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Desktop font licenses that limit how many units you can print

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Diego Puentes

What do you fellow graphic designers and font designers think about commercial licenses of fonts (desktop licenses) that limit how many units a client can print? I recently had an issue with a font by a foundry in Florida (Yellow Design Studio) that restricts usage to 250,000 units on some fonts thru some retailers but not all. When I purchased the font I never thought it was an issue because most licenses don't use that language. The other fonts I purchased from that same foundry did not have restrictions. But, the limitation was in the license but I failed to see it because it is so rare. 

Yellow Design Studio have pursued legal action against my client.

I think font designers should be free to license in any way they prefer but a lot of us designers don't fully read the license and we have no clue what our clients will do with the designs we send them. How can I know how many units the client will produce?

Is this an issue others have faced?

I will never ever buy a font from Yellow Design Studio.

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Ralf Herrmann

It’s probably not what you want to hear, but I don’t think the specific restriction matters. As designers we can’t just expect certain conditions when selecting a font. We need to know them and make our decisions accordingly. If certain conditions are problematic for a project, then the font is removed from the set of candidates. I wouldn’t blame the foundry. It’s not their job to deliver licenses that work for every project and budget. They just make an offer and we have to consider if it works for us after studying the fine print. And when a third party (e.g. a client for the design) is involved, we have additional responsibilities to clarify how they might use the fonts and if necessary we might even have to educate them about the specific font license and font licensing in general. 

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Diego Puentes

Yes. I know you are right. I simply missed reading the restrictions on one of the three fonts I purchased. The first two did not have any restrictions so I probably ASSUMED the third one was the same. It was an expensive mistake and ruined a client relationship. 


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  • 2 weeks later...
Diego Puentes

Font resellers should make it more obvious that commercial fonts that are purchased have practical and legal limitations.  Otherwise rotten foundries (like Yellow Design Studio) will pursue litigation against clients.

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