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There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding font "licensing" and "permissions". Isn't the license to design with it what we are purchasing when buying the font? For basic commercial design work, what further "permissions" are needed? Are we expected to draw up a contract, send additional fees? With whom/To whom? If so, why isn't the fee schedule for basic usage clearly set forth at the time of purchase? There seems to be an across-the-board lack of clarity about this by font providers. And there is this big looming spectre of possible future lawsuits hovering over design work, a bit unfairly, I believe. The rules and requirements need to be spelled out clearly so that designers who are trying to be honest don't have to jump through hoops to get basic information, and don't have to worry about unexpectedly getting socked with some horrible fines at a future date.

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Closely related: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/539/… –  e100 Jul 30 '12 at 12:52
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2 Answers

The "further permissions" required are typically spelled out in the End User License Agreement.

Admittedly, this isn't always easy to read nor find, and, I agree, can be confusing.

Typically, things that might require additional licensing above and beyond the standard one you have already purchased may include:

  • use in a logo (rare, but some foundries, such as House Industries require that you pay for an additional license if you are a large corporation to use a font in a logo)
  • use as part of a product. Typically if you are using the font to create a consumer product for sale (such as a set of alphabet blocks), you will need an additional license
  • digital embedding. If you plan on using the font inside of a software product, web site, or PDF, you may need an additional license.
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I'd add any kind of on-demand use by a third party, eg using the font for text on a t-shirt that buyers can edit when they order online. Although this is a special case of digital embedding. –  e100 Jul 30 '12 at 12:29
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In addition to DA01's answer, note that:

  • the licence normally covers use of the font only by the purchasing individual or organisation. So if your client or printing company need to edit your source files, they'll need to buy their own licence.

  • licences may be for a single device or user, but often they allow for up 3 or 5 devices (which might include printers or servers). There may be options to increase this at time of purchase.

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