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Exploring the Business & Licensing of Type with Christopher Slye


Ralf Herrmann

This talk took place on Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at the SFPL as part of Type@Cooper West's Letterform Lecture series. This recording is made available by a generous sponsorship from Adobe Typekit.

Type licensing is a nearly invisible concept to most type users. What most people think of as “buying a font” is almost always “licensing font software” – but what’s the difference, and why should anyone care?

Once upon a time, type was used almost exclusively by trained craftspeople, using specialized equipment – but now type is something anyone can get and use, with scant awareness of a typeface as intellectual property, protected by laws and licensing agreements. The average type user is left wondering what they are really allowed to do with it, usually at their own legal peril.

Christopher Slye will take a tour through the business of type and its licensing practices, past and present, explaining its mysteries and its relevance for businesses, users, and type designers alike – with a focus on modern media like desktop publishing, the web, and mobile apps.

Christopher Slye is Business Manager for Adobe Type and Typekit. Since joining Adobe’s typographic staff in 1997, he has worked in the design and production of Adobe Originals typefaces, helped guide Adobe’s type-related technology and initiatives, contributed to the development of open web font standards, and managed all aspects of Adobe’s type licensing programs.


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