Licence Required to Use Fonts?

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Rationalist

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Is a licence required to use fonts in for-profit works? I have tried looking things up, and like most IPR issues, ambiguity persists. One font creator has demanded a fee for using his font for just one word on my cover. Does everyone who publishes a book obtain permission for using the font that they adopt for their text?

I am ready to self-pub and have been contacting self-pub services, chiefly for typesetting and formatting, cover design, and uploading my book for online sales – all are falling way short of my expectations, with little to offer in terms of guidance and creative inputs, despite their “you have done the writing; leave the publishing to professionals” tagline. They probably follow a cut-and-dried process of formatting and cover design. Thought I'd share my experience here.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Is this for ebook or print or both?
 

Dennis E. Taylor

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This is a question that other writers (like me) have had, and we're all going to want to know.

And yea, IANAL, but someone must have learned something by now...
 

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Is a licence required to use fonts in for-profit works? I have tried looking things up, and like most IPR issues, ambiguity persists. One font creator has demanded a fee for using his font for just one word on my cover. Does everyone who publishes a book obtain permission for using the font that they adopt for their text?

Many fonts require you to pay to use them if you're doing so in a commercial setting.

For e-books it's usually only an issue for the fonts you use on the cover, as the interior text are often determined by the reader. For print books it's more of an issue.

Yes, every good publisher pays where required.

I am ready to self-pub and have been contacting self-pub services, chiefly for typesetting and formatting, cover design, and uploading my book for online sales – all are falling way short of my expectations, with little to offer in terms of guidance and creative inputs, despite their “you have done the writing; leave the publishing to professionals” tagline. They probably follow a cut-and-dried process of formatting and cover design. Thought I'd share my experience here.

Thanks in advance.

This is a different issue to the "paying for fonts" thing but I agree with you: many of the services offered aren't up to scratch. Be careful out there.
 

NateSean

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I had this conversation on another forum. I wish MSword still had the Mr. Paperclip animated help feature.

*Using certain font, Mr. Paperclip pops up*

"Are you trying to get sued today?"
 

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This is a question that other writers (like me) have had, and we're all going to want to know.

And yea, IANAL, but someone must have learned something by now...

Fonts are licensed. Some are "standard" because they've been licensed as part of the operating system. Those are the "standard" fonts you'll see referenced at Lulu or Create Space.

If you're planning on using a non-standard font for text (not images) in an ebook, you have to license it and embed the font. This is not trivial, but honestly, with a very few exceptions, it's pointless since you do not control the fonts the reader will use to read the book.

If you're using a non-standard font for print, you will need to have a license. This license sometimes includes sub licenses / fees for specific uses, like on a cover. Read the license agreement carefully. Font / type designers are artists and should be paid, but be sure what it is you are paying for.

Also be aware that while lots of people design and release fonts, far fewer of them have a clue, and often, the font will not function properly when used on a high-end high resolution printer.

In terms of hiring a typesetter, I'd be wary. Some people think using InDesign makes them a typesetter; there's more to it than that. If you're paying pro rates, hire a pro with references from publishers.
 

Rationalist

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Thanks all, for your replies.

I was enquiring about both ebooks and print.

A W Admin – how does one ascertain if a particular font is standard, and can be used commercially without a licence? Google is not being much of a help.

Came across this on one site (with regard to Adobe’s Minion font): “the chances are good that even if you don't have a commercial license, your book printer or publisher will. So there is nothing to worry about for most self-publishing authors.” https://www.quora.com/Can-I-use-in-my-commercial-book-the-Minion-Pro-font-I-downloaded-for-free

Yes, every good publisher pays where required.

Does that mean that others don’t, and get away with it?
 

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Thanks all, for your replies.

I was enquiring about both ebooks and print.

A W Admin – how does one ascertain if a particular font is standard, and can be used commercially without a licence? Google is not being much of a help.

It's up to you to do your research: we can't do it for you, I'm afraid.

Came across this on one site (with regard to Adobe’s Minion font): “the chances are good that even if you don't have a commercial license, your book printer or publisher will. So there is nothing to worry about for most self-publishing authors.” https://www.quora.com/Can-I-use-in-my-commercial-book-the-Minion-Pro-font-I-downloaded-for-free



Does that mean that others don’t, and get away with it?

Lots of people use use fonts without having the license to do so. Some of them get away with it, some of them don't.

The advice that your printer or publisher will have the licences required refers to writers who are being published by trade publishers, I think. (The good ones: I've seen several smaller publishers which don't bother with such things.)


While on the topic of fonts – I intend using this font for one word (“Procreation”) in my subtitle – is it too risqué (R is perhaps the risqué-est of the lot)? – My book is serious nonfiction – a comprehensive philosophical enquiry http://www.fontspace.com/character/silvestre-bodies

Thanks!

It depends on your intended market, and how you want it to be perceived. I see nothing risque with the font, but others might.
 

WeaselFire

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Is a licence required to use fonts in for-profit works?

What does the license agreement for the font set say? Many fonts are public domain, many are released for free use, including commercial and many are proprietary and licensed. Many designers, printers and publishers have already licensed fonts that you can use and many layout software programs have font sets included for use.

One simple way to find out is to Google the name of the font with the word license. As in Helvetica License or Bookman License. If you want a free to use fonts, try a search for Free Font Like Bookman.

Or, sign up for Adobe's font system, Adobe Type. Especially is you're using InDesign for layout or Photoshop or Illustrator for your cover.

Jeff
 

GardeningMomma

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Yeah, like WeaselFire said, you really need to read each and every license agreement, be sure you understand it, and keep records of it. I actually have a friend who is a font designer. She has been really irritated lately that people have not been paying the very small fee for commercial use, so she is beginning to prosecute some of the bigger offenders.

One site that has a lot of free for commercial use fonts is The Hungry Jpeg. I have bought a few commercial licenses from them, too, just to do work on other ventures (not publishing). Again, though, you really need to read the licensing CAREFULLY. Some licenses will institute an upward limit of the amount of products you can produce with it. If you are selling an ebook, how would you handle that?? If you purchase the license for 10,000 units, would you take your book off the market then? Would you purchase a new license?

Finally, just because you don't get caught doing something illegal doesn't make it ok. The people who create good fonts actually take a lot of time in creating them, have to buy expensive software, etc. Don't rip them off. Everyone benefits when creative works are bought rather than stolen.

:) There's my $.02!
 

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