Are System Fonts Free for Commercial Use?

Most of us have likely used the fonts that come with our system at some point. However, if you’re using them for commercial use, there are some things you need to be aware of. Do you know whether you’re allowed to use a particular font for the project you’re working on? Do the fonts that came with the software you use have licenses that give you the right set of permissions for commercial use?

In total, fonts that are released with a system under open-source licenses, or software that has licensing included in the purchase or subscription, can be used in any non-commercial or commercial project. However, depending on the program, there may be limitations as to how fonts can be used.

Every designer knows that fonts have a considerable impact on the visual aspects of any logo or design. However, for something we use every day, most of us are unaware of the legal issues associated with using a font. Below you will find a full breakdown of how fonts can be used and how to find out if the fonts that came with your system are free for commercial use. 

Are The Fonts That Came with your System Free for Commercial Use?

Whether or not your fonts are free for commercial use really depends on the system you are using. For example, fonts provided with Google Docs or Adobe’s Typekit can be used across print and online marketing without the need for an additional license. However, this isn’t the case with fonts from all systems, even the ones you pay for.

Fonts are, in reality, protected by intellectual property rights. Regardless of whether they are provided for free or paid, they are subject to a license agreement. 

The kind of use that is permitted might differ based on the kind of license that was granted by the developer. For this reason, you must understand the license to ensure that you are not using your typeface in a way that you do not have authorization for.

How To Know If a System Font Is Free for Commercial Use

It’s essential to keep in mind that just because a font came with your system doesn’t mean you can use it however you choose.

For example, Windows comes with a set of fonts that can be used across the whole system, meaning any software you have on your computer can use these fonts. The catch is that you have to make sure you aren’t using an application that is specifically licensed for home, student, or non-commercial use. Microsoft also has some other restrictions for how fonts are used.

Typekit is another catalog of a fonts offered through Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription. These are open to being used for any commercial and personal projects, so long as you hold a subscription to the service.

On the other hand, Google Fonts holds a catalog of free fonts for anyone to use for personal and commercial reasons. You can use these fonts across applications, including online design services like Placeit.

What it really boils down to is making sure you carefully read through the licensing terms for the system you are using, so you can avoid causing trouble for yourself and your clients.

Commercially Licensed vs. Open-Source Fonts?

All fonts come with a license of some sort. When it comes to using fonts commercially, there are two licenses to look out for: open fonts and commercial fonts.

Buying a commercial font permits you to use the font for certain things, such as printed products or digital marketing materials. However, each font has different license terms. This means that you might be able to use the same font on many different projects, or you may be restricted to only using it on one piece. So, you really need to read the End User License Agreement (EULA) for each typeface you buy before you use it.

Many designers will often opt for using an Open Font License (OFL). The OFL allows these fonts to be used, modified, and redistributed freely. SIL and Google are among the few that offer OFL fonts that designers can use.

Where to Find OFL Fonts To Use for Commercial Projects

You should look for fonts that say in their license that they can be used for commercial purposes if you want to use them to make money from them. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a font, it’s a good idea to search out free fonts as often as possible because there’s the least amount of risk with them.

However, not all fonts are created equally, so it’s good to know where to look so that you aren’t wasting your time and potentially finding yourself in a bind. Here are a few of the most popular sites to find trustworthy OFL fonts:

The number of open-source fonts is growing all the time. There are few instances when free fonts are unlawfully copied; however, most free fonts allow for full usage.

OFL fonts are also great for those looking to experiment with new design components since there are so many styles to choose from. The open-source movement has its roots in the development and growth of the typography community. Because these fonts can be changed and made public, this is a great way to find and help make evolution designs.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how and when you can use the fonts that came with your system for commercial use. Remember, if you get fonts with a piece of software, they are usually licensed with that software in some way.

Make sure to read through the licensing terms so that you know what permissions you have for using a font. If you’re still not sure in the end, you may want to take advantage of open-source fonts, since that comes with the least amount of risk.