I'd like to use an Apache licensed font in a PDF I'm generating for a press. The printers (reasonably) require full embedding. The PDF doesn't go anywhere other than the printers.

As I read Apache 2.0, there are certain things which I do with Apache licensed IP which would require the distribution to include the Apache license. Attribution is fine, I can stick that in the colophon, but I'm not willing to include a full version of a software license in print in a non-technical book just for a font (I would use another font instead).

Does Apache 2.0 require such inclusion when used for fonts? An alternative would be to embed it in some non-printable place within the PDF, should such a place exist. Or maybe no such inclusion is required at all?

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    Nearly all licences allow you to embed fonts in PDFs for the purpose of printing without needing to include the whole licence—printers constitute a kind of ‘fair use’. I don't recall ever coming across one in my work that didn't. Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


The Apache license was designed for software and not specifically for fonts so its wording can be a bit ambiguous and ill-fitting with regards to font usage. The requirements for redistribution or modification generally (and practically) apply to the font files themselves though, not any images or physical output you create from those font files.

So you must include a copy of the license when you redistribute the font files themselves (if say, the printer requests you send the actual font files), but that doesn't mean you need to include the license in any images you create using the font or any physical printed work that uses the font (that would be incredibly impractical, on say an A6 flyer).

With regards to embedding the fonts in a print-ready PDF, from a legal standpoint I can't say with any certainty, but I personally have never included font license notices for embedded fonts when sending off a PDF for print. I would imagine that it counts as a 'fair use' (some licenses specifically written for fonts explicitly allow this); in any case, including the notice with your print files is no problem if you're worried.

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