What Is a Font License? (And Do I Need One?)

What Is a Font License? (And Do I Need One?)

Almost each design venture you encounter will embody sort of some variety. And it’s very seemingly that that sort will begin as a font on a pc, except you create it your self. With utilizing particular pc fonts, come some very particular guidelines concerning their use, which might differ by venture.

So what’s a font license? Do you want one? And the place can you discover the instruments and sources that you must be sure you are utilizing fonts correctly?

Lucky for you, we’ve got a primer. (And the photographs on this put up embody fonts you could license to make use of in your tasks.)

What is a Font License?

font license
font license

A font license grants the proprietor the best to make use of a typeface in a particular method as outlined within the license. (Note that on this article we’re going to use the phrases “font” and “typeface” relatively interchangeably.) Every typeface comes with a license of some type – even these free on-line typefaces.

The massive caveat about font licenses is that each sort home or designer has the best to create a license of any sort.

So it’s crucial that as a designer you verify the precise license for any typeface you employ commercially earlier than you employ it. You can discover these guidelines within the End-User License Agreement that’s “attached” to each font you obtain or purchase. (And should you don’t have one, you’ll find it with a fast on-line search.)

Types of Font Licenses

Fonts are technically thought-about bits of pc software program, and identical to another software program you aren’t supposed to put in or use it with out a license. This definition is starting to evolve and primarily applies to desktop fonts; net fonts have a algorithm which might be considerably totally different.

Trademarks, design patents or copyrights typically legally shield typefaces, fonts and their designers. This is why acquiring the right license is so vital. It ensures that the best particular person (or firm) is compensated for his or her work.

Desktop and Print Licensing

A desktop or print font license is a primary, customary font license that applies to a lot of the typefaces that come in your pc or with another software program you put in. This license permits you to use the font in your pc and use it to make static photos, equivalent to designing one thing for print. This applies to every thing from posters to t-shirts to enterprise playing cards to mugs.

NetFonts and Licensing

A webfont is a font that’s used on-line. What makes it totally different is that the font is formatted in order that browsers can see and render it precisely. This is usually known as a dynamic font, as a result of the creator and consumer will need to have the font to see it correctly.

These fonts are sometimes embedded within the design venture to make sure this works correctly. Fonts may be embedded by the designer (however most licenses don’t permit for this), whereas others embody hosted embedding (that is how most webfont companies work).

Open-Source Licensing

Open-source fonts are among the many best choice for digital designers. Open-source fonts are free to acquire, free to make use of and free to share. Often open-source fonts include the ever-increasingly customary Open Font License by SIL International, a global language skilled. The OFL is “a free, libre and open source license specifically designed for fonts and related software based on our experience in font design and linguistic software engineering.”

This license permits for a lot of issues that others don’t. It may be distributed and it may be modified. The main guidelines for us are that you don’t promote and OFL typeface and provides correct credit score to be used.

Google Fonts, for instance, the location and font service utilized by a big variety of designers for the online makes use of one of these font license. From Google:

“All of the fonts are Open Source. This means that you are free to share your favorites with friends and colleagues. You can even customize them for your own use, or collaborate with the original designer to improve them. And you can use them in every way you want, privately or commercially — in print, on your computer, or in your websites.”

Commercial Licenses

Almost all the above licenses apply to private use. Commercial use for any typeface is a complete different matter and must be dealt with with care; even a typeface labeled as “free download” might not at all times be free if used commercially.

Make positive to verify the EULA rigorously for every typeface so that you don’t slip up.

When engaged on tasks for shoppers, for instance, the commonest follow is for the designer to make use of and work with fonts which might be licensed by the corporate. This consists of typefaces used for a firm’s brand and people outlined within the firm’s model information. The factor designers need to watch out with is use – these fonts can’t be used for different shoppers except they too personal a license for them.

If you, the designer, are utilizing a font from your personal assortment for a shopper, it’s seemingly that you just want a number of font licenses. One for private use, and one for the shopper. Make positive to verify the EULA rigorously for every typeface so that you don’t slip up.

Do I Need a Font License

font license

The easy reply is sure. When unsure a designer ought to at all times assume that a license is critical. And then verify the precise license of the typeface you might be utilizing and for the way you might be utilizing it. Following this routine might be sufficient to maintain you from encountering any font drama.

For Personal Projects

A desktop license is usually sufficient for something you might be doing in your pc that isn’t for a shopper. Likely, you’ll have a good assortment of typefaces that come put in with software program or from downloads that you just like and may carry you thru most private tasks.

For Client Projects

When it involves working for another person, the best choice is to work with fonts that they shopper has licenses for. Before utilizing any font for a industrial venture or use, make certain it’s okay.

Commercial tasks typically require prolonged licenses and even a few of these font freebies require cost to be used commercially. When doing a venture for rent, or for a shopper (and even your self) that will probably be used for financial acquire, make certain to learn each single line of wonderful print first.

For Digital Projects

Digital tasks typically require fonts that work in a variety of environments, making use of a subscription font service notably interesting. This permits you to purchase a plan of fonts that you should use in a variety of tasks for one worth with all the right licensing included. Adobe’s Typekit is a widespread possibility that has a number of plan ranges (together with a small free collection of typefaces.) Google Fonts are one other very talked-about possibility for digital tasks.

Getting Your Fonts in Order

The most typical methods embody shopping for or downloading a typeface proper from a sort vendor, as a a part of a massive software program package deal, downloading a typeface from a designer or web site or subscribing to a web-based sort service.

Now that you just perceive why you want font licenses, how will you acquire them? The most typical methods embody shopping for or downloading a typeface proper from a sort vendor, as a a part of a massive software program package deal (such because the fonts that include the Adobe Suite), downloading a typeface from a designer or web site or subscribing to a web-based sort service.

But watch out of this rule that usually applies to font licenses: “The most basic legal rule of font copyright is that unless the license specifically allows it, fonts cannot be shared among multiple computers, even if they are all owned by the same person or corporation, and fonts cannot be given away to others,” in keeping with SIL International. When there’s any query about a license or utilization, confer with the EULA or contact the seller instantly.

Font Licensing Resources

Here are a few extra sources that can assist you navigate the world of font licenses.


The most vital issues to know about font licenses are that you just seemingly want some type of font license for a lot of the work you can be doing and never all font licenses are the identical. Commonly, they differ by the creator of the font and whether or not you might be utilizing a typeface for private or industrial use. Check every license rigorously based mostly on how you can be utilizing it.

The finest recommendation is to consider utilization each single time you begin a venture. Make positive every typeface is licensed for the work you might be doing and private and industrial licenses are saved separate. If you might be doing a lot of shopper work, you would possibly even wish to spend money on software program to maintain observe of all of it.

Font Collections

This is our sequence of gorgeous, inspiring collections of fonts and typefaces. These articles function daring poster fonts, ornamental scripts, and every thing in-between! Find the right font in your subsequent design venture with certainly one of these collections.

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