When you download Photoshop and purchase the annual subscription, you are essentially paying for the use of the program and all the design tools it encompasses. The subscription allows you to create graphics, designs, edit photographs, etc., for personal enjoyment or commercial use, like a website, brand marketing, a product, etc. Regardless of what is included in your subscription, you want to be aware of any licensing stipulations for copyrighted tools or graphics.
Fonts on Photoshop are copyrighted. However, you are still permitted to use the automatically downloaded fonts for personal and commercial use. With that being said, there is a restriction on the usage of Photoshop fonts.
Understanding licensing can be time-consuming and daunting when tackling legal jargon. Luckily, this article will break down what you need to know and address any gray areas that you might find confusing. Understanding licensing will allow you to have peace of mind, knowing you are using Photoshop appropriately.
How Are Photoshop Fonts Permitted to be Used?
You’ve just downloaded Photoshop and consented to a monthly or annual subscription to use the application. The terms and conditions were lengthy and perhaps confusing in the language used or redundancy. You want to know specifically about the fonts automatically downloaded with the program, and it states that they are copyrighted, so you want to know what that means for you, as the user. You also want to know about any restrictions in using Photoshop fonts.
The Photoshop fonts that come automatically with the purchase of the application can be used for personal or commercial use. Your monthly or annual subscription is a purchase of a license from Photoshop.
In other words, Photoshop owns all the rights to the fonts, but they are permitting you to use them as they dictate. The only restriction is that Photoshop fonts cannot be redistributed by any of its users.
Redistribution means that you cannot share the raw font file with anyone; this includes friends, co-workers, employers, employees, etc. Only you are permitted to use the font because you are the one who purchased the license, and the license is only good for you. However, you can share any work you have done using the font, whether PDF or another format.
The Copyright for Photoshop Font From External Vendors
Photoshop allows you to use fonts that you have downloaded from external vendors. When it comes to externally sourced fonts, the copyright rules may differ. For example, you may have found a font from a website or other program and downloaded it for free and are ready to use it in Photoshop, but the licensing of the font says it’s only free for personal use.
If you download a font that is free for personal use, it may mean that a purchase is required for commercial use. If there is no purchase option, the font can only be used for personal projects. It is important to always check the licensing of any font you downloaded from other programs or off the internet. Even if you pay for the font, that does not mean you can use it for personal and commercial use.
Also, keep in mind that when you are purchasing a font, you are purchasing a license only. That licensing could be for a single-use or multiple uses of the font; it depends on the terms. The license does not permit you to redistribute the font, even if it is externally sourced. The only way you can redistribute a font is if you have ownership, and that would require the copyright to be transferred over to you.
Personal Use Versus Commercial Use
With the fonts automatically downloaded with Photoshop, you don’t necessarily have to worry about the difference between personal and commercial use. However, if you have downloaded an external font, you will want to know the difference because some may only allow for personal use without purchase.
For Personal Use Only
Many fonts off the internet and free via other programs are only permitted for personal use. Most of the time, for it to be used commercially requires a purchase. You may not want to pay for the font, so you need to know what personal use constitutes.
Personal use means that you design or edit to keep your work primarily to yourself or share among friends or peers with no intention of gaining a profit. Personal use means that your design or graphic can not be on a website, marketing materials, a product, advertising, etc.
This licensing can get tricky because the line between personal and commercial use is so easily crossed. For example, let’s say you use Photoshop to create a funny graphic or meme, and you share it in a private group chat with your friends. They think it’s so great, one of them decides to put it on a poster and use that poster to promote an event where there is a cover charge. The design you created using a “for personal use” font is now being used commercially and violates the copyright.
For Commercial Use
The safer licensing option is for commercial use; this means you can use it on any project regardless of whether or not you turn a profit. Therefore, you can slap any design using the font on a t-shirt, flyer, ad, website, etc., and have peace of mind that you are using the font appropriately.
There are plenty of external sources, like Placeit.net, with fonts that allow for personal and commercial use. Take a look at Placeit’s license here to see commercial usage rights explained. The last thing you want is someone coming after you for copyright infringement over a font.
All in all, it is always the best practice to read the licensing agreement when using any tool or font on any website, application, or program, no matter how long or tedious. Knowing what you are given the right to do under the copyright ensures you will not violate the copyright and possibly be sued.