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BSA guide helps businesses understand font copyright

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The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has launched an international best practice guide for managing font assets, aimed at educating businesses on the licensing implications of using different typefaces.

Many companies are unaware that font designs and font software are classed as intellectual property (IP); the guide intends to change the mindset around how fonts are perceived and managed.
The BSA's Font Guide, which can be found at www.bsa.org, provides a detailed view of typography, from its history (from cave paintings to the printed press), to its impact on company brand identity and top tips for font management. The guide explains that many fonts require users to possess appropriate licenses, as with most software.
Whether intended or not, unlicensed fonts put businesses in breach of copyright. Piracy carries serious penalties, including the possibility of: withdrawal of a company's illegitimate product line, damage to the company brand and a costly settlement in court.
The BSA also announces today that Dutch publishing company, Aristo Uitgeverij, had its premises searched by the BSA for unlicensed software and is now in the process of legalising its font library. The search revealed that over 5 000 fonts, to the value of over £35 000.00, were found on its computers, but the company produced only one license for one font library.
The BSA has taken into consideration both the current owners' willingness to address and comply with the situation as well as evidence to suggest that they inherited some illegal fonts unwittingly, but Aristo Uitgeverij still faces damages plus legal costs.
To help companies protect themselves from such situations and maintain an ethical code of conduct, the BSA, in close collaboration with its members who specialise in fonts, such as Monotype Imaging and Adobe, has developed guidelines for best practice. The guide will be available in nine languages to ensure its content is accessible to businesses across the globe. Given the importance of the typeface to a business brand and identity, every business should consider how it acquires and manages its fonts.
Julian Swan, compliance marketing director: EMEA at BSA: "In our experience, companies generally are not being underhand when they fail to license their fonts. Ignorance or poor font management are often the reasons why many businesses fall foul of the law. However, there are consequences. Failing to pay for fonts, like any other kind of software, deprives those that own the Intellectual Property (IP) rights of valuable revenue streams. It also undermines the new media industry, in which the development of typefaces plays a crucial role."