14 Replies Latest reply: Feb 21, 2012 11:38 AM by K T
AG_779 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

What is the legality of using fonts? I'm doing a cartoon panel type of book and several of the panels uses several type fonts which I got from OS and some I downloaded from free sites...not torrents. The free fonts came with author name and email, so I decided to email him, but no response. No surprise considering the date on the information is dated 2001. Anybody have experience on this subject?



MacBook Air, iOS 5.0.1
  • K T Level 7 Level 7 (23,700 points)

    Same as any owned and copyrighted material. See your agreement/contract with iTunes Producer, etc.


    The basic expecation is that should Apple ask for proof to use, you would be ready to supply it.


    Actually, tho, I doubt those circa 2001 fonts are supported on the platform...

  • Barnheisel Level 2 Level 2 (240 points)

    My undrstanding is you have to use fonts that are on the ipad. (about 25)

    Fonts that are on your computer that are not on the ipad will be substituted.


    if you want to use fonts that are not on the ipad you would need to make images of the text (photoshop etc) or screen shot. Becaus it is now an image and not a font it should not be a copyright issue. But best to read the license aggrement that goes with the font.

  • etresoft Level 7 Level 7 (27,125 points)

    iBooks doesn't have full HTML5 support. You have to stick to the basic fonts.

  • AG_779 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Fonts I am worried are part of the cartoon panels and are in jpg format. So I guess they are ok because they are not fonts, but art. I will try to look through the legal stuff just to confirm.


    Thanks all!

  • etresoft Level 7 Level 7 (27,125 points)

    Any artwork since 1923 is copyrighted unless the copyright hold has explicity put it into the public domain. It is your responsibility to track down said copyright owner and get permission, in writing, to use the artwork.

  • K T Level 7 Level 7 (23,700 points)

    >Fonts I am worried are part of ...

    Again, should Apple ask, we are expected to be have proof to use handy.


    >I will try to look through the legal stuff just to confirm.


    Be sure to use the most current version of your contract, etc. Contact Apple if you have specific questions.

  • Barnheisel Level 2 Level 2 (240 points)

    I should clarify my earlier statement.


    In the US "Typefaces" (the shape and design of the letters) are not considered artwork and are not copyrighted. This is outdated and sure to change at some point. A typeface may have a design patent though, but unlikely for a free/cheap font.


    The digital "Font" file is copyrighted as computer software and the license regards this use of the software, but not the "typeface"


    (sort of similar to the issue with the .ibooks file format vs the content of the book etc.)


    Bitmap font files are not copyrighted.


    Font names can be trademarked. This is why there are several versions of the same typeface with different names.


    Because you are not publishing or embedding a digital font file (You are publishing a JPEG) I don't think publishing the ibook is the issue, what is the issue is if you have a legal license to have the Font on your computer in the first place.


    If you don't have a license for the Font to be on your computer you are breaking the law whether you publish a book or not.


    So if you don't have a legal license for the Font, don't use it.

    If it was a free Font from an unknown source and you don't know if it is a legal Font, Don't use it.


    When in doubt, play it safe and buy the Font.


    You can try to find the Font on WhatTheFont.com and purchases a legitimate copy.


    Or buy Comic Life, it comes with some great cartoon fonts and is pretty cheap.


    The font copyright issue is always changing, but as far as I know this is how it is currently.


    Also, I'm no lawyer, so I may not know what the heck i'm talking about….

  • K T Level 7 Level 7 (23,700 points)

    >When in doubt, play it safe and buy the Font.


    Good suggestion. Except the fonts mentioned were touted as being 'free'...which puts us back to what that actually means, I think.

  • Barnheisel Level 2 Level 2 (240 points)

    You can have a free font that is a legal font to own and use for free.

    If it came from a big type house etc


    or it could be a free font that was created illeagaly (ie. they took a digiatl font from adobe, moved some of the points in fontmonger, renamed it and gave it away for free)

    it is based on Adobes font software and they broke their licence agreement with Adobe. it is an illeagal free font.


    Alot of the free fonts are like this.


    If you took a page from a type book scaned it, created a font file with fontmonger it would be legal

    (if there is no design patent)


    The font in question sounds questionable...

  • K T Level 7 Level 7 (23,700 points)

    >You can have a free font that is a legal font to own and use for free.


    Yes - that's the point....but it still isn't something the OP could ever 'buy', thanks for confirming.


    And that's all we know at this point, since the title was misleading. Why tell someone to buy something like that when it's not an option.


    The not-asked question actually was about using 'free' content, obtained years ago (?) that may be copyrighted for another age....it doesn't matter that it happens to be a font in this context....it's not being used as a font. Styling, or someone's catalog content, maybe. Notice that the OP didn't name it....


    And the best advice is to not use something you're not sure of....music, video or quotes...it doesn't matter if you're not sure. The only 'sure' way to be safe is to not touch it.

  • Barnheisel Level 2 Level 2 (240 points)

    Also buying a font doesn't mean it is a legal font. More important is the source.

    If it comes from a established font foundry or font maker.


    It's possible that the font in question was a legal free font. But since the maker is no longer around it is hard to tell. But the font making industry was huge in the begining and there are a lot of legit font makers that got out of the business, It could have been a free promo font. If there is no license, don't use it. He said he was going to look at the legal stuff so I assumed he had a license.


    If it is a legal free font, use it.


    If it was an illegal free font based on a real font, he should be able to find the real font on WTFont.com and buy from an established font house.


    There are lots of free fonts on the internet that are also available from a font house.


    and if that doesn't work buy a font that looks similar to be on the safe side.


    The "free" part really has nothing to do with it, it is whether it is a legal font and he has the license to it.


    and if he doesn't know then he shouldn't use it.

  • Barnheisel Level 2 Level 2 (240 points)

    If a search for the font on WTFont.com comes up with a font that looks the same from say Adobe, or House Industries etc. then the free font from 2001 probably is illegal and he should buy the "real" version.


    If it doesn't come up with a match it could be a real font that some guy made and was offering for free to try and get traffic to his site etc.


    Especially if it is a funky hand made looking font.

  • Barnheisel Level 2 Level 2 (240 points)

    My last two cents, (trying to be helpful and clear) which I guess my early posts weren't.


    You need to determine if you legally own a legal font and if so what are its restrictions.


    1) look at the license (even free fonts have licenses)

    if you don't have a license for the font, don't use it. You have no proof you own the font.


    If you do have a license, is the font restricted to non commercial use only?

    if so, don't use it.


    Embedding the digital font would be a copyright infringement, but you are not doing that so that is not an issue (my point in my first post)


    2) If you do have a license for the font and it allows for commercial use,

    You then need to determine if you legally own a legal font.


    example 1, I upload a Adobe font (complete with license) for free download.

    this is a legal font that you don't own legally.  Don't use it.

    Pretty easy to check, is the font a brand name font?


    example 2. I take a Adobe font, modify it with Fontographer, change the name, put my own license on it and give it away for free.


    This is an illegal font, and this was done a lot.

    Adobe could go after me and you for copyright infringement.


    This is also pretty easy to check, If a similar looking font is available from a major brand, the free font is probably a copy. Don't use it. (buy the version from the major brand)


    If you do a font search and can't find a similar looking font for sale, (search for the "look" not the name) there is a good chance it is a legal font but still hard to determine if the original source is out of business.


    Hope that helps.

  • K T Level 7 Level 7 (23,700 points)

    >...hand made looking font.


    Speaking of which, hand mongering your own would put you strictly in the clear


    ...but again, don't hold out for broad iOS font support via iBA. Apps can payload their own fonts, and PDFs in some cases, tho.


    Caricatures ~ images with fonts displayed in them being the topic at hand, I think you understand now how that plays in this example.