Font Usage and Copyrights

Start searching for fonts online, and you will get thousands of results. Some have to be purchased from established font foundries and software companies; others are free for personal or commercial use. But all fonts are not created equal. Nor does every situation call for a sophisticated font family. Before deciding where to look for fonts, evaluate the project and consider some of the needs. Is it a project for school, or your own practice rather than a professional project you are getting paid for? Is the design for a one-time stand-alone project, or is it the beginning of a series of work that will need to be expanded on in the future? How about the cost and the quantity of the production? Is it an offer on a web banner that will only be posted for a couple of weeks, a packaging label that is going to be printed in 20,000 copies, or large costly wrap for a building? Are you creating a new brand identity, or is the project part of an already established brand? You will need to evaluate the needs, and then compare the quality and usability to determine if the cost and quality of a finer font will be worth it – or if a cheaper (or free) version will suffice.

Font copyright, licensing and usage rights

A “font” is a computer file or program (when used digitally) that informs your printer or display how a letter or character is supposed to be shown. A “typeface”, on the other hand, is a set of letters, numbers and other symbols whose forms are designed to be used to compose text or other combination of characters. Generally, copyright law in the U.S. does not protect typefaces, but fonts may be protected as long as it qualifies as computer software or a program. This means that (U.S.) copyright only protects the font software, not the artistic design of the typeface.

For example, a designer may customize a typeface to use it as a logo design. While the typeface itself is not subject to copyright protection, the logo design itself can be protected as an artistic piece.

“When you purchase a commercial font, you are purchasing a license to use the font software. Your rights and obligations are defined in the End User License Agreement (EULA). Those agreements will vary among fonts and among font makers – so read them very carefully to understand what you can and cannot do with the fonts you’re licensing” (Kimbarovsky, 2011).

The right to sub-license a font is governed by the EULA (Links to an external site.). If you have purchased the font yourself you cannot send the client the font file unless the EULA specifically permits you to do so. This can mean that if the client will need to use the font outside of your design, they will be required to purchase their own license to use it. If the client pays for the font, they own the usage rights and you will not retain those after the project is over.

Most logo designers that are using their own font library avoid potential problems with font licensing by converting their logotype to outlines (using Adobe Illustrator for example) and sending the client a vectorized outline of the logo (but not the font file). This also ensures that anyone who is sent the logo for reproduction will not have problems with the usage rights.

Each font you download and install on your computer will include a file that will hold all the EULA information and usage rights for that font. These can vary greatly from font to font and are established by the designer of the font. You will have to look up this file to know all the specific usage details for that specific font.

Reference:

Kimbarovsky, R. (2011, March 23). The Law on Fonts and Typefaces: Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved July 18, 2017, from https://blog.crowdspring.com/2011/03/font-law-licensing/ (Links to an external site.)

PROMPT
For this week’s discussion, start with picturing the following scenario: You have been commissioned to create a poster for a Music Festival fundraiser for a community garden. Your client has purchased the font family, ITC Novarese https://www.fonts.com/font/itc/itc-novarese (Links to an external site.), that they use on all of their branded material but they are open for you to use an additional more unique or decorative font that will work well with the font provided, however, the client does not have a budget to purchase another font.

Look at the “client’s font” and its copyright restrictions then find a font not already on your system that you would want to use on the poster. Make sure that the font you choose works well with the font your client requires you to use. Once you have determined this font, take a screenshot of it and embed it in your initial post. Also, include a link to the font then address the following:

On the “client’s font”:

After reading the “client’s font” copyright info, how would you acquire this font if you did not already own it? Explain your reasoning for your approach.
Things to consider: Can he “give” it to you to use since it’s for his project? Are there any circumstances where you wouldn’t have to purchase it yourself?
Would the conditions of the usage terms change if it was a pro-bono project (Links to an external site.)? If so, how?
For the additional font you choose for the poster: (embed (Links to an external site.) a screenshot (Links to an external site.) and a link to the font you choose)

When looking for the additional font, what was your strategy of finding a font to adhere to your client’s budget?
What was your thought process (what did you look at on the client’s font) to come up with the best solution for the additional font you would use?
Did you find any restrictions of usage on the “free font” sites you explored? If so, what were they?
What would you do if none of the free fonts you looked at had the quality you are needing but you found a font that you needed to purchase?
Would your decisions be different if it was a pro-bono project? How and why?
For your citation, you might use articles that discuss guidelines for font copyrights and when fonts can be re-distributed to others to use. You can also find articles from experts that explain how certain copyrights can be used.

Your initial and reply posts should work to develop a group understanding of this topic. Challenge each other. Build on each other. Always be respectful but discuss this and figure it out together.

REPLY REQUIREMENTS
Per the Due Dates and Participation Requirements for this course, you must submit 1 main post of 150+ words, 1 citation, and reference, as well as 2 follow-up posts of 50+ words. Responses can be addressed to both your initial thread and other threads but must be your own words (no copy and paste), each reply unique (no repeating something you already said), and substantial in nature. Remember that part of the discussion grade is submitting on time (20%) and using proper grammar, spelling, etc. (20% per post).

Remember that part of the discussion grade is submitting on time and using proper grammar, spelling, etc. You’re training to be a professional—write like it.

First reply:

Cory Goetz
When looking for the additional fonts I found three different fonts that I would try to pull the customer towards that would more likely pull the audience towards what they are going to purchase. The fonts that I found best would be Franklin Gothic. what was your strategy of finding a font to adhere to your client’s budget? My strategy that I used to best find the fonts that I would try to get my client to use on their music festival fundraiser would be pitch him different fundraiser ideas with the different fonts on each poster. What was your thought process (what did you look at on the client’s font) to come up with the best solution for the additional font you would use? My thought process on finding the best solution to the additional fonts that I would use to make their fundraiser posters was going in to Microsoft Word and go through the fonts with major groups and fine the best 4 out of the big group selection. Did you find any restrictions of usage on the “free font” sites you explored? If so, what were they? I did not find any restrictions on the fonts that I chose because they came with the software that goes with any Microsoft softwares that are downloaded on to the device you are using to make the posters. What would you do if none of the free fonts you looked at had the quality you are needing but you found a font that you needed to purchase? If I would be stuck and not able to find a font on any software that I had already downloaded and I had to purchase them I would do such an intense research for the best font if I was going to purchase any font to better my chances with making my client happy. Would your decisions be different if it was a pro-bono project? How and why? I do not believe that my decision would be changed if I had to do this project pro-bono, Because it would help my chances to possibly make a good job listing for the current client to throw the word out to push my knowledge and my good work and get a better cliental listing for future jobs that some might want to pay for my work.

References

Microsoft Word

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/typography/fonts/…

Second reply:

Jordan Abel
Being able to use this font that belongs to the client would be legally okay if the client gave the font solely to the designer and destroyed and copies other than that given to the designer and the designer accepted the terms of use (Fonts.com, n.d.). The conditions of the usage would not change if it was a pro-bono job, if the software was lent to the designer to use for the project or a copy given it would be illegal. Unless it was expressed and permitted by the user agreement and under the licensing terms.

Looking for additional fonts to pair with the client’s font was about diving into research about what type of fonts would work well with a glyphic serif font. Since the Novarese font is a serif font, I chose to use a sans serif font that would create a good visual contrast and create hierarchy. I wanted to find a more decorative font that would go with this font family. I found that Fontsquirl.com does offer a large list of free fonts that can be used for commercial use in accordance with their licensing. Most of the restrictions that I found on the “free” sites where the fonts could only be used for personal use. If this was a pro-bono job and not for commercial use, then yes, using a free font would be legal.

One of the free fonts that I really thought could combine well with Novarese is Great Vibes.

link: https://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/great-vibes (Links to an external site.)

Another free font was Dancing Script OT:

Link: https://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/dancing-script-o (Links to an external site.)

My last option would be to buy a font myself and the font I would choose for this case is Banco:

link: https://www.fonts.com/font/linotype/banco (Links to an external site.)

If none of the free fonts looked well with the client’s font, I would simply use a different style of the client’s font. Since the client already bought the entire package, using another style like bold or italic style would be useful as well.

References:

Fonts.com (n.d.). Font Software End User License Agreement. Retrieved https://www.fonts.com/font/itc/itc-novarese/licenses (Links to an external site.)

Webtype.com (n.d.). Web Fonts and the Law. Retrieved https://www.webtype.com/info/articles/fonts-and-the-law/ (Links to an external site.)

Sample Solution

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