Are those your fonts?

Question. Is it okay if I send my fonts to our translators in Montréal? Or is there a way for them to access the fonts on my machines remotely?

Answer. A couple of years ago I wrote an article covering the licensing of software. When it comes to licensed software people often are under the misconception that they have bought their software. In fact, what they have done when they purchased a software title is simply licensed the use of that software. Normally the license is intended for one user on one machine. Fonts although they are small are often overlooked yet they are copyrighted software titles.

So the simple answer is, “No” you cannot share your fonts with your coworkers and friends. Fonts are the creative works made by type foundries; in the past these same type foundries would have made wood type and metal type. They once dealt with physical properties and now they deal with software or intellectual properties.

As with any software you should check the end-user license agreement, EULA, as they can often vary dramatically. As a rule of thumb; these are the intellectual properties you should assume that you cannot copy and distribute fonts. Another misconception is that fonts that are bundled with applications are free – they are licensed to be bundled. If you’re the owner of the company you should beware that you are responsible for the actions of your employees.

The business software alliance is a group that oversees infractions in software licensing. According to the BSA, if you’re not sure about font compliance you should contact the font vendor. The BSA doesn’t pursue infractions. They rely on end users reporting unlicensed software use. Surprisingly some fonts are not even allowed to be embedded in a document while others are not even allowed to be used in static images.

I took part in a webcast sponsored by Extensis on font compliance. Here are some recent examples they shared with us. NBC was sued by font Bureau for $2 million for the improper use of their fonts on logos for popular television shows. The Hadopi logo was also found to contain an improperly licensed font. Hadopi is the French government’s anti-piracy organization. Microsoft was sued for bundling Chinese fonts into their operating system.

Adobe’s Fonts are licensed per computer. Their terms state that you can give someone else your version of your font as long as they already own the same title. Adobe does allow fonts to be embedded into documents are going to be edited. Some other font foundries don’t allow this flexibility in fact they don’t allow unlicensed fonts to be hosted on a website.

Mono type, the biggest font vender owners of ITC and Linotype, also allow only allows policy licensed per workstation. They allow you to distribute a version, as above. but they restrict fonts to be in documents to be viewed and printed only. So you can embed the fonts in PDF and allow someone else to edit them. They also have additional licensing for use in a commercial PDF, you can also extend to a multiuse license as well as Web server and embedded applications.

Emigre is even more restrictive. They don’t allow any modification. They require an additional fees for use in PDF, Flash, and embedding in EPS files. They will allow embedding only if all users have an existing license. They do have a lot of extra licenses, site licenses and server bureau licenses etc.

So what can you do: You can own all your font licenses. You can ignore the problem. You can have your partners acknowledge that they have the rights to use the fonts. You can refrain from using fonts that don’t allow embedding. And you probably should read the EULA.

There are several tools to help you manage your fonts. For instance expenses makes a product called Universal Type Server. With the UTS you can limit the user to have access to fonts. You can control who can share the fonts. And you can control who can add the fonts. You can also you can also have the server report on your company’s font compliance. At the end of the day there are no “font police” – all it requires is that someone makes an innocent phone call.

Mac OS X fonts

Q I often seem to have problems getting fonts to load with Suitcase. Either I have to restart Illustrator or I get warnings of font conflicts when the offending font is not open.What’s going on?

A. This is a common query with users on MacOS X. Fonts continue to be problematic whether you’re using Suitcase XI or Font Book. However, this gives me an opportunity to explain some preventive maintenance that you should perform regularly.

To begin with you should “fix permissions” on your Mac on a regular basis (once a month or so.) To do this go to “/Applications/Utilities/” and open Disk Utility. You will see you hard drive listed on the left. Select it by clicking on it. Then under the “First Aid” tab click on “Repair Permissions”. You’ll often find something that needs to be repaired as permissions get altered by software installers and some system updates.

Next, this is the Font part, you should search your Mac for “Adobefnt.lst” files. These are font caches created by Adobe applications – you can safely send these to the trash because they are regenerated as required by the Adobe apps (Illustrator, InDesign and PhotoShop). If you’re a regular Adobe app user you’ll find many of these.

Another area that requires serious attention are font caches. The Mac caches fonts when they are loaded to make subsequent loads faster. When a font is opened, the complex file is examined and the results are stored in a cache file. From time to time these caches can get corrupt and cause font display problems and incorrectly report conflicts.

The easiest way to clean these up is to download “Font Finagler” from “” (formally know as Font Cache Cleaner). Font Finagler will locate all of the font caches on your Mac and delete them. When it’s finished you’ll reboot your Mac and start with a clean slate. The next time you load the font(s) the information will be stored in a font cache.
Performing these steps, repair permissions, remove font lists and caches on a regular basis should keep your Mac running smoothly.

Font is a four letter word

Nothing can bring Quark Xpress to it’s knees quite like a corrupt font. In fact, the whole operating system can suffer. With the introduction of Mac OSX, and it’s ability to use multiple font formats the future looked bright. Missing fonts can still be a headache but at least now when a customer sends a PC TrueType font you can use it. A corrupt fonts can wreak havoc over your Macintosh, which entitles us to say that, “Font is a four-letter word.”

MacOS X seemingly has added another level of complexity to the management of fonts. Fonts can be stored in several locations and are activated in a particular order creating confusion for the average user. Certain fonts are required by the operation system, as well as Apple own applications, so removing them or deactivating them can lead to trouble.

Recently, I was called in to investigate a case where Mail would work intermittently. The user would open the application but the Message Viewer window would not open. Initially, it looked like corrupt Mail preferences. We moved the preferences to the desktop, launched the Mail application but the program still didn’t work.
If you’re having a problem with an application, one of the first things you can do is recreate the application’s preference file. Another trick is to create a second user account, then log in with that second account and test the applications. Nine times out of ten, the application is fine – the problem is the user’s preferences file(s).

You’ll find your application’s preferences in the Preferences folder under your own home folder. (Eg /Users/[yourlogin]/Library/Prefernces). Look for a file ending with “.plist”, with a similar name as your application. In the case of Mail – you would look for “”. Note: If you delete this file you would be prompted to recreate your mail account login. The other common problem with Apple’s own applications occurs if you move them from the Applications folder. Restore the program to its original location and it may behave.

Returning to the Mail problem, I discovered many other Apple programs were misbehaving. Safari, System Preferences, Mail and even Font Book wouldn’t open properly. In most cases we had to “force quit” the applications. This user was using Font Book to manage her fonts.

Apple has included Font Book as a method for dealing with fonts. It has been improved for the latest system, MacOS 10.4 as Font Book 2. While it enables users to create font sets and has a utility for resolving font conflicts, it is still not as flexible as Third Party applications such as Extensis Suitcase, Font Reserve (and FontAgent Pro) for managing fonts, because they don’t interfere with the operating system – when adding fonts. There are also shareware tools such as FontFinagler for fixing font issues. Most users may deal with a few fonts in their daily workflow, but if you’re a publishing professional, then you know you need a robust font management tool – that can deal with hundreds of fonts and font versions.

In MacOS X, there are several locations for fonts to be installed. The first location belongs to the System “/System/Library/Fonts”. These fonts are best left alone, they’re always active and some are absolutely required by the system.

The second location are the Library fonts “/Library/Fonts”. The third location is the User fonts, “/Users/[yourlogin]/Library/Fonts”. Each user has his own fonts under his home folder. The fourth location is the Classic fonts, “/System Folder/Fonts”. These fonts are available to MacOS X applications even if Classic is not running.

The last two locations are Network fonts and Application fonts. Network fonts are located on a MacOS X Server. Application fonts are stored the Library under Application Support.

If you have duplicate fonts installed, you should be aware of how you Mac deals with them. If the system finds duplicate fonts, then it follows a specific order to activate them. First, it will look in the Application’s own font folder. Second, it will look in the User’s font folder. Third, it will look in the local Library font folder, then Network, System, and Classic font folders.

To resolve the mystery of the applications that wouldn’t open we had to delete Font Book’s preferences. The two main culprits are “” and “”. Deleting these to files and rebooting the Mac, restored the functionality to the Mail (and other) applications. Then we were left with the task of figuring out which font was corrupt.

Occasionally a font may appear garbled. If that’s the case then there may be a problem with your font caches. Here you’ll need to remove the following files from “/System/Library/Caches”,, and fontTablesAnnex. You’ll need to be an administrator to do this. Remove the “” from the “/Library/Caches” folder, and also remove the “” from your own Preferences. Once you’ve done this, restart your Mac.