The font you choose for your brand is important for drawing attention and making your logo, design, or page stand out among your competitors. If you find a font you would like to label your company with, you may not have a free range of use. So, what happens if you use a free font for commercial use?
Without proper licensing, you might find yourself in trouble when using a certain font for commercial use, even if it is a free font. Most fonts themselves are software, and in most cases, the creator(s) of the software owns the rights and can set boundaries for commercial use.
Read on to learn what happens if you use a free font for commercial use. Sometimes, it may not be a problem at all, but especially with the involvement of an established business, failure to follow legal rules surrounding font usage can be a major inconvenience and can land you and your marketing team in trouble.
What Happens If You Use A Free Font For Commercial Use?
You can find a font whose rules and regulations allow for unrestricted use. As you will learn shortly, however, it is best to make sure the claimed owner of the font is the true owner. In other instances, you can find free fonts but still have to get licensing for them.
If you find a font you like, the first thing you should do is get as much information about the font as you can. Learn about the owner of the font, the software itself, and the legality regarding the use of the font. If you do all this and find that the font is free with no restrictions of use, you should be able to use the font however you want, even for a major logo or other design.
The main problem with free fonts having unrestricted use is that there is a chance several other companies have used the font, which can take away from the individuality of your marketing endeavors. Using free font for commercial use, especially when dealing with free fonts with lackluster licensing, can prevent you from making your logo as unique as you might like.
Still, free fonts are a valuable option for those wanting to save money on marketing, and when used correctly for commercial use, can be very beneficial. In fact, commercial use for fonts consists of much more than creating a logo. Your logo may not even have words in it that would require a font. Whether you want to use a free font for a logo design or any other commercial use, you are likely going to have to obtain a license.
As mentioned, even free fonts may require licensing. Typically, you should not have too much trouble getting a license to use a free font. A font license is a document signed by yourself and the licenser which states how you can use the font. Free fonts can have restrictions, and a contract explaining those restrictions is required for proper licensing.
If you have to acquire licensing for a font, even if it may be free, do not be surprised if you have to pay a minor fee for the license. Along with the rules stating how you can use the free font, the license agreement will also explain how you cannot use the font and how doing so is a breach of the contract. Different fonts and licensing agreements vary in rules, so it is important to read your agreement thoroughly.
Font As A Logo
While it may be uncommon, you must be careful of using a font that is said to be free but might have copyright laws from a well-known logo it is used for. As you will see in the next section, this can lead to much more trouble than a simple licensing rule-break. For now, just know that if you recognize a “free” font that you know is used in a famous logo, you should be wary.
Copying Font Without Copying Software
It can be legal to essentially create your own font out of an already existing font. That is to say, you can print letters and symbols of a font, scan the images, and then trace the glyphs on your computer. Technically, this counts as creating your own font, as you are in no way copying or stealing the potentially licensed software created to produce the font.
As said above, this can be a problem if the font is used for a famous logo or another aspect of an established company’s commercial use. The font – or in many cases, the typeface – may not require licensing, but a logo containing the font is likely copyrighted. Although it is the logo that is licensed and not the font itself, you can get into trouble for “creating” font in this way.
Copied Commercial Fonts
You read earlier that you must make sure the source of your font is the original owner. If you can find this out and work out a licensing agreement with the font owner, you should have no problem.
On the other hand, some people illegally copy fonts and/or font software and attempt to advertise them as free fonts. It is essential to track who you are receiving font permissions from, especially if you recognize a font as used by a major company or something of the like.
Microsoft Word Fonts
Microsoft word and other processing software contain hundreds of fonts. Since you have likely purchased the processing software yourself, you have the right to use the fonts provided to you. Keep in mind, however, that fonts in these categories could potentially lack a bit of individuality and may be well overused. Although, there are plenty of high-quality, free fonts out there.
It is also worth noting that it is illegal to sell fonts from processing software. You can benefit from your own purchase, but stay away from trying to sell the software to others.
Placeit.net Is a Great Alternative
If you do not wish to deal with the possible legal conflicts of free fonts, you might like to try out Placeit. Placeit is an online software where you can create logos, designs, mockups, and more, all with 100% commercially usable fonts, images, and templates.
With tens of thousands of templates, you’ll likely be able to find what you need for any project. Whether you choose to use pre-made designs or want to make tweaks of your own, Placeit is a great place to consider when it comes to free fonts.
You can find many great fonts that are free to use with no restrictions regarding how you use them. However, even some free fonts can require licensing agreements between you and the owner of the software and font. Be careful when delving into the field of free fonts, as failing to do proper research can land you in trouble.