My graphic designer has specified Gotham Thin for the font in the iOS app that I'm writing. I googled around and found a site that will sell it to me, and I found some sites that just will let me download it for free.

How do I know if the free site is legitimate or not? I don't want to be a pirate but I don't want to pay if I don't have to.


In the specific case of Gotham (or just about any other font made by Hoefler and Frere-Jones with the exception of Hoefler Text and maybe a couple of others), they don't sell through third parties. So, any site that wants to sell it to you for cheap or free is not legit.

In more general terms, it's better to assume that a free font site is guilty until proven innocent. The more respectable free sites (FontSquirrel and DaFont come to mind) tend to include licenses with their fonts; look for those when you download any font. If they're not including a license either on the download page or with the ZIP file, then that should be a red flag.

Check out this list of type vendors and foundries that people on this site like and trust when you look for fonts in the future :)

  • 1
    Also note that you may very well need to purchase a secondary license for embedding within an iOS app.
    – DA01
    Jun 4 '14 at 14:49

I guess the only possible answer is to either:

  • check the originating foundry's site (H&FJ in this case) and buy from them
  • an alternative supplier they link to (not relevant in this case)
  • use well-known suppliers with high reputation (Fontshop, MyFonts etc)

It is unlikely that the exact same font will both be sold and given away free.


It's very rare any font is "free" even more so some of the "free" ones aren't open source meaning you aren't free to use it as you please.

Some are free to download and print with via 1 computer; but the moment you take the font file and embed it in software, hardware, put it on a website with @font face or any CSS, or install on a server...you crossed over to commercial use which 99% of the time cost anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of $'s per year. (depending on how widely you are using the font)

Just hit up Monotype they own every font you interact with through any Windows, mac, android or iOS device. (yes MS and Apple DO NOT own the fonts) They pay Monotype to distribute the fonts just like you are looking to do with you product.

Starbucks, NBC, Viacom and a few others have been sued for 6 to 7 figures and lost every time when it comes to not using fonts within license. It'd be like downloading a free copy of angry birds and then changing the name to angry dogs and selling it as your game. You'd have to license their framework because you do not own it.

  • 1
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    – Vicki
    Sep 28 '15 at 15:32

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