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The font industry is starting to charge additional fees when you distribute PDFs and EPUBs with their copyrighted fonts embedded into the files.
Here are some strategies to protect your materials…and your wallet!
[updated August, 2020)
Fact: fonts must be embedded into a PDF or EPUB in order to meet accessibility requirements, such as Sec. 508 and PDF/UA.
And if you’re making a printable PDF to send to a print shop, GPO (the US Government Publishing Office), or a copy shop, the fonts should be embedded into that file, too. Otherwise the printer will need to install copies of the fonts you used — and possibly purchase them — adding to the cost of your print run. Additionally, text reflow problems crop up in this type of workflow because there’s a chance that the fonts won’t be an identical match to yours.
So assume that whenever you make a PDF, whether it's for printing or posting on your website, you must embed the document's fonts into the PDF.
Some font manufacturers and foundries are tacking on additional licensing fees to embed their fonts into EPUBs, PDFs, and other digital media.
You pay twice:
It doesn't matter whether the document is used for commercial or educational purposes. Fonts are copyrighted software and covered by intellectual property laws. Many font manufacturers are now "monetizing their intellectual property," as I was told by a font designer.
They are tightening up control of their intellectual property.
This policy change started a couple of years ago and appears to be spreading throughout the font industry. It's fairly easy today for a font manufacturer to search websites, locate the sites' PDFs and EPUBs, and identify who manufactured the fonts in the files…and then send you an invoice for the additional licensing fees that allow you to continue to publish the document with those specific fonts.
Although Adobe's Fonts are, at this time, free for subscribers to its Creative Suite subscription program (which includes InDesign), Adobe does have the right to change its policy at any time in the future. So does any other font manufacturer. Fonts are their property, not ours (we've never "owned" any software, including fonts). It's their game and they set the rules.
Many designers and publishers got used to getting a stash of free fonts with their software purchases. 20 years ago they came on the CD in the "free goodies" folder from Adobe and other software companies.
But now we face the additional cost of licensing fonts that will be embedded into PDFs, EPUBs, and digital media that are distributed through websites or other methods.
Every font manufacturer sets their EULA (end user licensing agreement) and licensing restrictions, so it's your responsibility to read the fine print of the manufacturers of your fonts.
We’ve seen font manufacturers add extra fees for:
Some sample EULA's from well-known font manufacturers are listed below. Note the different usage categories of fonts:
Many font manufacturers require a separate license for each usage category for each edition of each document. For example, if a designer uses the same font for each monthly edition of a magazine for client A, as well as for a book for client B, there could be licensing fees each month for the magazine as well as for the one-time book. And for each file type, such as EPUB and PDF.
Now you have them. Now you don't.
Both Adobe and Microsoft have had to remove fonts from their libraries and operating systems because the font foundaries (manufacturers) revoked their license to sell or give the fonts to us. Two recent shockers:
Whether you’re exporting the PDF from MS Word, Adobe InDesign, or another program, learn how to drill down into the export options to set the conversion to embed all fonts used in the source file. (Our 508 classes cover how to set these options.)
There are some great designs from Google Fonts, such as Noto Sans/Serif, Source Sans/Serif, Open Sans; and specimens run the gamut from traditional serif and sans serif to scripts, handwriting, and decorative fonts. See https://fonts.google.com/
See the EULA (end user license agreement) at Google Fonts: www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0. Sections 2 and 4 specifically outline your right to embed these fonts in any form of digital media (websites, PDFs, EPUBs, Word, etc.) and grants your right to distribute “derivative works” that use their fonts.
That’s the kind of license publishers and designers need. Other brands of royalty-free fonts will have a creative commons license or a SIL open font license.
Note: open source fonts (royalty-free fonts) are not the same as OpenType fonts (a type of font technology based on Unicode.) Be careful to not confuse the 2 "open" terms.
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