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Dive into the captivating world of Fonts: Everything you need to know about copyright and licenses!

March 19th, 2024

Fonts, these essential elements of our graphic creations, conceal a complex legal universe often overlooked. Whether you're a passionate designer or a seasoned professional, understanding the ins and outs of copyright law and licenses is crucial to avoid pitfalls and unleash your full creativity.

The ABC of Fonts: Terminology and Protection

Firstly, a little lexicon is necessary. Typography (or typeface) represents a set of characters sharing a common design. for example: Franklin Gothic. As for the font (or typeface), it refers to characters of specific weight, style, or size, grouped into a computer file or software (for example: Franklin Gothic Book, Franklin Gothic Demi, Franklin Gothic Heavy, etc.).

Protected Works: Did You Know?

It is important to know that fonts are protected works under copyright law. Therefore, their use without permission from the copyright holder can lead to serious legal consequences such as compensatory damages.

Navigating the Labyrinth of Licenses

When you would like to use a font, two options are available: create your own font or obtain a license for an existing font. Licenses define the conditions of use of the font, such as the designation of the parties, the description of the font used, the duration of the license, the possibility or not of granting a sublicense to a service provider, the possibility or not of modifying the font, etc. Generally, each entity using a third-party font must possess its own license.

Types of Licenses: Which One Is Right for You?

There are different types of licenses suitable for different uses: licenses for personal (non-commercial) use and licenses for commercial use. Licenses also vary depending on the intended use (desktop, web, app, etc.). Beware, a free font does not necessarily imply the absence of a license!

Practical Advice: The Secret to Informed Use

It is crucial to understand if you need a font license before using it in your projects or those of your clients. If your client provides you with a font for which a license has already been obtained, you may need to obtain an additional license for your use of the font on behalf of your client. Similarly, if you have previously purchased a license to use a font in a specific project or for a specific client, and you wish to use it in another project or for another client, carefully check the license terms to determine if the new use is permitted under the purchased license. To avoid unpleasant surprises, download and print the applicable license for each purchase, request a copy of the applicable license for a font provided by your client, and always read the terms of the applicable license before purchasing it. And remember: always obtain the license in writing to avoid any future misunderstandings.

Conclusion: Unleash Your Creativity Safely!

All in all, fonts are much more than just characters. They are protected works, governed by strict legal rules. We would be pleased to accompany you not only to understand these rules but also to guide you in choosing the appropriate licenses. You can thus unleash your full creativity safely!

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