What is the right way to use fonts in design projects?
February 18, 2015 9:01 PM   Subscribe

I was looking for a comprehensive resource that would explain the correct way of using a designer typeface in a project (for a small company or even a multi-national one). How do we buy it, what kind of usage rights can we obtain, how would a typeface designer even know that one of their fonts was illegally used, ... Basically everything in terms of our rights and the designer rights.
posted by cyrusw8 to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
>how would a typeface designer even know that one of their fonts was illegally used ...

Just talk to the font author before you worry about getting caught and sued, okay?

All the ones I know are pretty happy to sell you a commercial license that allows you to do pretty much anything you want with a typeface, as long as you don't try to claim it as your own and resell it. The cost of a permissive license for a good typeface is small compared to the costs of retaining counsel, and the karma is 'way better.

On the other hand, one of the things that I hope for most for one of my clients, who is a small niche font foundry, is that someone with deep pockets is caught pirating a copyrighted font of theirs.
posted by the Real Dan at 9:38 PM on February 18, 2015

Are you asking about licensing an existing font?
If you're shopping at a place like MyFonts (for example), you can read about the licenses for a given font, and read the license agreement itself before you make a transaction.
Here's the licensing info for Carl Crossgrove's Beorcana Std.
posted by kidbritish at 11:32 PM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

How you buy a font depends on the font you want to buy. Sometimes you can buy it from the font foundry, sometimes from a site like MyFonts or FontSpring.

Usage rights also depend on the font. Before you purchase, you'll be able to read the license for that specific font. Sometimes you can buy levels of use - one for basic use, an upgrade for web-embedding the font, another for a large print run, etc.

As for the designer finding out about illegal use - it will depend on the foundry. Some, like Letterhead Fonts, encrypt the user info into the font itself. This is designed to deter piracy - lower piracy, lower numbers of people using the fonts illegally.

In the case of shareware fonts or those that are licensed for non-commercial use only, you're generally dealing with the designer directly and not a foundry or middleman. In that case, if the designer saw their font in use somewhere, they'd check their records to see if it had been sold to that organization, probably request proof of licensure (in case the font was licensed by a third-party designer), and then proceed however their legal counsel directed.

tl;dr - your rights and the rights of the designer will be laid out in the font license, which will be different for every font.
posted by okayokayigive at 5:52 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older Finding/decorating a festive and warm...   |   How to Maximize the Chances of a Job with Work... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.