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Ralf Herrmann

Terminology nitpicking: to license a font

Licensing terminology  

9 members have voted

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

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

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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. 


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


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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