Choosing a font licensing scheme

08 October 2021   fonts licensing

Moving forward towards the goal of becoming a commercial font provider, it was time to define how Hipertipo fonts are going to be licensed.

Font makers with far more experience and resources than myself have given the subject of font licensing a lot of thought. So, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel yet again, I’ve looked into how other designers and foundries license their fonts.

Even though the solutions vary greatly, I could observe 3 distinct patterns:

  1. Most foudries use a fine-grained licensing model which requires separate licenses for print, web and app use, with each license having its own usage metrics and price scaling calculation.

  2. Some foundries offer a single unified license which covers print, web and app use. This cross-media license comes in different sizes, and each size is defined by limit values which use different metrics for each type of use.

  3. A few foundries use a different pricing scheme in which the price is calculated not in terms of the volume of use (measured by the number of computers, page views, or apps), but as the relative value of the fonts (measured against the size of the company or the revenue of the project).

(There is of course a lot more nuance to this picture than what I’ve captured in my quick survey.)

Between the 3 directions, I find the first one too complicated, and the third one too unfamiliar. So the middle one it is.