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Adobe considers service provider’s font licence compromise

Friday, 10 August 2001
By Print 21 Online Article

Under the scheme prepress operators and printers may be able to buy a service provider’s licence for Adobe fonts which will be significantly cheaper than the present tariff. Although no figure has been mentioned it’s likely that that the service provider’s licence would be significantly less than $10,000. The full licence is currently on special until November for $16,000, down from $24,000.

This would allow service providers such as printers and prepress houses to use Adobe fonts for processing of jobs where there is no element of creation. The compromise follows uproar in the industry when Adobe initially threatened to begin prosecutions against printers and prepress operators for processing work with fonts they did not own. The possible compromise was reached after extensive talks between Adobe and the PIA and GASAA

Adobe has undertaken not to pursue service providers, printers and prepress companies who are not complying with the current font licence while waiting on a decision from head office. This does not apply to companies that use Adobe fonts to create work or use other Adobe software applications such as Adobe PhotoShop or Adobe Acrobat.

“Look, I don’t know when printers and prepress houses began to think they did not need to own licensed fonts. The rules have been clear since the mid-nineties at least, ever since designers stopped using screen fonts,” said Jordan Reizes, Adobe Marketing Manager. “The industry has changed from the early days and now many prepress houses have some design and make-up in their businesses. There’s a fair amount of hypocrisy in some of the claims.”

As part of its campaign Adobe is attempting to stamp out the common practice whereby designers ring around their suppliers and mates in search of a specific font they don’t own. Because prepress houses usually have a large array of, mostly illegal, fonts accumulated from previous jobs, they often supply the font to the designer who is a customer.

“If we could stop that single practice, this whole effort would be worthwhile,” said Jordan Reizes. “I’m not saying all designers operate like that but a lot do. We’re trying to work with the industry, we’re not taking the heavy jackboot approach and I think many people in the industry recognise that.”

He concedes that long industry practice has given a seeming legality to the practice of unlicensed fonts and admits that the current crackdown could have been handled better.

“With hindsight we possibly could have approached it in a different way, but if we had, I wonder whether it would have attracted the type of attention it’s getting now,” said Jordan.

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