[To celebrate my first year of programming I will ask a ‘stupid’ questions daily on my blog for a year, to make sure I learn at least 365 new things during my second year as a developer]
A discussion I had with a dear friend of min, Kim Brockie (also known as MrKSB), about design led me to this question. Why my interest in fonts? Apart from my love for Metro design and typography art, I just love software in all shapes and sizes,- and fonts are software! Anyway, Kim and I were talking about some design he had done, and I asked him about the fonts used (it was a web application, a CMS). He talked about buying fonts, and I realized that I have never really thought much about the fact that you need licenses for many fonts- and that the license need depends on the use- and varies a lot. Just as with stock images- you have to pay for a license if it is for commercial use (AKA commercial fonts)! (single or a package- depends on the license). It is actually quite complicated, and especially when it comes to web applications.
This is what I found out from my research, and please correct me if I am wrong!
If you reference fonts in your css, then it is perfectly fine- as it is the user that has the fonts installed (and therefore the license for the fonts) and you are not distributing the fonts.
This is legal:
font-family:"Times New Roman", Times, serif;
If you reference the fonts with @font-face it is not legal with the same fonts as above, as you are providing the font!
– if you notice the.ttf, this is the font file.
If you provide/distribute the font in any way, and you don’t have a license, then it is not legal.
When used in images it gets even more tricky, and you should be very careful there. Some allow you to if it is only a title/description, but not if it used as ‘art’. Often there are restrictions on digital formats (again with the distribution). Always read the license agreement!
Be aware of so-called free fonts. Many will upload , as often done done with software, fonts that arent free to a site,- or the font will be incorrectly labelled as free (and in the user agreement it will have sone heavy restrictions making the fonts useless as-is). In short, stick to known large font-sites, make sure you read the agreement and that you know what you will be using the font for and under which circumstances, and if you are in doubt- contact the artist and ask! Rather safe than sorry, especially if you are making a commercial site for a client as the responsibility lies with you.
I’ll reveal tomorrows question now, as it is related:
‘Stupid’ Question 7: How do I add a font (google web fonts example), and where do I find the license?