Saint John, IN asked in Business Law and Contracts for Indiana

Q: I run a small business where i i use free fonts online for designs. While i was downloading a font today the file opened

Saying if using for commercial purposes you must buy license for use while it’s on a free platform and can be downloaded for free, my question is do i actually have to since this is a free font on a free platform or will i still be required to buy the license?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Matthew Morris
Matthew Morris
  • Carmel, IN
  • Licensed in Indiana

A: The fact that a font is available for free online for some purposes does not mean that you can download and use it for free for other purposes. Fonts are considered to be a type of software. Just like other types of software, the person who programmed it can distribute it with license terms, often called end user license agreements, or EULAs. Here's a similar example that you might have encountered: you might have received a free educational version of software while you were a student. The EULA on that software likely included an agreement that you would use it only for personal or educational purposes. If you downloaded it to use in a commercial business, you would have violated the license. For your fonts, it's likely that in the process of downloading the font you were asked to check a box saying that you agreed to certain terms and conditions, and then to click a button saying that you agree. These features are often called click-wrap, and they are generally legally binding.

What do you do from here? It depends. You'll want to check whether the fonts you are using do, in fact, have restrictions in the license. You'll want to figure out what those restrictions are and the license fee that they want you to pay. You'll want to see what the agreements you clicked on say about the damages that you can be required to pay if you break the license agreement.

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