You brought a great design idea to life that also met the specifics of a brief. Your client liked it. You surely liked it. Worst case scenario – you get an email from a concerned client, who was contacted by a type foundry for legal matters. And this crucial situation can easily escalate, all from neglecting font licensing terms. 

In this blog, Fontfabric addresses the ABC’s of font licensing, some examples of licenses available out there and assist you on choosing the best license for your needs.

Learn more about specific to us and Fontfabric Licensing.

The basics of font licensing

A large percent of the design projects you either work on or encounter on a daily basis require work with a type of some sort. And oftentimes this work is executed on a computer, if self-made. Those fonts are then considered pieces of software that come with individual regulations in relation to whom, when and how to use fonts. But when someone says they are purchasing a font, what they mean is that they pay a certain amount to retain the right to use it.

What a font license does is it gives the possessor the right to use an already-existing typeface in any way that the license authorizes. You will find a list of those terms and conditions in the End-user License Agreement (EULA) that comes with each license, even when you are getting yourself a free font. 

You may wonder – do I need a font license? The short answer is – yes. It is a designer’s responsibility to also check and familiarize themselves with all legal factors in order to escape a typeface scene. Keep in mind that once signed, the license cannot be changed, nor tweaked. 

Find more about the essentials of font licensing and the legal use of fonts on our blog.

The different types of licenses

Font licenses are neither more complicated, nor simpler than any other software license, but with each stakeholder in mind, font licenses can differ in many ways.

Something important to keep in mind when looking for the best license for you, is to choose based on these major factors: project lifespan, budget and variety of fonts. As almost each license is being custom-built based on needs, we have wrapped the different types into 3 main models, and they are as follows:

Annual licenses

Annual licenses allow people to access a font library based on the scope of work planned for a particular point of time. In the case of web fonts, for example, this comes down to prepaying for an expected number of page views (PV). The source code includes a dedicated counter code that keeps record of the number of visits, and once this number exceeds you can purchase more.

In general, this option is great for a small scope of work or companies that aim to fulfill certain yearly budgets, without needing to take care of their font management from a long-term perspective. In such cases, we offer annual licenses per request.

Something to note is that this option can get way more expensive than the other models in case your projects increase significantly with time.

Subscription licenses

This is a subscription service that you can normally find with other subscription on-demand services, such as Netflix. For example, with this font license model, fonts can be provided to your website rather than users self-hosting them on their own web server. The subscription license, just like the rest of other types, usually comes with certain conditions. In our case – regarding the number of page visitors and the domain name.

A great plus of this licensing model is that the subscriber has access to a pool of different font varieties to pick from. This being said, the user can easily switch and decide between fonts back and forth, without any additional costs. Moreover, this option is great for people that cannot finalize a decision on their type choice. If you want to try such a service, a good option is Rentafont, where you can find some of our well-known typefaces, like Gwen, Mont and Intro.

However, there is a major downside to subscription licenses – they don’t work for long-term projects, such as branding work, especially money-wise. This is due to the nature of the option. After the subscription ends, your license is gone.

Perpetual licenses

This last model, and our personal favorite, is the perpetual. What is great about this type of licensing is that you can pay a one-time fee and enjoy your newly purchased fonts forever. Needless to say – perpetual licenses are also a very budget-friendly option, especially for long-term projects. If you’re working on a design restricted by a certain time frame, such as a campaign, for example, your best bet is a subscription-based model.

So, at this point, you may wonder – what’s the catch? Well, there isn’t one with perpetual licenses!

How to decide what license is best for you

Now you know – you are expected to purchase a license of some sort in order to complete the works you will be doing at work or for clients. Always considering a couple of essential factors before you start will always help you decide on the best font license that suits your needs. 

First you need to decide whether you will use the typework for commercial or personal use. Important: Always read each license carefully. 

The next thing you should take into consideration is the usage and scope of work. Simply, more work – a more granting license. Opting in for the wrong type, or a limiting license can easily lead to you paying more for underestimating a project.

In case you need assistance choosing the best font license that meets your requirements – reach out and you can get professional advice from Fontfabric.

So, what is the future of font licensing?

The font licensing industry is constantly evolving with new trends and technologies. One major trend is the shift towards subscription-based models, giving designers access to a wider range of fonts for a lower cost. However, this model has huge drawbacks. Often the activation period is not enough or the designer didn’t consider that the client will need to have long-term font licensing. What happens is that the cheap becomes expensive due to miscalculating certain licensing needs or simply not having enough knowledge on the topic.

This is where blog posts like this one or consulting with experts comes in handy.

Additionally, there is a growing demand for variable fonts, which allows for greater flexibility and customization in typography. A lot of companies prefer to have their own typefaces, therefore cutting the licensing costs and limitations in perpetuity.

Overall, the font licensing industry is likely to continue to adapt to the ever-changing technologies and consumer demands, with an emphasis on accessibility, flexibility and affordability. 

Get a font with a perpetual font license from Fontfabric

You read this right – ALL of Fontfabric’s fonts come with a perpetual license! We’re always looking for better and budget-friendly solutions for our clients and this is the main reason why when you purchase a license from us, you get it for life.

Of course, we have other alternatives as well, such as our flexible annual license option, which you can get upon additional request here.

So, no matter if you’re designing a logo, custom t-shirts, mobile games or anything else under the sun – we’ve got an amazing font with a perpetual license waiting for you. And as we believe in the try-before-you-buy philosophy, you can test every single font family in our shop – all you need to do is download the trial option.

Head on to our shop and browse through our library of options to find the perfect font for your next design project – and without burning a hole in your wallet.

Didn’t find an answer to your question? Leave us a comment down below and we’ll make sure to help you out.