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Let's say I imported a font that is for personal use only. I then type in the company name in that particular font and screencapture it. I then proceed to Illustrator and image trace my screencapture to create a SVG file out of it.

Is this legal or illegal?

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Personal use means non-commercial... which means a "logo" would most likely be outside the realm of personal use and a possible violation of licensing. There's no way to be certain without reading the actual license.

Scanning, screencaps, tracing, reformatting, etc., something does not change copyrights. Thinking that altering something by X% and you're "okay" is a complete myth. There's no such leeway. Only altering something so it is unrecognizable is okay... in which case, why bother trying to obfuscate the original item at all?

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Probably still illegal, but even if auto tracing a raster version, you are unlikely to get the exact same letter shapes as the original font. And then, who's going to believe you had the font, but honest to god, you didn't use it, just somehow made it look similar. Why bother. There's a million free fonts out there. And another million 10$ fonts. See this question.

  • "Hand trace" is not the same as Illustrator's "image trace," and there's a myriad good reasons people often use purchased typefaces instead of free ones. – BESW Nov 20 '17 at 22:34
  • Updated my answer slightly. Still valid, just missed the part where the OP wanted to auto trace the image. – Lucian Nov 21 '17 at 6:10
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    IDK why this answer was downvoted. It still has a valid point. Upvoted to counter that useless down. – Alin Nov 21 '17 at 7:18

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