General Question

windex's avatar

Fun Font question about owning Fonts.

Asked by windex (2932points) October 23rd, 2008

…so there are some fonts that we all use (times, helvetica, Impact…) and some that I think are “the suck” like those FAKE fonts that are meant to look like these fonts but have a different but similar name.
The “good/real” fonts are EXPENSIVE and most of the other ones (fake) are Free.

So here is my question, when you get windows/Mac OS/MS Word/Adobe programs/etc. (basically any app) you get some fonts. Like windows comes with some fonts, and some apps come with fonts also.

Does that mean that I have the right to use those fonts, or do I have to Purchase them from…. (, etc.)


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12 Answers

irondavy's avatar

The licenses for those fonts are certainly included with the application, though they may be limited for use only within those applications. That most likely varies from app to app, but I would, for the most part, feel safe using any font that comes with a legally purchased application.

jasonjackson's avatar

There isn’t a blanket answer to this question – if you receive fonts as part of a software package, exactly what you can do with those fonts is dependent on what agreement the software’s creators negotiated with the fonts’ creators.

You also didn’t define “use”, which matters in this case.

Some general rules, though: for fonts you received as part of a software package, you’re obviously allowed to “use” the fonts by displaying your documents using them if you want to. You probably also have received the right to embed some or all of the font in a document you’ve created and distribute to others, so that they will see the document in the font you’ve chosen (e.g. MS Office documents have this functionality, and the fonts you get with Office allow it). You probably don’t have the right to distribute the font files to others directly, i.e. not as part of a document. And you also probably don’t have a right to use the font files outside the context of the program you received them with, if you received them with a program.

Font licensing is byzantine and has a number of special cases.

robmandu's avatar

The Eight Golden Rules of Font Licensing

Kinda basic, really… but not a bad starting place. If you want info overload, try googling “font licensing”.

windex's avatar

I just talked to someone from and and it seems like as long as I don’t distribute/resell the fonts I should be OK (duh.. :P )

btw I can’t believe how freakin EXPENSIVE some fonts are (for NO apparent reason imho)

robmandu's avatar

Creating a font—a decent one anyway—requires skill, talent, a working knowledge of history, an artistic eye, an engineering vision, attention to the most minute of detail, and patience, so much patience.

I don’t like paying for them either. But I’ve seen a little first-hand of what goes into it. And it’s not for the faint of heart. Not if you’re trying for real greatness.

windex's avatar

@rob: “me agrees” but COMON, charging THOUSANDS of dollars for just ONE font pack is not right. Just like charging $800 for Photoshop is BS…

I U n d e r s t a n d that it took A LOT of talented people, a long time to create these apps/fonts etc. but they are selling hundreds of thousands if not millions of copies.

Give us a break
just mho, not trying to put anyone down at all, kudos to all the hard working people
(even though some of them are dead…)

jtvoar16's avatar

Trust me when I say most of these programs are worth every cent you spend, Photoshop is worth MORE then 800$ if you understood the amount of time just to get the color picker to show up and work in the fashion it does, you would know.
I have also delved into the realm of making Fonts and everything robmandu said is so very true.
However I do agree that charging thousands of dollars for A font is dumb, but if you are getting, let’s say a set of 10, full fonts, I can understand, due to the fact that a font is more then just the alphabet. It’s every one of those characters no one ever uses, like Æ and æ or ß or å. If you are using a mac, just open the Character Pallet and you’ll see what I am talking about.
I know I am just restating what everyone else is saying and not trying to criticize you, I just want to make sure anyone that reads this post understands how much actually goes into something like a Font or a Program.

lapilofu's avatar

@windex, I’m not really sure that you do quite understand the amount of effort that goes into constructing typefaces, and how little they actually get bought. I mean, how many people do you know who buy fonts?

Aside from having to be a great designer (and therefore, likely having gone through years and tens of thousands of dollars worth of design school) as jtvoar said, “a font is more than just the alphabet.” It’s all the other characters too, of which there are hundreds—accented characters, characters only used in other languages, common and uncommon ligatures, fractions, variations on letters such as italic swashes—but it’s more than even just that. If the font is any good, it’s also the kerning tables (determining how much space goes between each character pair, which is more important and a more subtle art than you may realize).

And of course, it depends what you mean by font. If you’re just talking about a single style and a single weight, then yeah, that shouldn’t be too expensive. Even Univers, a classic and wonderful typeface can be purchased for $26 per style from Linotype.

But once you throw in italics and bold—that’s two additional complete character sets! There’s not just a button that slants all your letters to make them italic, and if there were, that would be a pretty crappy italic (In fact, we’d just call it oblique. And even a good oblique has to have it’s strokes carefully reweighted…) The same goes for making a bold weight. If a font has more than two weights (many good fonts have a semibold—some even have further gradations), small-caps, different styles for different sizes—each of those variations is practically a new character set. You can see why that might add up to hundreds of dollars pretty quickly.

I don’t like it either—it means that as a student designer, I—lacking sufficient funds—am pretty much limited to the fonts that come preinstalled on my computer, but I would not say that the prices are unjustified.

windex's avatar

normally i would say, “thank you all, yes… bla bla bla… me being nice” but no more

i Do understand, i can Not believe no one is frustrated by the high prices.

do you guys know HOW MANY companies buy hundreds of licenses and pay a Crap Load to these companies?

I’ll try to switch to gimp (free) and also create some fonts using free font creation software and share the fonts with you guys.

lapilofu's avatar

I look forward to seeing your fonts.

laureth's avatar

Any fonts ready to share yet, @windex? :)

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