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The Importance of Proper Font Licensing for Websites

When creating or updating your website, choosing the right font for your website can help make it stand out. However, it's important to remember that fonts are protected by copyright laws, and using them without proper permission can lead to legal trouble. In this blog post, I will discuss the importance of making sure you have the license rights to use a font on your website, the difference between print and website font usage, and what can happen if you use a font that you do not have a website usage license.

Understanding Font Copyright and Licensing

When it comes to using fonts on a website, it's important to understand font copyright and licensing. Fonts are protected by copyright law, which means that you need permission from the font designer or the owner of the font's copyright to use it legally. The font designer or copyright owner is the only one who can grant permission to use the font, and they may do so in exchange for a fee or other consideration.

The Difference Between Print and Website Font Usage

When you use a font in print, you're typically creating a physical product, such as a book or brochure. In this case, you would typically purchase a license for the font that allows you to use it in a specific number of printed copies. However, when you use a font on a website, the font is being used digitally and can potentially be downloaded and used by anyone who visits the website. This means that you need to obtain a different type of license to use the font on a website.

Website Font Licenses

Most font foundries (companies that design and sell fonts) offer website licenses that allow you to use their fonts on a website. These licenses typically come with restrictions on the number of pageviews, domains, and other factors that can affect the cost of the license. It's important to read and understand the terms of the license before purchasing it to ensure that you're using the font legally.

Fonts that Can be Used without a License

While many fonts require a license for website usage, there are also many fonts that can be used without a license. For example, fonts available on fonts.google.com are available for free and can be used on websites without a license. These fonts are open source and licensed under the SIL Open Font License, which allows for free use, modification, and distribution of the fonts. Unless you are very attached to using a certain font, I recommend you start here when looking for a font.

Consequences of Using an Unlicensed Font

Using an unlicensed font on your website can lead to legal trouble and damage to your reputation as an organization. Font designers and copyright owners can take legal action against you, which can result in a cease and desist order, a lawsuit, or other legal penalties. In addition to legal consequences, using an unlicensed font can also damage your reputation and credibility. It also shows a great level of disrespect for the creators of the font, especially if you knowingly use an unlicensed font.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it's important to remember that fonts are protected by copyright laws and that using them without proper permission can lead to legal trouble. When using fonts on a website, you need to obtain a website usage license from the font designer or copyright owner, or use open-source fonts that do not require a license. Failing to obtain the proper license can result in legal action and damage to your reputation as a web designer. By taking the time to ensure that you have the proper licenses for the fonts you use, you can avoid these potential consequences and create a professional and visually appealing website. Contact me if you would like help chosing a font, or deployng the font in the best manor on your website.

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