OK, here’s something for *you*, typography and copyright fans (though obviously it applies analogously to things like music downloads)…
I bought a font today for $40 which I needed for work – in this instance I can invoice my client for it, but in other instances in the past I have just coughed up myself. Not often at this price, but occasionally. And perhaps only when, let’s say ‘other channels’, have failed to provide the font I need.
Now, technically the law of course protects the copyright of fonts and, unless you are licensed for more than one computer, you’re not supposed to share them across an office network even, let alone send them to pre-press bureau, clients, printers or whoever. But, of course, every damn advertising, design or publishing firm in the country sends them glibly around anyway: expediency demands it. (Though PDFs have rather reduced the need for this, it’s true.)
In all honesty I resent the charge of $40 just for one individual weight of a typeface (to have the whole family in this case was nearly $500, supposedly a generous discount from $720…). I’m not a big firm with big budgets. I’m just a Me.
The font foundries no doubt justify this – as software firms do (we’re thinking Quark here as the ultimate corporate bastard) – by saying that so many people nick their products that they *have* to charge this much. (There’s also the entirely valid point that the actual designers of these typefaces, like us designers pissing around with them to produce other things, deserve to be paid for their work.)
I admit that if people can get away with copying fonts or software or music, however cheap they are, they probably always will. But.
Surely if the foundries charged a subscription of, let’s stab at $100-$200 a year or something, for which one could have access for that year (and maybe the technology could permit the files to expire after that?) to *any* of their fonts, wouldn’t this be small enough a cost for most firms or freelancers to bear without much of a wince to the wallet, given the advantages it would offer?
And surely 100000 people paying $100 is as good as 10000 paying $1000 – not just in terms of revenue, but also because of the *good will* it would generate.
When I was younger, poorer and less mature, I gladly downloaded shareware all over the place and never even considered registering it. But now I find there are numerous really useful apps out there, often costing only about twenty quid, and I think it’s worth registering them – they’re helpful, and have shown ‘good will’ in producing something I want cheaply, so I’m willing to do the same by paying for them if I genuinely use them regularly.
I think I read recently that the type foundries have been getting together to consider what to do about all this, and in the meantime are cracking down more on the ‘thieves’ – but I earnestly hope they might have the vision to look at the situation from a different perspective.
What would your payment or subscription thresholds for things like fonts, software and music be? (Please don’t say ‘nothing’, because it really doesn’t address the economics of the issue…)