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Adobe typeface licensing FAQ

For further information or to obtain license ordering information, call Adobe at 800-682-3623, or write to us with your comments at:
Type Department
Adobe Systems Incorporated
345 Park Avenue
San Jose, CA 95110

What is Adobe's type licensing policy?

Adobe is now licensing its typeface software by computer, in the same manner as most application software is licensed today. This means that the purchase of a retail typeface package from Adobe now entitles the customer to use the typeface software on a computer for viewing, editing, and printing, irrespective of how the computer is connected to printers or networks. The number of computers allowed by the license is determined by the manner in which the typefaces are delivered to the customer, as detailed by the following:

  • Retail Typeface Packages are licensed for five CPUs and up to one permanent download to an Adobe® PostScript® printer
  • Bundled Typeface Packages are licensed to one CPU and up to one permanent download to a PostScript Printer.

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Why did Adobe change its typeface licensing agreement?

Historically, Adobe has licensed its typeface products by printer, meaning that anyone who shared a printer in an office environment would be allowed to share the typeface files as well. This licensing policy was implemented during the early days of electronic fonts, when bitmap fonts were used to represent the typefaces on the computer screen and the outline data was only used on PostScript-language printers, well before the invention of Adobe Type Manager® (ATM®). When ATM came along, Adobe allowed sharing of outline fonts as well, for backward compatibility and other reasons.

The size and complexity of customer networks has grown to the point where keeping track of printer usage by individuals is no longer practical. The software industry today shows overwhelming acceptance of CPU-based licensing as well. Adobe decided that the time has come to revamp its licensing policies to make the accounting for typefaces much easier to understand and to implement by customers.

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Why are bundled typefaces limited to one computer license?

Applications which bundle typefaces, such as Adobe Illustrator®, are licensed to a single computer, so it makes sense to license typefaces bundled with them in the same manner.

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What is a "download" and why is it important?

A "download" here refers to the practice of sending the Type 1 typeface software from the user's computer to the PostScript-language printer for volatile storage in printer RAM or nonvolatile storage on a printer's hard disk or other medium. This is done to enhance printing performance, and is commonly done with the Adobe Font Folio™ product at service bureaus and other high-end customers. The restriction specifically does not apply to the automatic downloading of typefaces which happens during ordinary print jobs, because the fonts do not remain in printer memory after the print job is completed.

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Why does Adobe limit the number of downloads to PostScript-language printers?

It is possible to obtain correct printouts from printers which have been downloaded with Type 1 typefaces even if the typefaces being printed are not installed on the user's computer. This can occur if the user installs only bitmap copies of the typefaces and uses ATM to scale the bitmaps on the user's screen. The screen image is ugly, but the printed output is as good as if the user had installed the typefaces on his or her computer. Bitmap fonts have been and will continue to be free of charge in low resolutions. Adobe is limiting the number of downloads to printers to prevent users from buying one copy of the typefaces, downloading the faces to a large number of printers, then spreading the free bitmaps around to other users, thus denying rightful revenue to Adobe.

Essentially, Adobe intends to charge for typefaces when they are used to render type, whether that occurs in a printer (in the case of a downloaded typeface) or on a computer screen via ATM. Adobe believes this is the most equitable and manageable process for selling type. Most users will not see this as a limitation.

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What is the license for Adobe Font Folio?

The Adobe Font Folio product retains its current two-printer license, since this is more consistent with the manner in which the product is used. In most cases, the Adobe Font Folio typefaces are all permanently downloaded to a nonvolatile storage disk on the printer(s) being used, so it is easier for customers to track their usage of entire libraries by counting printers. Every other Adobe type product will be licensed under the CPU model.

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Will Adobe typeface customers essentially be paying more for their typefaces?

No. It is definitely not Adobe's intention to raise prices. Adobe has conducted research on computer-to-printer ratios with its customers and has concluded that five computers per printer is on the generous side now and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

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Is there an upgrade path from printer licensing to CPU licensing?

Yes, Adobe is providing a method for customers to migrate to the new licensing method. Adobe will convert each valid printer license upon request into a computer license without charge. Retail type library packages will convert at the rate of five computer licenses per printer license. Bundled typefaces, such as those shipped with application products, will convert at the rate of one computer license per printer license.

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If the customer is connected to more than one printer with five CPUs, will the typeface package function?

Yes. Adobe has not used copy protection on typeface products for years, and does not intend to bring this back. Adobe depends upon the honesty and integrity of its customers to follow the licensing rules.

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What if the customer needs more computer licenses than are provided by the 1 to 5 ratio?

Customers who wish to purchase extra licenses may do so directly from Adobe. To obtain a price quotation for conversions, contact Adobe at the telephone number listed at the top of this document.

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What if customers find that they need more licenses than they already have?

Adobe will not pursue legal action against companies who find that they require additional licenses to be legal if these companies take the initiative to promptly apply for license conversion and if they purchase the required number of licenses as part of the conversion process.

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Is conversion to computer-based licensing mandatory?

No. Customers are free to use the products they have already purchased under the terms supplied when they bought the products. Conversions are a service provided by Adobe to assist companies in managing their typefaces in a legal fashion.

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How do customers obtain license conversions?

Customers can call Adobe at the number listed at the top of this document to obtain a license conversion or to purchase additional computer licenses. Instructions for this will be in the User Guide for typeface products and on Adobe's Automated Fax Response system. The customer will be required to send a request on company letterhead stating the products involved and the current number of valid licenses they have for each of those typefaces.

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Is proof of ownership required with the application for license conversion?

Adobe requires that proof of ownership must be provided upon demand. Adobe does not require this proof to be submitted with the request at this time. Adobe believes that the great majority of customers are honest and will request proof only if necessary to verify compliance with its licensing policies.

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Can Adobe convert printer licenses purchased from other type vendors such as Monotype or Agfa?

No. The issue is the source of the end-user license agreement that is included with the package the customer buys, not the foundry supplying the typeface software. Adobe can convert only printer licenses issued from Adobe into computer licenses for its customers.

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Can a customer count a service bureau or other outside agency as one of the computer licenses?

No. Up to five computers per license are allowed, but the computers must be located at a single location in a single company.

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Do service bureaus adhere to the same CPU agreement?

Service bureaus that already licensed typefaces may elect to continue using their printer-based licenses if they wish, or they may convert them into computer licenses at their discretion. Going forward, Adobe intends to issue computer-based licenses for its products except for the Adobe Font Folio, which will remain a printer-based license.

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Does Adobe permit users to convert from a computer-based license to a printer-based license?

Yes. We recognize that in some cases, a printer license may be preferred by some customers. For instance, a company that purchases an Adobe Font Folio and wishes to add more typefaces may choose to license the additional typefaces through the retail channel and would receive computer-based licenses in those products. This customer may then choose to convert the individual typefaces from computer to printer basis and use them with the Adobe Font Folio in a consistent manner. To obtain a conversion kit, customers may call the number listed at the top of this document.

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What is Adobe's position on users and service bureaus sharing typefaces and why?

Adobe's licensing policy on transporting typeface software with print jobs to service bureaus is unchanged. Customers are allowed to give their typeface files to a service bureau along with a print job IF AND ONLY IF the service bureau already owns a valid license for the typeface. The reason for allowing this to happen is to ensure that the customer's revision of the typeface software is the one used to image the print job. Adobe does revise its typefaces periodically. Customers are not allowed to give typefaces to service bureaus who do not already own valid licenses for the typefaces.

Adobe's position, which is shared by the partners who license typefaces to us, is that our business in typefaces was built by receiving compensation for the typefaces when they are imaged. Owning licenses for the typefaces is an essential part of the cost of doing business as a service bureau. If you image a font, you are obtaining value from a font, and you must obtain a license for that font.

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When is it legal to embed typefaces into documents?

Adobe permits embedding certain typefaces into documents for the purposes of viewing and printing only. Documents with embedded typefaces may not be edited unless those embedded typefaces are licensed to and installed on the computer doing the editing. The reason for this is that editing the file adds value to the file. For this, the customer is obtaining value from the typefaces and is therefore required to have a valid license for the typefaces.

In general, embedding certain typefaces is legal if the typefaces are embedded but cannot be used to edit documents or accessed as typefaces for use in other documents. Printing to a PostScript-language file and embedding typefaces into PDF files are legal ways to embed typefaces. Sending typefaces on floppies along with print jobs is not legal, since they can be installed and used as typefaces in other documents.

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Which typefaces may be embedded if the above rules are followed?

Typefaces in the Adobe Type Library that were created by Adobe, Linotype, ITC, Monotype, Agfa, and Fundicion Tipografica Neufville may be embedded in the file with a document for viewing and printing the document. Adobe is negotiating with all its other type foundries to obtain this permission. Until the contracts with the other type foundries are final, users must contact the company which licensed them their typefaces to determine if embedding is legal.

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Is it legal to print to a file and send the file to a service bureau for printing?

Yes. Customers may send output to a disk file instead of a printer to capture the PostScript-language stream containing the typefaces, and then send this file to a service bureau for printing. Adobe does not recommend this process because the resulting file is not readily editable, so a service bureau may not be able to correct simple problems that may occur. Also, the customer must be certain that the print file is made up according to the exact specifications of the intended output device at the bureau, and this can be difficult.

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Is it legal to embed typefaces into Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files?

Yes. Customers may use the Adobe Acrobat® Distiller to embed most Type 1 typefaces into PDF documents, which may then be viewed or printed on any number of computers. Editing of documents with embedded typefaces is not allowed unless the typefaces are licensed to and installed on the computer performing the editing. See the item above about which typefaces are legal to embed.

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Adobe Illustrator 5.5 for the Macintosh can edit PDF files. Is this legal if the PDF files contain typefaces?

Adobe allows editing of these documents, but the typefaces may not be re-embedded into the edited document or saved with a new file unless the typefaces are installed on the computer performing the editing. Currently, Adobe Illustrator is the only program capable of editing PDF files, and this program will not embed typefaces into PDF files if they are not installed on the computer being used.

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Can a user modify a typeface using font manipulation software such as Macromedia Fontographer (formerly Altys Fontographer)?

Customers are allowed to use font manipulation software to produce "derivatives" of typefaces licensed from Adobe, as long as they use the derivatives in accordance with the same licensing terms that are stated on the packaging for the original Type 1 products. For instance, it is legal to use Fontographer to convert a Type 1 typeface from Adobe into TrueType format for individual usage, but it is strictly illegal to assume ownership of the derivative TrueType typeface and to sell it or give it away. Derivative works are definitely protected under copyright law, and Adobe will pursue its property rights vigorously.

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