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License suggestions?

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2018 6:28 pm
by Psymon
I haven't got a clue what to put for my font license. I've thought long and hard about whether to try to sell my fonts, but speaking with other type designers I know (including some "world class" ones), it just doesn't seem all that lucrative, and with my set of historical fonts, I'm not sure how big the market would be for that. If I made a whopping $100/year on them in royalties, I think I'd be surprised -- or even if I made, say, $500, while sure that's nice, I just don't know if it's worth all the trouble of having to keep records, pay taxes and the whole shebang.

So I figured I would just give my fonts away for free -- at least for personal, non-commercial use. If someone (or some company) out there really wanted to use my fonts for some money-making project, well, I'd probably have to take that on a case-by-case basis (like, if some mom & pop private printing company was doing a one-off run of a 100 little books or something, I'd probably just let them use it for free, but if Hollywood came a-callin', that would be a different story!). ;)

Is there some sort of standard license for basically that sort of purpose?

I also was looking at the OFL stuff, too -- that looks interesting. There's just SO much gobbledygook to go through with them, too, though, that I find it a bit confusing. I do gather that pretty much anyone can declare their font an OFL-licensed font? Like, you don't have to get "approved" or something first? So that would just be the license that I include in my font -- and slap their little logo on my web page and stuff, too?

I do gather, though, that an OFL font is not limited to personal/non-commercial use, though -- so if someone did want to use my font for a commercial project, then they'd be free to do so. Is that right?

Any suggestions on what to do would be great! Or even if you see a flaw in any of my reasoning here, if there's something I'm not "seeing." :shock:

Re: License suggestions?

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2018 7:03 pm
by Bhikkhu Pesala
I can only suggest "Pile them high and sell them cheap."

Unless you have the fund to pursue copyright infringement, it makes no sense to charge the same as the big foundries do. If you only ask for $5 some users might be happy to pay, but of course you will need a PayPal account or some other easy way for people to pay.

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Re: License suggestions?

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2018 7:19 pm
by Psymon
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Mon Dec 17, 2018 7:03 pm
Unless you have the fund to pursue copyright infringement, it makes no sense to charge the same as the big foundries do. If you only ask for $5 some users might be happy to pay, but of course you will need a PayPal account or some other easy way for people to pay.
Um, why would I be asking anyone to pay if I'm giving them away for free? ;) At least, that was going to be my intention as far as personal, non-commercial use goes. If someone was going to publish a book done entirely with my fonts, where that is effectively one of the "selling features" about it, well, then I would like to receive some sort of payment for my contribution (however indirect that might be).

I don't know if that will ever happen, though -- I may go to my grave without anyone ever getting a "commercial" use out ofmy fonts. :roll:

Re: License suggestions?

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2018 7:50 pm
by Bhikkhu Pesala
Better ask for a voluntary donation.

> Please register by paying $5,000 to help me pay for my Maserati if you use my fonts commercially, or donate $5 if you like my fonts and use them for non-commercial use.

Re: License suggestions?

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2018 8:26 pm
by Psymon
That's an idea, too, to ask for donations -- but then, technically that has to be reported as a "business income," too, and then you have to go through the whole palava of filing quarterly reports and tax returns on that as well.

Just for maybe $5! ;)

Re: License suggestions?

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:11 pm
by Psymon
I think I'm now leaning to perhaps just giving my fonts away for free to anyone, even for commercial use -- just free to do whatever you want with them. However, looking at the SIL Open Font License info again here... ... rsi&id=OFL aspect of it that I find a bit disconcerting is this part: "It [SIL OFL] enables font authors to release their work under a common license that allows use, bundling, modification and redistribution. It encourages shared value, is not limited to any specific computing platform or environment, and can be used by other organizations or individuals."

While I can see myself perhaps just letting anyone use my fonts however they want, I'm not sure if I'd be too crazy about others taking my font, modifying it, and doing whatever they feel like to the actual font itself.

Are there other licenses out there, similar to the SIL one, that at least have that limitation (that people can use your font however they want, as long as they don't modify it)?

Or I suppose I could come up with a license of my own creation, too, of course -- I don't know all the "legalese" that would have to go into such things, though. Perhaps I could take the SIL one, go through it, and just make modifications here and there, I don't know.

As I said before, just looking for suggestions! I'm just brainstorming here, because I really don't have any idea what to do for my license(s). :roll:

Re: License suggestions?

Posted: Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:22 am
by Psymon
I'm still somewhat undecided about what to do for the license for my fonts, or even whether to just give them away for free even for commercial use, but I've been googling about it and found some resources that might be helpful for others out there.

A Breakdown of Font Licensing for Bloggers ... -bloggers/
Rather a good overview of the subject here (and not just for bloggers), but what's especially nice about this article, too, is that throughout the article it has links to various websites for selling (or sharing for free) your fonts, and what makes each particular place good depending on your purpose/need.

What Is a Font License? (And Do I Need One?) ... -need-one/
Some more general information (similar to the above article).

The Law on Fonts and Typefaces: Frequently Asked Questions (about commercial and non-commercial use) ... fb247d4481
And even more general info.

The Law on Fonts and Typefaces: Frequently Asked Questions (about commercial and non-commercial use)
Some interesting discussion on the legal aspects of fonts. Take, for example, this little excerpt: "Bitmapped fonts are considered to be computerized representations of a typeface (and are not protected by copyright law). On the other hand, scalable fonts (because they are incorporated as part of a program or software) are protected by copyright."

Font licensing center | Adobe Type
If you do hope to sell your fonts, it might be worthwhile to browse through Adobe's various links here to see how they go about it.

Commercial Type » Licenses » Desktop
This is actually an excellent overview of a rather complex, detailed commercial font license, with brief explanatory notes next to each paragraph to "dumb down" all the legalese.

Personal Use Sample License from Lost Type (PDF) ... Sample.pdf
A nice example of what you might do for a simple font license for fonts you want to be free for personal, non-commercial use.

Re: License suggestions?

Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:15 am
by Psymon
Here's another license, the GNU FreeFont License, which I guess is similar (in ways) to the SIL Open Font License...

This is so frustrating for me, actually. I've been working on my fonts for YEARS now, I think I'm finally finished up with them all, and this past week I've been working on an HTML page for my website to share them with the world... but I have NO idea still what to put for the license. :(

I was quite tempted, actually, to go with that SIL OFL one, it seems to be very popular with many type designers out there who just want to "give away" their font to anyone for free, but there's just some weird things in that license that seem a little iffy to me. Like, there's the option in there that people can take your font and include it on a CD of fonts for sale (even though your font is free), as long as it's not the only font on the disk -- and I don't know if I'm comfortable with that. I think I've made a pretty good set of fonts here, I've worked really hard on them, but it would rather piss me off if they ended up on a CD for sale and were the only reasonably decent fonts on the whole disk, with all the other fonts just total crap.

I just don't know -- maybe I'm letting my ego hold too much sway, and don't want others "stealing my thunder" (let alone making money off my efforts)?

Where's Bhikkhu? I need some good Buddhist advice here, methinks. :lol:

Re: License suggestions?

Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:04 pm
by PJMiller
I once toyed with the idea of selling my fonts, but I made some enquiries and the more I found out the less attractive it seemed.

Most font vendors want to give you a pittance for each copy of your font they sell and some of them want you to put up a significant chunk of cash to indemnify them against someone making a copyright claim against your font.

Then when you do get one of your fonts accepted for sale very few people buy it and you make a miniscule amount of money each year from the sales.

It is much less hassle and more fun just to give them away.

As for licensing the GNU License and the SIL Open Font license are roughly equivalent, except for the fact that the GNU GPL was written specifically for software and the SIL Open Font License was written specifically for fonts.

So if one applied a strict interpretation of the GNU GPL then each publication which uses a font licensed under GNU GPL must be Open Source as in it cannot be sold !

If you really want to use a GNU license then the GNU LGPL would be more appropriate, that one is written for compilers so the output of a LGPL program can be sold.

So a font licensed under GNU LGPL would not preclude selling publications produced with that font. But I would still go for the SIL Open Font License. It was specifically designed for fonts and so it adresses these issues.

Re: License suggestions?

Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:04 pm
by Psymon
Yeah, I've pretty much given up on the idea of selling my fonts, too -- from what I've heard from other type designers I've known, if I made a whopping $100/year from them in royalties I'd be amazed, and that's just not worth the effort of my having to now declare income as a business, do my taxes for that, file quarterly reports, etc. :roll:

I do actually find something "attractive" about the SIL OFL, too, and for the longest time I've been tempted to go with that one, but nevertheless there still seems to be something so very relaxed about it as for it to be an almost non-existent license -- others can apparently take your font, make a little change here and there, and then they can slap their own name on it, too (in addition to yours). That somehow doesn't seem fair -- it would be one thing for them to offer you a suggestion for a change or improvement, but to just take the bulk of your efforts and offer up very little contribution of their own just seems almost scandalous.

But then, I suppose I have to ask myself does that really happen? Even in the art world, there was Andy Warhol making millions from painting pictures of Campbell's soup can labels -- talk about copyright infringement there! -- nevertheless he got away with it. At the same time, there was only one Warhol, it's not like the soup can designing world was hit by millions of Warhols stealing their designs and making money off them. ;)

So if my fonts did end up on a CD or two for sale, should I really complain? Probably not that big a deal -- and if it turned out that my fonts were the best thing on the disk, and everything else on it was crap, well, maybe I should be pleased that I'm headlining the show. Even if it's lousy, trashy venue, I'd be the star! :lol:

And with the SIL license having been designed by type designers, for type designers, I do have to think that they surely must have taken all these things -- including "ego" -- into consideration. Not to mention that they have indeed gone to great lengths regarding all the legalese and stuff, too, and it's a solution that obviously many other type designers are happy with already.

So yeah, maybe that's the way to go for me, for my similar situation. Thanks for the input, PJ! I was feeling a bit hesitant and leery this morning about the SIL license after looking at their FAQ more closely, but your reply has kinda steered me back to it again -- and it does seem like a very simple, "ready-to-go" solution to go with. :)