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Adobe Fonts Get New License

by Mark H. Anbinder, News Editor <mha@baka.ithaca.ny.us>

Director of Technical Services, Baka Industries Inc.

Citing a change in the way computer users work with fonts, Adobe Systems Inc. last month announced a change in its licensing policy from a per-printer approach to a per-computer system approach. Adobe's new licenses permit use of a typeface product on five computers within a single organization, rather than on a single printer as before. In addition, all Adobe fonts will ship with Adobe Type Manager (ATM), software that scales PostScript fonts onscreen.

In the early days of typeface distribution, people used PostScript fonts primarily for high-quality output on a laser printer or imagesetter, and low-resolution bitmap fonts to display the type on computer screens. Display PostScript technology on NeXT workstations, and the subsequent arrival of (ATM) for Macintosh and then Windows, brought about the common use of outline fonts on individual computers. The result was that the licenses for Adobe's and other vendors' typeface packages didn't reflect ways in people now use fonts.

Adobe says that five is the average number of users connected to a single printer, so the new licensing agreement should not tend to make typeface purchases more expensive. The new license agreement also provides the flexibility larger organizations need for volume purchasing. For typeface users who wish to permanently download a given typeface to the hard drive connected to a PostScript printer, the license permits downloading to a single PostScript device. (There is no restriction on the automatic font download that occurs during ordinary printing, because the fonts don't remain in the printer.)

Adobe did not include Japanese typefaces in the change, and typefaces bundled with Adobe's application software packages come with a single-user license. Also, the Adobe Font Folio retains its two-printer license.

Existing Adobe customers may stick with the previous licensing scheme for products purchased under the old license. In other words, the license under which you purchased existing Adobe products remains in effect. Users have the option, however, of converting existing licenses to the new form. To do so, customers should list the typeface packages they own, then tally the number of computers on which the PostScript font files are installed, and send Adobe the information at the address below. As long as there are five or fewer computers per package owned, Adobe will send an updated license agreement. Users may purchase additional licenses, in order to make up for any shortfall, at a rate of $5 per typeface per computer.

At the same time, Adobe has announced special pricing for authorized service bureaus who wish to have affordable access to the Adobe Type Library in order to output customers' print jobs. (Adobe's license agreement does not permit users to give PostScript font files to service bureaus for output purposes, even temporarily. This has not changed under the new license.) Service bureaus will receive a special version of Adobe's Type On Call CD-ROM disc when their registration is approved, and may purchase individual typefaces by telephone for $10 each. Interested service bureaus should contact Adobe for more information.

Adobe Systems Inc. -- 800/833-6687 -- 415/961-4400
415/961-3769 (fax)
-- Information from:
Adobe propaganda