As a designer, you’ll find yourself needing to use fonts very often in your work. However, before getting ahead of yourself and installing a font from an online retailer, you might want to go over the licensing agreement that comes with the font first. You don’t want to break any regulations regarding the use of this font, otherwise you might be guilty of copyright infringement. But before we go more in-depth on that I’d like to go over some basic terms.
Let’s start with “font.” Mostly everyone knows what a font is but do they know the technicalities of this word? Maybe, but either way I’ll explain. A font is a computer file or program that informs your printer or display how a character is supposed to be shown. Don’t get this confused with a “typeface,” which is a set of letters, numbers, and other symbols that are used to compose text or other combination of characters. A “copyright” is a form of legal protection provided to those who create original works. So therefore, if you were to used the work of an owner, you would need their permission and/or agree to their terms and conditions.
The U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 is a law that protects the original works of the owner. For example, their music, artwork, or writing. They have the right to reproduce, adapt, distribute, and publicly display their work and can choose to license, sell, or donate these rights to someone else. When you license something to someone, the owner of the copyrighted material lets someone use it by charging a fee and agreeing to the conditions its comes with. Although they do not protect typefaces, U.S. copyright laws protect fonts
Back to the previous point I was getting to in the introduction, breaking any regulations when using an installed font from a website can result in having to pay a fee. So be sure to follow the licensing agreement and understand the limits that comes with it. Also, be careful with installing free fonts from websites as well. Sometimes websites offer these free fonts that were actually illegally copied. If you download pirated fonts and the owner find out, they have the right to charge you and any profit that you made using these fonts (if you actually profited from them).
Hopefully this blog helps you avoid ignorantly installing fonts and then needing to pay a large sum of money for accidentally using a stolen one!