In the US at this moment, each instance of an uncertified copy of a typeface on your computer can be punished with a $5,000 fine.
Previously, an artist would create art and collect for output to include all images, fonts, instructions, even metadata sometimes. This would all go by hard copy to the client. Who in turn would take it to production/ the printer. This was considered “fair usage” for the client because the artist owned the font, and the printer prints it. This means that only one license need be obtained, by the artist, for “actual usage”.
Contrarily and presently, each step in the chain must own a separate license for each font. As I noted in a previous conversation, to own the Helvetica Family fully is $999.00. (That is a must own for a shop.) In other words, Monotype (or Linotype?) gets $3,000 instead of just the $1,000. This is an unfair burden on small print shops who must have a work-around.
So, as with any other industry, the big hitters are pushing the law to maximize profits - (this is normal development - shady? maybe, but predictable). The problem is our legal systems too slow to keep up with the shady practices of the large companies that infringe the rights to work and ability to do so on an even basis. And what about the struggling artist? Is he doomed to use only the font library that came with their computer? Isn’t that unfair? How can one compete against the big companies that own all the guten stuffen?
But does that rise to the level of “court consideration”? Does that rise to the level of a “case or controversy”? Is there an “actionable consideration” to bring before the courts? NO. Why? Because in order to do so, you must show 1. you suffered a loss, and 2. that loss was directly attributable to the company causing it. Besides, they aren’t doing anything illegal.
As we speak, I get art in every single day with fonts from the “twilight zone file”: fonts that are used maybe once a year. Our work-around is to have all text outlined prior to us receiving. Anyone in the business for a month knows the inherent working problems with that. But the larger problem is, that in order for me to change an “a” to an “o” I need to go find one and copy and paste it into place (if one is available on the art). If I need to reflow a paragraph, guess what? It all has to go back to the artist.
This is a “clear and unnecessary undue burden” placed upon small business and independent contractors (freelancers) that give large businesses a massive advantage. *(Please don’t tell me “yeah it’s always like that.” I know. This is not a political or economic discussion.)
Do I have a solution? Yeah. Go back to old fair usage standards because they are fair. Allow the artist or client to buy the font they want, but to be able to make it company AND job specific so that the fonts can legally travel with the art.
I’m not writing this to show I know something. I’m writing this because this is a massive expense in both time and money that constitutes an unfair and unnecessarily burdensome practice distributed unevenly and affecting the least able to defend themselves. In other words, it WILL be changed because that has always been the (basic) legal basis for large scale change in business law.
But it isn’t going to happen until we, artists, printers, copywriters, illustrators and fine artists make enough noise about it. I want you to turn this off. I want you to go to your window. I want you to open it up and yell “I’m sick and tired and I’m not going to take it anymore!” †
** words/phrases in " " are legal terms of art.*
† bonus points for anyone recognizing the reference.