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Check your fonts are licensed and legal

When your organisation is publishing in print or on the web, does anyone check where the text fonts came from? Do you have a licence for the fonts you use? If not, the message today from the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) is that you are taking a serious risk.28 Aug 2003

Font designer Agfa Monotype has joined forces with FAST to tackle the growing issue of unlicensed fonts – which costs the UK font industry 40% of its revenues, according to Agfa. This new initiative expands FAST's remit as specialists in the prevention of software piracy.

The vast majority of users acquire fonts in operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and software applications like Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop. What they can forget is that these fonts are supplied under the terms of the software application licence with usually very limited usage terms. For instance, the right to use a particular font is curtailed to any one specific workstation or desktop.

Font-licensing terms can be more complex still. They are often non-standard, governed by usage and vary according to the foundry (font publisher). This, coupled with users having no clear information source on the subject, is a major headache for UK corporates.

Paul Brennan, general counsel at FAST explains:

"This is a huge issue, but most corporates are unaware that it even exists. Corporate end users must understand the gravity of font software theft."

Julie Strawson, Marketing Director at Agfa Monotype adds:

"The creative and design community is traditionally small, informal and therefore trust-based. But the nature of font distribution has been dramatically affected by the internet, creating the need for tighter controls on licensing. The software applications sector has been driving the issue of its intellectual property for many years. FAST's extensive experience here will be invaluable in ensuring that designers are receiving just rewards for their intellectual property and that end-users are totally software compliant. Agfa Monotype hopes that the entire font community joins FAST in this initiative to ensure its success."

Jeremy Tankard, of Jeremy Tankard Typography Ltd, one of the first small font manufacturers to join the new initiative regards this as "a giant step forward for the small producer." He says, "we will now be able to rely on the full backing of large foundries when selling our software products worldwide."

Brennan concludes:

"Corporate end users be warned – to achieve software compliance the issue of fonts cannot be ignored. In our experience most organisations are not even aware that fonts have to be audited in exactly the same way as software."

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