Font licensing, explained.
Follow a font as it journeys through a brand, and see why different uses require different licensing arrangements.
Do I need separate font licenses for different uses?
Yes. Even if your brand only uses one typeface (let’s say, Futura Now), the font software needs to be licensed for the different environments where it will be used.
There are a few basic license types offered by Monotype, each pertaining to a different form of usage. Desktop licenses allow you to install a font on a computer for use in print or in static image formats; webfont licenses allow you to embed the font into a website or email; embedded licenses let you distribute fonts in physical products like medical devices, cars, or in software programs; mobile app licenses allow fonts to be embedded in phone/tablet apps; ePub licenses cover usage in commercial publications; and server licenses enable web or cloud-based services and SaaS use cases.
Quick example: If a brand licenses Futura Now for some print materials, then later decides to launch an app also using the same typeface, they’ll need to secure a mobile app license for Futura Now before the app is deployed.
Can I use a font with a desktop license on my website?
No. A typical desktop license allows you to install the font on your computer for use in design programs like InDesign. Webfont licenses allow you to embed that font in the code for a website or email. So, whereas you might use a desktop license to create a static image (like a .jpeg) you upload to your website, a webfont license facilitates the implementation of the font in the actual code of your website.
Once I license a font, can I share it with as many people as I want?
Not exactly. Most EULAs limit the number of “seats” or “workstations” that are allowed, aka the number of times it can be shared. If you need to share a font widely (for example if you have a huge creative team) you can include that in your initial license agreement. You can also purchase additional licenses to add seats or workstations if your needs change.
Bonus: What is the difference between a typeface and a font?
Although the terms “font” and “typeface” are often used interchangeably, they do not, in fact, mean the same thing. “Typeface” refers to the design—the actual appearance of the letters, numerals, punctuation, and other symbols—while a font is the physical embodiment of the typeface, whether it’s a case of metal type or a computer file. More simply, a font is what you license and use, and a typeface is what you see.
A typeface is usually grouped together in a family containing individual fonts for a range of styles, including thin, light, regular italic, bold, condensed, and other variations of the primary design. Individuals and brands can license a single font, the whole family, or any selection of fonts from a typeface.
Quick note from the Monotype legal department: The information included here pertains to Monotype font licenses only. Other foundries may have unique requirements or restrictions in their contracts. Always read your licensing agreements closely.