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What is wrong with Monotype's font licensing?

Monotype operates a number of sites to license their fonts:

These sites offer the same fonts and the same licensing terms.

Monotype's font licensing

Depending on your intended use, you need one or more of their license types for each font:

  • Desktop for print, logos, product packaging, offline use; gets you .ttf or .otf files.
  • Web for use on websites outside of ads; gets you .woff and .woff2 files.
  • DigitalAds for use in ads on the web; gets you .woff and .woff2 files.
  • App for embedding fonts into an application for display; gets you .ttf or .otf files.
  • ePub for embedding fonts into ebook-like products; gets you .ttf or .otf files.
  • Server for use on websites where users can choose from a variety of fonts to appear on products about to be produced; gets you .ttf or .otf files.

While complicated, I do get that Monotype asks for a different price when use differs by more than just a bit. But that's where understanding ends.

So what's wrong with Monotype's licensing?

1. I should not pay multiple times to gain access to different desktop font file formats.

Let's take font Futura. I can choose between these downloads:

  • a) OpenType .otf - Pro
  • b) OpenType .ttf - Pro
  • c) OpenType .otf - Std

If I need more than one — e.g. both .ttf and .otf — I pay twice or thrice, not just slightly more than for a single format. To me as a customer that makes as little sense as paying twice for a .bmp and a .png download of the same picture. If some formats require more time hinting than others, that's still no excuse to have me pay plain multiple times. And things get worse by the fact that it's anything but easy to figure out if you need OpenType CFF or OpenType TTF and if you need Std or Pro font files. I spent more than an hour researching on the format matter and probably still made the wrong choice. I shouldn't have too.

2. Tracking users and increasing page load time is not acceptable

When it comes to licensing fonts for use on the web, Monotype licenses a specific maximum number of page views — 250,000, 2,500,000, 25,000,000 or 75,000,000 — and forces the customer to have the web page to load a file from their server so they can count the number of page impressions. As a result:

  • They can track users across websites (whether they do that or not).
  • The load time of the web page increases for nothing of value to the customer or the customers of the customer.
  • It is mistrusting the customer.
  • It's a problem in light of the Slashdot effect: You hardly know upfront what content is going to go viral.

3. License type "Server" makes you pay by CPU core

The "Server" license type comes in flavors for 1 to 10 CPU cores. I don't see how the number of cores running my servers would be any of Monotype's business, virtual machine or not.

To summarize

Monotype's fonts are quite expensive already but the company chooses to use their market position to further extract money from their customers in ways that are not legitimate.