As I understand it, if I create a font and give you a copy, that doesn't give you the right to publish a billboard/flyer/book/etc using my font. There is an additional license required. Many fonts provide that license, but also many don't, including fonts included with popular software.

How do you ensure you aren't violating a font artist/foundry's rights when using their fonts?

EDIT: Answers relevant to US law are preferred. Information about other countries would not be unhelpful, though.

  • 1
    Please state the jurisdiction you're asking about. In the UK, you don't need that "additional licence" to use a font: the Copyright Designs & Patents Act specifically and explicitly allows it. Dec 16, 2013 at 16:18

2 Answers 2


If doing commercial work, you purchase commercial licenses. Commercial licenses specifically allow reproduction of work with the font/typeface (otherwise the fonts would be useless to many).

Most fonts I've seen who do not have a commercial and non-commercial license allow for all use. I don't think I've ever seen a font offered that has strict non0commercial use clauses in its license unless a separate commercial license is available.

It is far less common to find a particular font that has restricted use unless it's a pay-to-use font. In those cases, I'd imagine it's rare users doing non-commercial work ever actually want to pay for a font. But I'm speculating.

Here's a thought though... I don't know how on earth the commercial use of a font which violates the license could be tracked down in order to seek compensation. There are literally billions of pieces printed every single day. I'm honest and purchase commercial licenses for all my fonts (prices are pretty much the same in most cases), but I'd hazard a guess that if the price were dramatically different for a commercial license compared to a non-commercial use license, many may not bother with that specific license since the chances of any repercussions being felt due to improper use are probably worse than playing the lottery. To this end, in my experience it is not use which is restricted in most cases but rather "seats" since you can track how many seats are using software.

As for embedding and sharing, those are often separate restrictions (sharing always, embedding occasionally). Most commercial license fonts allow embedding. Many non-commercial license use fonts do not restrict commercial use but may restrict embedding.


I would imagine that you can't give away a font to a client unless you have purchased licenses for his or her machine.

You could however embed the typeface in a PDF/share an artwork file with the outlines converted.

  • The latter case, and non-electronic publication, are my concern. People have been sued for using unlicensed fonts on printed publications.
    – Sparr
    Dec 16, 2013 at 17:41

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