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Ralf Herrmann

Terminology nitpicking: to license a font

Licensing terminology  

30 members have voted

  1. 1. “To license a font”—What does it mean to you?

    • A) a user purchases a font license
      20
    • B) a foundry or vendor grants a font license
      10


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Ralf Herrmann

I am curious: what first comes to mind when you hear “to license a font”? Please answer the poll, without thinking too much about it first or reading the rest of this post. 

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Background: Technically, licensing is the act of granting a license and “to license” therefore means to grant a license. But it seems today at least colloquially it is often used the other way around. Maybe because it’s the user who actively does something in the online shop that people shift the act of licensing over to the user and so “to license” then means “to get a license”.  I just saw this “wrong” use again today in a Monotype article explaining font licensing. 

So first of all, I am interested what the status quo is. How many go with definition A and how many with definition B? Are there differences depending on where people live and what languages they use? And depending on the results, it would then be interesting to discuss what to do with these conflicting uses. Would it make sense to educate people about the traditional/formally correct use or should the shifted colloquial use be accepted instead. 

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Riccardo Sartori
12 hours ago, Melchior said:

Use these terms: 

It seems that in legal terms “license” is only used as a noun, not as a verb. In any case, the correct use is already been established. The question is if we should embrace the new accepted one.

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Ralf Herrmann

Just for clarity, a source for the verb: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/license

Quote

license — verb

  • meaning 1
    • a) to issue a license to
    • b) to permit or authorize especially by formal license
  • meaning 2
    • to give permission or consent to : ALLOW

 

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Max Phillips

It's hard enough to get people to buy licenses in the first place without policing their use of the word ‘license.’

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Ralf Herrmann
16 minutes ago, Max Phillips said:

It's hard enough to get people to buy licenses in the first place without policing their use of the word ‘license.’

I’m not sure what those things have to do with each other. Discussing terms is a normal thing to do. If people start to swap the meaning of ascender and descender, that might be something worth addressing, because it will obviously cause confusion. And some people simply have to address such things, e.g. teachers and book authors who have to make a decision what information they pass on to their students and readers. 

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Meddysong

I'm a native English speaker with a particular interest in language ... and I have to say that my initial response was "the user has paid someone else in order to have the right to use something".

I suspect that most native speakers would think this to be the case too; we would normally clarify with "from" and "to" if there were a risk of confusion.

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Mark Simonson

Both senses of the word "license" are valid in English, but I think the first is used more often.

On the other hand, when I communicate with customers and users I tend to use it as a noun, using phrases like "to purchase a license" or "to buy a web font license" to make it clear what they are buying.

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russellm

A grant, as I understand it, is a form of gift, albeit, one with conditions: An entity my receive a grant of money with the expectation that it will be used for a specified purpose. 

However, upon being asked to make the distinction between user purchase and foundry/vendor grant, I thought of it in terms of the sequence of events: I don't want my vendors to "give away my fonts" without getting paid first. As foundry, I have licenses distribute, but they are only distributed as part of a transaction initiated by the end user and entirely dependent on them paying money for the rights that go with the license. (I do have to some free fonts, but there is still an exchange of the presumed good will and intention of the end user to abide by the terms of the license, so I think it's the same thing.

... So my view is that a user purchases a license.

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