In discussions both on and offline, Graphic Designer's often have the question of what to do with and how to use fonts that they have been given.
The answer to all questions is: check the EULA for the typeface(s)/fonts in question. Foundries’ EULAs are not very standardized, and each foundry dis/allows different things.
A few questions that have come up regularly are:
1) Is it legal and within a graphic designer's rights to send fonts to the printer when the job goes to press?
Answer: Check the EULA. Some foundries allow Graphic Designer's to send fonts to teh printer exclusively for the printing of a finished product, other foundries do not. There are also some foundries which allow the outlining of fonts to vector art, while others do not. Some will allow embedding in PDF artwork, some will not, etc. In the end, you need to read the EULA, and keep a database of the EULA and what is allowed with that particularl font from the foundry. Often times Foundries will be consistent in the EULA's of their fonts and what applies to one font will apply to all fonts from that Foundry. Lastly, in regards to this specific question, very few foundries allow Graphic Designers to send base font files to the printer.
2) Is it legal to use fonts which a client sends a graphic designer for a job that a previous studio created for that particular client?
Answer: Check with the client and/or the foundry. The client may have arranged a license which allows them to sub-license the fonts to their vendors for specific uses or projects. (These sub-licenses are rarely made clear to the vendors.) Moreover, it will depend often on who purchased the license to the font or typeface. The EULA should be specific about what and who owns the license and how applicable that license is.
Most of the time, clients do not license for the typeface or font to be used by daughter companies or outside contractors. Not to mention, foundries are looking for their fonts, and be prepared to have legal access to those fonts. If you ask the client and do not know 1. what you are asking, or 2. do not know the answer, check with the foundry. Nine times out of ten they have probably not licensed it accordingly.
3) If a designer buys a font to use for a particular client does that client have the right to use the font?
Answer: Check the EULA. Most licensing arrangements will be “site-specific” or “company-specific”. Most foundries will ask either that the client licenses the typeface(s) separately, or if the designer wishes to send the typeface(s) to her client, that the designer has licensed the fonts in such a way that all end users are covered. If a Graphic Designer or firm licensed a font to use on a client’s project the best thing you could do is have the client also license the font so they can use it if need be. There are some foundries which have EULAs that allow for transferring of the license. If there are no provisions for the transferring of the license, either the client will have to purchase a license for them, or you will have to Transfer the license to the client (with the Foundries permission), and delete the source file from your files.
4) If a designer buys a font to use for a particular client does the designer have the right to use the font for a different client?
Answer: Check the EULA. It is a general practice that if a designer licenses a retail typeface, the use of that typeface is not restricted to specific clients or projects, and will not expire. If the typeface is a custom or commissioned product, there will almost certainly be stipulations about use, which the designer, the foundry, and the client should already be aware of. Therefore, as a general matter, a Designer should be able to use a licensed font as often as the designer chooses, unless other situations or specifications apply.
5) How do most design studios manage their font licenses?
Answer: This is a question that has no universal answer. As a technology and IP attorney, I keep a list of EULA's for my clients in a linked file associated database. That is fancy lagnaug for a database. I make notes of specific differences in each Foundries EULA's so my clients have easy access and quick manipulation of whatever information they need. If you set it up properly, or you are using an attorney regularly, they should know, or have a running list of EULA's and the files associated with them. It is also nice to have a backup copy in case your server's crash.