Quite a few of you, that’s who!
They’re font licenses, also known as the End User License Agreement (shortened to EULA). These documents cover what you can and cannot do with the fonts that you licensed. While typeface designs cannot specifically be copyrighted in the USA, the software that’s used to make them display properly on your computer can. This is why fonts are are pretty much licensed like other pieces of software.
We recently surveyed a number of people who were interested in server-based font management, and asked them the following question:
When you purchase a font, do you read the font license?
I was happy to see that almost half of our group actually read them. Since the survey was of people who are specifically interested in managing their font collection using a server, I was happy to see these results. That being said, I would like it to still be even higher.
Many type foundries (those who create and sell fonts) have worked to make their EULAs simpler and easier to understand. That being said, there are still many conditions where you may need to purchase an extended or modified license to use a font.
Some of the things that may or may not be permitted, or require you to purchase an extended license include:
- Embedding into a PDF
- Embedding into an distributable application – “there’s a font for that!”
- Embedding into an eBook
- Utilizing a single character or glyph prominently in a logo design
- Selling a product that consists primarily of featuring the font (such as a mug with an inscription, a shirt with a phrase on it, or magnetic letters for a fridge)
- Converting a font from one format to another
- Modifying the font in a font editor
- Using a font as a web font
These conditions vary by foundry. First step is to definitely read the EULA that came with your font. Can’t find it? Check with the foundry. While foundries vary in size, many of them aren’t very large, and you may be communicating directly with the creator of your favorite fonts.
So, if you’re already on top of this, good job!
If you’re “less than confident” about your licenses, I encourage you to get started today.
And, once you’re started down the right path, check out Universal Type Server to help you keep track your fonts and licenses.