Dealing with typefaces for design projects
June 14, 2015 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Although I studied graphic design in university, I never really learned how to deal with the business side of things. I understand there are plenty of resources for how to create a quote or an invoice, but I want to learn how to deal with the little nuts and bolts involved in the project, namely typefaces.

How does that work? Can copyright law extend to other countries? If I change a font slightly, would it still be subject to copyright law? What kind of licenses should I purchase for corporate identity projects?
posted by cyrusw8 to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked at how licenses fonts? Usually there's a price per work station. There are different scales of prices for using fonts on the web, and different ones again if you intend to incorporate a font into an app or game.

I bought a single font last year to use for a logo, and communicated directly with the designer. He didn't have any problem with my customizing it for the logo but he said he would want a larger payment if I intended to trademark the logo (which I did not).

You might be interested in the Wikipedia article on intellectual property protection of typefaces.
posted by zadcat at 8:29 PM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

When I've had to buy a font for use with a client, I charge them the price of the font, keep it, and claim it as a business expense. I don't often buy fonts, as the most common ones work well in most situations.

Occasionally a client will supply a font for use on their product. I use it for their work only and then uninstall it so I don't accidentally use it again, as I don't have rights to do so.
posted by b33j at 2:43 AM on June 15, 2015

If I change a font slightly, would it still be subject to copyright law?

What do you mean by "change a font slightly"? "Font" refers to the entire typeface, including alternate glyphs, hints, kerning, etc. If you mean, using specialized software (like Fontographer) to take apart an entire font and alter every letter, glyph, etc. then, yeah, that would run afoul of copyright. Especially if you, then, distribute the thing to others.

If, though, you're talking about altering a couple of letters (in Illustrator, for instance) to make them look a certain way in, for instance, a logo, then, no, that's not a problem.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:53 AM on June 15, 2015

You need a font license that allows you to do whatever you wish to do.
If the license is unclear or if you need a different licence than what is available, ask the supplier of the font.
posted by kidbritish at 7:37 AM on June 15, 2015

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