That Free Font May Not Be Licensed
You googled for a font, it looks like it is exactly what you need. You download it from a website you found it from and install. The website doesn’t mention anything about restrictions and licensing so it must be okay to use, right?
Unfortunately many of these free font collection websites have little to no license verification and some even accept uploads from users. They may scan for malware, etc, but even then there is no guarantee.
Find Out If You Can Use the Font
Staying on the right side of copyright requires just a little homework. If the license isn’t displayed including the name of the font creator (or foundry) and the usage terms, this is a red flag. It is up to you to verify it truly is licensed to use commercially.
Here are some steps to help you find if your font is available to use.
- Find the name of the artist of the font or foundry (font companies are foundries). Find the artist or foundry website, licensing usage for their fonts are usually stated in the End-User License Agreement (EULA).
- Most free fonts are only for personal usage. In order for a font artist to gain exposure they will release a font publicly. Many of these are not licensed for commercial use.
- Check established websites like fonts.com, myfonts.com, or fontshop.com to see if they are for sale. If they are – that free font was pirated.
- Check safe free sites like Google Fonts and Font Squirrel. Their fonts are public domain or display licensing. Font Squirrel provides desktop and web fonts – I highly recommend them.
Fonts from Your Desktop Computer
Typically, commercial fonts have up to 5 users allowed but many lower budget fonts specify just 1 user. Licensing as to the use of the font for artwork, websites, ePubs and software vary. Fortunately most allow for embedding in print artwork. But always check, don’t assume, just because you have it installed doesn’t mean it can be shared elsewhere.
My Fav Places to Find Fonts
I prefer to stay on the safe side of licensing and more importantly, using really good quality fonts. Sifting through public domain font sites can be a bit of a crap shoot. Sure there are some great ones, but there are some fonts that shouldn’t have made the grade.
Most individual fonts cost about $29 and are terribly cheap, so this is not the area to get all price conscious.
- TypeKit. For $50 a year (the full portfolio) you get access to their quality list of fonts for websites.
- FontSpring. Individually purchase fonts from $15 – $70 (or in packages). Beautiful listings of web fonts, I go there frequently for inspiration when I need to find just the right font.
- MyFonts. Large resource of desktop and web fonts with category tags are a big help.
Public Domain or Free:
- FontSquirrel. Commercial usage terms are spelled out clearly. They have web fonts and desktop fonts. Nice list of their most popular fonts.
- The League of Moveable Type. Just a few displayed but they are good ones you will probably recognize.
- Google Fonts. Created for making fonts available for everyone. There are good ones here – these are just web fonts. Most themes you get will be using Google Fonts due to the friendly licensing.