Small businesses pirate hundreds of commercial fonts

UK businesses, in particular smaller organisations have and use an average of 300 commercial copyrighted fonts that they do not have licences for.

The claim, made by typeface vendor Monotype Imaging, has significant legal implications for companies already facing more stringent enforcement of software licensing from application vendors.

Julie Strawson, Monotype's European marketing director, told the podcast that companies which fail to ensure that they have the necessary licenses leave themselves open to legal action.

Monotype, together with several other font foundries, is a member of the Business Software Alliance, which co-ordinates investigations of unauthorised software use. Strawson said that the foundries are particularly keen to clamp down on the distribution of fonts to repro houses and printers. Typically this occurs when the fonts required to pre-press and print a job are included with the page layout file.

'We're very keen to try and stop that illegal redistribution of fonts,' she said. 'It's very inexpensive when you consider that they are a necessary tool for the printer to produce his product and the printer is making a profit on that product.'

Strawson also said that businesses that buy sufficient licences to cover all their employees could save money by reducing the number of licences. She said that by carrying out a software audit, companies can accurately measure the number of licences they require, since in many cases only a few users need more than the standard set of fonts that are supplied with computers and software. She said one publishing house had saved 25,000.

Monotype's Fontwise application is available for business that wish to carry out a font audit. There is also a free Fontcheck tool that can be used to scan individual machines for installed fonts to help indicate if a full audit is required.