Font Licensing Issues
You probably don't think of fonts as software, but that's how fonts are distributed and licensed. They're not just little drawings of
. Fonts also contain instructions for font appearance and imaging. Consider the prodigious amount of work that goes into creating a font, and perhaps you'll understand why you shouldn't just
distribute fonts. Each character must be painstakingly drawn. The designer must take into consideration how
fit together, how they will look at various sizes, create hinting information, and much more. Professional font-creation software is expensive and complex because designing fonts is not a simple undertaking. Consider that a copy of the FontLab font editing application costs $650that should give you an idea of the nontrivial nature of font creation and font editing!
License Agreements (EULAs)
Yes, you'll find EULAs with fonts that you purchase (you
purchase them, didn't you?), although there's a good chance you've never read them. Most font foundries allow use of a purchased font on several workstations and one or two printing devices, so if you've bought a font for a three-person workgroup that shares one networked printer, you're probably
by the EULA (commonly pronounced
But the licensing situation is more complex than you may have realized. When you send your job to a print service provider, you gather up all the necessary files, including fonts. Surpriseyou're probably in violation of the EULA for doing so. Here's an excerpt from a major font foundry's EULA:
You may send a copy of any font along with your documents to a commercial printer or other service
to enable the editing or printing of your document,
provided that such party has informed you that it owns a valid license to use that particular font software.
In other words, to be in compliance with the EULA, both you and the print service provider must have purchased licenses for the font. You may have never read the fine print, but this is indeed the letter of the law when it comes to font licensing.
Embedding Fonts in PDFs
You may think that no font vendor would object to an end user embedding a licensed font in a PDF. Well, some do. (The
just keep coming, don't they?) While we're not aware of any method for extracting a font from a PDF, apparently some font
fear that it is (or may become) possible. To forestall such thievery, some have included clauses in their EULAs that prescribe that fonts must be
, which is a good idea, font licensing issues aside. Subsetting embeds only the characters needed to image the PDF file, rather than the entire font. They further stipulate that only one copy of the PDF must be supplied to the recipient. But beyond these two
harmless requirements, they insist that the PDF must contain security settings to allow only viewing and printing.
don't sound unreasonable until you consider an important aspect of securing PDFs. To make security settings stick in a PDF, you must use at least a permissions password to protect the security settings
. Otherwise, the recipient could just remove the security limitations. However, to place a secured PDF into a page, or to use it in an
process, the recipient will have to know the password to allow the file to be used. This defeats the purpose of
security, and seems to put both the creator of the PDF and the print service provider in the position of violating the EULA. So, once again, the legally acceptable solution is for the print service provider to purchase a license for the font. Note that some font vendors sell what is called a
service bureau license
at a reduced price, which is
an extension of your license and may be exercised by the print service provider only for output of your jobs. Yes, it's a complex subject. But the proprieties of font licensing are widely overlooked.
Several EULAs suggest submitting PostScript files to the print service provider. While this would
force a designer to painstakingly check files before setting them in digital concrete, it's a fairly draconian approach, and offers no provision for corrections.
The sanest legal approach is to truly read the EULAs for fonts you own, and take the measures necessary to be in compliance with their stipulations, even if it means purchasing additional licenses for your print service provider. It's a small addition to job cost in the interest of unquestionable legality.
Converting Text To Outlines
By now you're probably thinking, "Surely I can just convert my text to outlines and completely avoid the Font Police." Surprisingly (or perhaps not, at this point), converting text to outlines does not sidestep the provisions of the font vendor's EULA. In fact, while some font vendors' licensing allows conversion of text to outlines, many expressly
Additionally, you must consider that, even if a font vendor's EULA
outlining fonts, you may see some
loss of quality when converting to outlines,
with small, serif text.
citizen to do? First and foremost, read the license before you purchase fonts. If you're purchasing fonts online, the vendor should make the EULA available to you before you commit to purchasing a font. You'll find that some font foundries are less
than others on issues such as font embedding and outlining. Either patronize those with less stringent EULAs, purchase fonts for your print service provider...or learn how to create your own fonts.
will give you some sympathy for font designers!
your firstborn child Eula, or she won't be able to go
Sending Fonts to the Print Service Provider
If you have studied the fine print in the licensing agreements for all the fonts you're using in a project, and you've determined that you and your print service provider are in full compliance with any
licenses, remember to gather up all the necessary fonts when you submit your files for printing. See Chapter Twelve, "InDesign Production Tips," and Chapter Thirteen, "QuarkXPress Production Tips," for specific information on preparing page-layout files (including fonts) for the print service provider.
If you submit PDF files, make sure you've correctly embedded the fonts. See Chapter Fourteen, "Acrobat Production Tips," for general information about font handling in PDF files. For detailed information about creating PDF files from an individual application, see the appropriate chapter:
Chapter Ten, "Illustrator Production Tips"
Chapter Eleven, "FreeHand Production Tips"
Chapter Twelve, "InDesign Production Tips"
Chapter Thirteen, "QuarkXPress Production Tips"