later? Or, do you buy a non-expiring licence because you want to make certain that the font is there and ready to run in three years time if you need it?

Your decision will be based on the discount you're getting for an expiring licence and whether you have the confidence in the licencing/distribution system to believe that you'll be able to get a replacement for the expiring font at some point in the future.

My take on it is that if I can buy a font for $5.00 rather than $30.00, and it expires in a acceptable time frame, then I'm going to buy the $5.00 font. The same way I would have bought one sheet of Letraset or one line of typesetting rather than multiple copies "just in case".

If I were going to buy a set of fonts for ongoing use then I'd clearly see the value in a non-expiring licence. But where the future usage is undetermined I think it's appropriate to pay for the use I'm going to make. I may end up paying more for that font over the longer term by buying several expiring licences, but I think again that's probably an acceptable thing to do (you can buy anything in bulk cheaper than one-offs, but that doesn't mean you buy three tonnes of coffee to get a bargain price over the year).

>Jim is setting a comp using Filosofia Unicase
>for a design review with his client. He has no
>idea if the client will approve Filosofia; he can
>only hope. He only has Filosofia because
>he (illegally) burned it on a CD back in
>his college days. (Raise your hand if you've
>ever met a college design student without a
>CD full of pirated fonts). Now the comp is
>ready to print and Doug needs Jim to email
>him a copy of Filosofia so he can output it on
>the color printer.

I think the issue is that in many cases the pirated versions never get translated into legitimate licences. Often designers don't have a clue about font licencing at all, and many of their managers aren't in a position to deal with the issue either.

>So, now the comp is approved and the studio
>buys the font. Then the client's in-house
>design group buys it. ... What
>graphic designer do you know says, "Here's
>the comp, but imagine it set in this cool
>typeface from this specimen book."

Well, realistically, this used to happen all the time. It's only fairly recently that design concepts would be shown to clients as more or less finished artwork. A bit of hand rendered headline and some squiggly lines for body type were what clients approved - in some enlightened cases they still do.

However, I understand your point. My counter would be that in a "smart" licencing system foundries could offer limited res or limited functionality versions of fonts as demo versions. That's essentially what you're asking for isn't it?

Bitstream actually had a library like this years ago, supplied to designers fairly cheaply, but would only print at 300dpi. When it was sent to a bureau they had the high-res versions and it would rip to film ok.

>(...These libraries are maintained by
>IT folks who know the legal ramifications of
>being caught with pirated software on their
>servers.)

These servers are run by IT people who may know what a font is or where it came from, but their boss says "$7,000 for fonts, do we need to?". In the UK the onus is on the management to deal with these issues where they have been informed of the situation by their staff.

Besides which, only very large agencies will have dedicated IT people, most 5-20 person businesses will just muck in together to sort problems out as they occur, or contract out maintenance to a third party who won't care about licencing either way.

>I'll finish my rant by mentioning a recent
>conversation with an influencer at a large font
>house (no, it's not the one you're thinking).
>This person suggested the idea of distributing
>their vast font library for FREE on CD to
>reputable and trustworthy agencies. The idea
>is exactly as I've outlined above except it would
>make the above scenario legal. When the
>client approves the face, you (or they) buy the
>font. This makes that obscure font, that you
>would otherwise never buy, available to test on
>that client job.

The thing is that *large* agencies will just buy the CD anyway. Designers will just use the fonts they find on the servers or on their colleague's hard disks, there's no way they're going to go through some reporting system recording every time they use a font so that the agency gets a chance to licence it.

I've even known designers to "cheat" on the photo stock agencies.

Here's another "huge" foundry story. A recent discussion lead an employee of said foundry to explain that they had pretty much no way of tracking the legitimacy of a font licence if they were to examine someone's HD. Because their fonts were distributed in so many different ways by many different agents, bought individually, in bundles and licenced en masse. Such was the problem that there was additionally no realistic way of offering upgraded licences either.

That's the kind of mess I want to put a stop to. I want designers to know what fonts are licenced to them, explicitly, and for the foundries to be able to verify that, both for their own benefit and as a client service.

Being able to get upgrades and replacements in the middle of the night are real benefits to font users.

anonymous's picture

Hrant:

>The problem of course is that these are the people you simply
>can't make pay, no matter how angry that makes you. You have
>to adapt to a reduced amount that a few *will* pay, necessarily
>giving up some of your pride in the process. Honorware is about
>pragmatism.

Well, given the right licencing model and enforcement scheme, those that won't pay won't play.

Clive:
>> are people interested in having the kind of "smart" fonts that
>I outlined?

Hrant:
>The answer to that is obvious: yes.
>The problem is the implementation and getting people used to
>the idea.

That's the problem, yes, but it's not the question. Implementation isn't as big a problem as people think. Getting people used to the idea is more about selling them the benefits, and I think there are many to font buyers.

>BTW, I think I'm being a lot less imaginary than you, because
>I'm proposing something that can be done today, to increase
>sales. And I'm totally comfortable with more people having my
>fonts without paying for them - those people wouldn't pay
>anyway, and at least I get access/exposure.

What you propsoe is being done today, it's called shareware and no one pays for it.

>> What we need is a long-term solution

>Agreed. But that's not the point of this thread.
>I of all people would never want to limit discussion, but I do
>think focus is important. It's very easy to start your own
>separate thread about any long-term solutions (one of which I
>outlined on the OpenType list a long time ago, if you
>remember, and I've also brought it up recently on the
>TypeDesign list as well - nobody seems to be interested
>enough, you should note), and you can even point to it from
>here.

I'm not on either of those lists.

>> The cost of implementation isn't an issue yet

>If it weren't, we'd already have it.

No. We'd already have it if people could accept the concept, or even imagine the concept and tell MS/Adobe/Apple what they want rather than being told what they're going to get.

The reason it hasn't happened is that there are many things to put in place and no one has yet drawn up a blueprint. I've spoken to many people in "high places" about these ideas and the general reaction is:

anonymous's picture

Hrant:
>And the "installment" model allows an
>ethical but not-filthy-rich
>designer to try the font for a nominal
>amount, and then decide
>to buy it for real or not.

Forget installment, think about cheap fonts and how to get people to use them. Give someone a font for a couple of dollars and they'll use it. If it expires over time they can upgrade to a non-expiring verion or buy another cheap expiring one.

Give them free online tools to try a font before they even buy an expiring licence and you're genuinely offering an improved service.

anonymous's picture

>> Well, given the right licencing model and enforcement scheme, those
>that won't pay won't play.
>
>But considering the mechanism does not exist (and will not exist for a
>while, if ever),

Oh, for sure it will exist, if not then wave goodbye to entire industries and content providers.

>honorware has validity.

As much as shareware does. I'm not saying it's not valid, I'm just saying it's no improvement on what's already there.

>More to the point: I'm a practical person, and to me selling things is also
>a practical -as opposed to a spiritual- thing. So since I personally have
>no way to enforce usage (and I don't know very many who do, and those
>who do don't seem interested in such a scheme), I try to simply improve
>the situation, hence honorware.

I don't think it's going anywhere. particularly from a practical point of view. This is a "spiritual" concept - I trust in my brother man - and you're going on about practical considerations?

>
>> What you propsoe is being done today, it's called shareware and no
>one pays for it.
>
>I think re-branding it, re-focusing it would get more people to pay, and it
>might surpass the commercialware model (which however isn't saying
>much). I think you either don't have enough faith in users, or piracy
>bothers you too much for your own good.

The former. I don't have faith.

>> I'm not on either of those lists.
>
>When I brought up my encryption idea on OT you were there.

And I'm expected to remember one of your posts from 2-3 years ago?

Remember this:

R
G
B

:-)

>> tell MS/Adobe/Apple what they want
>
>I think that's naive:
>Big corporations have no problem giving away fonts - it's *our* problem.

Apple/MS/Adobe may not, but I'm pretty sure Agfa/MT/ITC and Linotype do. Or at least they give every impression of such.

>> How to sell it to customers?
>
>No, that's a front.
>The real question is: "How do I convince the stockholders?"

No, it's not a front, it must have customer benefits to be a practical proposition. The only front to it is that one has to convince the marketing dweebs that this is a benefit for them too.

There's a lack of logic to the things you're throwing up here, on the one hand it's "not about corporations - it's grass roots people", then you're going on about "convincing the stockholders".

>A big, unseen, part of this problem is that -in the end- fonts are
>essentially owned/distributed by people who care nothing about type,
>they just want more money.

I think that you should take a look around, things are changing.

>> I don't care what pirates like them do either way.
>
>That's not very objective; you have to put aside your emotions. We're
>talking about marketing, about technology - not morals.

Like I wrote, I don't care what they do, we're not playing the same game.

>> Give them free online tools to try a font before they even buy an
>expiring licence and you're genuinely offering an improved service.
>
>I can't. Who is willing and able? Nobody.
>So what are we left with: accomodating the behavior of users: honorware.

You can't what?

People are offering such tools now, some of them have been around for... since 1994 or so (and at that time it was the best thing on the net).

>Being a dreamer is good - unless it ends up driving you crazy. For the
>moment you can't beat piracy, you have to side-step it.

I think the only dreamer going crazy is someone who might imagine that "honorware" is any different to "shareware".

Joe Pemberton's picture

Clive,

I've been mulling over your points about "project"
vs. "user" centric licensing. I have to concede
that a project centered licensing agreement would
require much more negotiation between the buyer
and the foundry--over issues like the print run,
scope of usage, shelf-life of the piece, et
cetera--which is prohibitive.

I can't imagine a foundry doing that much
haggling over a $49 or even $99 USD font. It
wouldn't be cost effective. (Rights protected
stock imagery is typically in the $400 to $1000
USD range and warrant some negotiation over
price.)

//joe

anonymous's picture

Joe,

Right, and you've hit the nail on the head with another issue. The point would be to offer cheaper licencing all-round, for at least some groups, some may end up paying more. Clearly you must remove the "haggling" element or it's just not worth it - as noted above a large proportion of font revenue is eaten by sales and marketing.

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