This question might be kind of stupid… but I am looking into creating multiple websites featuring a couple different fonts from Typekit and other places.
I was just wondering… if I have a font on my computer that doesn’t say “Non-commercial use only” or something like that can I put it on web without a problem?
Thanks! And ask me if you need any more clarification.
In short, two good rules of thumb:
- Don’t use a font professionally without knowing what the license is.
- Assume a font has a license and go find it.
IANAL. From a legal standpoint, fonts are treated like software when it comes to licensing. That’s why I can’t e-mail you a Helvetica font file, but I can create a line of text with your name on it, outline it, then e-mail you the outlines.
When you talk about ‘a font on your computer,’ are you referring to fonts bundled with the system? If so, Apple or Microsoft either made the fonts themselves or they licensed the fonts from others for use on their system. Just as you shouldn’t lift GarageBand, FreeCell, or an MP3 codec from your computer to use on another system, the same is true with your font files.
If you downloaded from the Internet, it should have come with a license. If you didn’t, it puts you in what I suppose could be a legal gray area. But if HF&J took you to court for using Gotham and your defense argument is “I did a Google search for Gotham and found a free download for it and there was no license that told me I couldn’t use it,” you’re probably going to have a bad day.
That example seems obvious and of course you wouldn’t do that, but that’s the mindset I have when I consider font usage.
It stinks sometimes, because you’ll find some funky little font that does exactly what you want, you try to track the typographer down, and you find it was released on GeoCities ten years ago with a @compuserve.net e-mail address. Yeah, he probably doesn’t care if you use his font commercially, and he might have just been too indifferent to make a proper license file to bundle with his font. But if you want to be sure you’re okay, then you can’t use the font without some kind of permission or license.