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Are your fonts legal?


New Member
Publisher in £80,000 font raid
Software audit finds 11,000 unlicensed typefaces

Published Tuesday 27th June 2006 09:01 GMT

A publishing firm fell foul of the law by using unlicensed typefaces worth £80,000, according to licensing lobby group the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

The publishing firm had claimed to be using just one font but in fact was found using 11,000.The publisher was the subject of a BSA enquiry after an ex-employee tip-off, said the BSA, which is funded by software companies.

The organisation conducted a software audit of London's Campden Publishing and a specialist in font auditing and management, Monotype, was brought in by Campden to do the same for the firm's typefaces.

"Of particular concern, given the nature of Campden's business, was the enormous number of unlicensed fonts they were discovered to be using," a BSA statement said. "When completing the BSA's audit report, Campden initially claimed to be using only one font, which – for a leading publishing firm – was clearly incorrect."

Campden had found itself in financial problems and was the subject of a management buy-in when new chief executive John Pettifor took control of the company. After what is believed to have been a tip-off from an ex-employee, the BSA contacted the company about its software compliance.

Pettifor discovered that 95 per cent of the Adobe software used by the company, and 75 per cent of the Microsoft software, was unlicensed. "This came as a complete shock, although with the benefit of hindsight perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised," said Pettifor. "Software asset management is the last thing on your mind when you arrive at a company that is struggling for cash. The business was in real financial trouble and this issue wasn't even on the radar."

The situation with font management was even more serious. "Most companies are dependent on fonts to communicate and for their corporate identity," said Julie Strawson of Monotype. "For many companies fonts are an integral part of their branding, and none more so than publishers who rely on them to produce many distinct publications."

The problem is complicated by the fact that some fonts can arrive as part of other people's documents and can sometimes stay, unlicensed, on a network.

"Many do not recognise that fonts are intellectual property just like any other kind of software and must be paid for," said Strawson. "It is not a question of picking an choosing which software you manage."

The company has now become fully compliant, but the cost of doing so has landed on its books all at once. "I really wish this had been sorted out long before I arrived," said Pettifor. "Purchasing licences for each piece of software may have taken a little time, but it would also have helped spread the financial outlay."

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.


New Member
No prob's Doug :) ..noticed Mark was off line.

Brings up some good points. I usually install all that come along on whatever program I bought, i.e Corel or Adobe. Have purchased a few that I needed but never really thought about fonts as a separate issue, which, as evidenced by this article, it most certainly is! OUCH! 80K Pounds has gotta hurt!!!


New Member
Another good read/link from the site...
"The Business Software Alliance has doubled its maximum reward for people who report the use of unlicensed software within UK businesses before the end of June. Staff can report their bosses, remain anonymous, and receive up to £20,000.

"By doubling the incentives for informants we are also effectively doubling the risk for businesses of getting caught out," BSA regional manager northern Europe Siobhan Carroll said. "Hopefully this will make software licensing a higher priority..."

The Maxinum reward in the USA is about $200,000. So, if you're using pirated software, watch out :)
Here's the link to the Business Software Alliance...
It would be easy money reporting all the hack sign shops when you compare it to the effort of actually running a real sign business. And people sometimes ask why I charge $85 per hour for my time, even though I work from home.


Steve C.

New Member
It's a Damn Shame. Fonts are probably the most abused because of the small file size and ease of attaching and copying. Because of the overwhelming abuse one font vender is working on a font file that will not allow its self to be copied or transfered in any way from one computer to another. Once it is installed thats it. One computer and one only. You will need premission from the vender to move it or copy it. This is what pirating has done!

You are right - it is a dammmmmmm shame.

I can most definitely understand where many are coming from - BUT (and you knew there was one) - what about the guy, such as myself that likes to "clean" his machines on a regular basis?

One reason for this is that we try a lot of software - sooner or later you have to start fresh. Then there are times when we just remove something that has not been used in a long time.

Many will say that it is not an issue, but if you do this at 3 am (which I do) - then it would be.

Maybe charging more would offset this - I don't know - maybe make it worse???


New Member
About 90% of my fonts are legal. I have a set of good fonts that came free in a package of Flexi Sign Pro years ago and I have purchased fonts from Sign DNA, SignFonts.com, letterheadfonts.com and others over the years. The only fonts that are not legal are ones I have received from customer supplied art and are part of their design package, I just have not deleted them from my computer.
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Bobby H

Arial Sucks.
I don't condone the practice, but font piracy is a very widespread sort of thing. I would even say it is even more widespread than the blantant pilfering of Adobe software titles. There's lots of free font websites out there. But I'm not sure if they do more to hurt the situation further than help it. One might figure, "well, there's all these thousands of free fonts over here, why do I need to pay hundreds of dollars for a single type family there?"

Ultimately, I think if you really like a certain font family you should just go ahead and buy it. Support the fellow or foundry that developed it. Don't just wait for everyone else to pay for the work.