I have developed a client's brand around an adobe font. They are using a third party to create templated postcards for direct mail. This company requires a physical copy of the font and a signed license agreement. I cannot find this particular font for purchase anywhere. Is there a workaround you can recommend?
Use a different font, or find the font for purchase. There is no other workaround, if the company does not want to use Adobe Font subscriptions (or technically cannot). If you let us know the exact font name, we may be able to heklp you find it for purchase. Bear in mind the fonts in "Adobe Fonts" are mostly not made by Adobe, but many different font foundries (makers); most but not all are for sale by the foundry.
This company requires a physical copy of the font and a signed license agreement. I cannot find this particular font for purchase anywhere. Is there a workaround you can recommend?
They need to take a subscription of the Adobe CC and they have access to the fonts you used.
Most of the fonts are available for sale with the foundries or shops working with the foundries. Adobe pays a licence fee for using the fonts with this service and from time to time the licence holder (or Adobe) pull a font family from the service.
I don't know what your brand looks like, but if it consists of using a specific font as a corporate ID, that font needs anyhow to be acquired by the company.
Check to see if the font is licensed for embedding, if it is, send them a finished pdf design with the font embedded/subsetted.
Otherwise they would have to buy a license. Presumably any professional shop has a CC subscription in which case they have access to TypeKit fonts just as you do.
The quick answer:
If your client needs to actively use the font to generate new text, then they’ll need to directly license the font from the typefoundry in question. If they’re depending upon a third-party service provider to produce documents, that third party will also need to directly license the font.
If the font is being used only as a static part of the postcard template design, then your client might not need to directly license the font. The same applies for any third party that your client may hire.
It would help greatly if we knew the name of the font. That way, we’d be able to find out who currently owns the licensing rights.
The more detailed answer:
This is a somewhat subtle matter: what you can and cannot legally do will be down to the details of your font’s licensing terms.
If you licensed the font from the original Adobe Type Library, then your client will also need to license the font in question. If the font is part of the newer Adobe Fonts service, then both you and you client need to have active Creative Cloud subscriptions.
Please be aware that Adobe Fonts is a service that gives you access to typefaces produced by a wide range of typefoundries. Those foundries individually decide whether their typefaces remain part of Adobe Fonts.
That means if a foundry decides to withdraw their typefaces from Adobe Fonts, any working files that depend upon those typefaces will no longer typeset correctly. However, any PDF files and other static files that you’ve already generated from the original working files will continue to render correctly.
How does digital font licensing historically work? It depends upon the typefoundry: different foundries have different terms. However, Adobe’s traditional font licensing terms reflect those used by many foundries.
Understanding licensing means understanding what a font is. In the days of metal letterpress and phototype, typesetting was a physical process. Typesetters bought physical supplies, which allowed them to set text.
But in the digital world of computing, fonts are no longer physical: like operating systems and applications, they are software.
What’s a good way to understand how a digital font works? Think of a font as an application. A font is a set of software instructions describing how text should look.
You install fonts on your computer just like you install applications. The minor difference: fonts are tiny applications that run within other applications. That way, you can use a word processor to write some text, and then choose which font to apply to that text.
Fonts are like just like operating systems and applications: if they’re installed on your computer and you are actively using them, then you’re legally bound by software licences that explain in great detail what you can and cannot do.
And as with operating systems and applications, fonts also cost money. That means if you actively use fonts to set new text or to edit existing text, then you have to pay the appropriate licensing fees.
In most font licences, there is an exception: actively using a font costs money, but passively using a font does not.
In other words: to write something using a font costs money, but to read something using that font does not.
Examples of passive use include embedding font data into published PDF files, converting live editable text to vector outlines, and producing bitmapped graphics with text. Each of these cases allows readers to see the font you’re using in a published format, but doesn’t require them to have the font files installed on their computer or device. They can view the end result, but they cannot edit it.
As the internet developed and smartphones became more popular, it became possible to embed fonts into websites and applications. Typefoundries have responded by changing their licensing terms to allow for this. Since these cases require special font files to be locally stored and used to actively typeset text, most foundries charge licensing fees based upon how you use those fonts.
In your question, you don’t mention the name of the typeface your using in your design. If we know which typeface it is – and which typefoundry publishes it – then it would be easier to determine what your client needs to do.
If you’re using the typeface in one of the passive ways described above, then it’s unlikely that your client will need to license the font. For example: your postcard design uses the font, but only as part of the template itself. If your client and their third-party service provider doesn’t need that font to actively typeset and produce customized postcards, then you’re okay. Simply design the underlying static template, export it as a PDF file, and then build the variable-data layout file using that PDF as a graphic element placed in that layout. Since the font is statically embedded into the PDF file, your client and their third-party service don’t need to install or license the font to produce the final postcards.
But based upon the way that you’ve phrased your question, it sounds like your client wants to actively use the font to create new text. If they’re asking for the font files – and a corresponding font license – it sounds like they’re expecting that they should have legal rights to use the font, and that they’d like you to arrange that for them.
If the font in question is available on the Adobe Fonts service, then your Creative Cloud subscription gives you the licence to use it. Then all you need to do is verify that your client and their third-party service provider each have Creative Cloud subscriptions too. If that’s the case, then you don’t need to do anything else: everyone’s licensed to proceed.
If the font is no longer available on the Adobe Fonts service, then we’ll definitely need to know the name of the typeface. That way, we’d be able to work out how to license it properly from the correct typefoundry.
I hope that answers your question. If not, please let me know.