47 posts

Commercial Use of Fonts - clarification would be nice

Jun 22, 2011 at 16:47

dafont is an excellent resource, however a lot of people contributing fonts don't state terms-of-use for their fonts (either on the site or in the downloadable zip).

I've no idea where that leaves a font in copyright terms - it could be argued that by making them freely downloadable and not setting-out any terms you're permitting any and all use of the font (including commercialuse or even resale) - it could also be argued that the complete opposite applies and that no use of the font is permitted beyond looking at it!

It would be nice if dafont could make it clearer what the default usage of fonts is where authors don't state one - because otherwise the bulk of fonts here are, essentially, useless...

Jun 22, 2011 at 18:37

Please choose your words correctly in a subject like this, otherwise it leads only to more confusion. You are talking about license, not copyright. And whatever the license terms, the copyright stays with the designer up to 50 years after his/her death.
When the license terms here say 'free for personal use' or something alike you may want to start to make a lot of fuzz about missing EULAs but the terms are perfectly clear; personal, so not commercial, so not resale, so not for profit making, so not for etc.
If you prefer to use a different interpretation it is most probably that you need to see a shrink as then you would suffer from a thinking disease.
Seeing a shrink, btw, will cost you far more that buying a commercial license. But with your problem you most probably never thought of that, says The Kat to the doggie.

Jun 22, 2011 at 18:50

Usually the terms of license is specified on Dafont. Could you give us a concrete example of a font lacking license information ?

Jun 22, 2011 at 18:58

Cat owners eh?

The licence of which you speak is simply the terms under which the copyright to use the font is offered - you can try to separate the concepts if you like, but the problem remains the same in that we've no idea what the creator intended (and thus no idea how they'd respond to your using the font).

Many fonts on dafont don't specify a licence (happier now??) at all and I can't find a default licence that their creators would have agreed-to when uploading their work.

I'm not suggesting anyone should be giving anything away - but uploading fonts with no indication of licence is a massive grey area and renders the effort moot (as you cannot assume anything - even personal use)

Many font designers do include licences - but even then, I've read lengthy licences which talk about distribution and resale (permitted or forbidden) but do not discuss personal/commercial usage terms (again, you'd be wrong to use those fonts in many cases!!)

I think some clarity on the issue would be nice - is all.

Jun 22, 2011 at 18:58

Nah vinz, doggie is just a smart , one of those who try to find the loopholes and bend all his way, incapable of wanting to understand what is meant by people who make a font whilst not being a lawyer.

Jun 22, 2011 at 19:04

Get back to school doggie. The copyright to use the font can not be offered. The right to use the font can be offered - the license. Whilst back at school read the Convention of Berne papers.

Jun 22, 2011 at 19:05

I must have looked at a dozen yesterday but just quickly searching you find something like this one

No comment or info - Nothing in the zip - no site (in a lot of cases sites are listed but dead and again this is a bit of a dead end).

Edited on Jun 22, 2011 at 19:16 by somewhatdog

Jun 22, 2011 at 19:14

Since koeiekat has decided to be condescending, rude and ignorant (keyboard warrior with a cat fixation - there's a novelty) I'll explain WHY I ask.

I lot of work I do (for free) goes into websites or games which are personal (not for sale/non-commercial) - however, said websites and the sites hosting them/the games will sometimes run ads and I cannot always control what a client does with my work once they have it...

I therefore like to understand clearly what the terms of use are and prefer to use resources which are offered 'free use'. I never assume anything is 'free beer' and I always credit people (check the comments I've left here for people in the past).

If you look at a site like, you'll see that they make it very clear that people uploading work are permitting free use of that work - this means it's a useful resource and you don't have to spend eons finding out licensing terms on websites written in languages you don't speak!

It would be nice to have something that clear here - for personal/commercial/redistribution terms - if it exists, I can't see it...

and koeiekat - try being condescending again and I'll not be so polite...

Jun 22, 2011 at 20:39

Whether you as designer do your work for free or a fee is not relevant in this case. The ones that use your work are bound to the license. If they do not make a profit with the use of your design(s) with their font(s) it fits perfectly within 'free for personal use'. As soon as they go commercial things change and they will need to buy a license (often here make a donation). It is up to you to make the people you design for to make them aware of that when presenting your design - again, be it for free or a fee.
From that moment on the responsibility is with the users of your designs. Not with you. You are not the user of the font. They are.

And, indeed, there are a lot of fonts here on Dafont or anywhere else where you can find fonts that lack license info. Thousands of them were made in the late nineties, the early years of the make a font yourselves bonanza and today it is even worse with the overdose of grunges 'created' by 14 years old kids that have - understandably - little knowledge of the legal issues concerning publishing a font and/or the commercial aspects. Then taking the position Ha, it is free! Let's make some money with it! is imho unfair. To say the least.

Thus, when The Kat encounters a post that seeks the edges of 'free' them claws show.
And do read the Convention of Berne papers. Interesting food for designers. Even for the doggies amongst them

edited for typo

Edited 2 times. Last edit on Jun 22, 2011 at 20:42 by koeiekat

Jun 22, 2011 at 21:19

I don't really think explaining the concept of font licencing to people who aren't digital artists/designers etc. would ever work - hence why I prefer to use 'truly free' resources or DIY everything...

I've been approached by a lot of people who've had logos etc. designed elsewhere and want me to replicate them in some form (DVDs/CDs/websites/games etc.) but it's clear in many cases that the fonts and other resources are copyrighted and require licenses that the people don't have (and probably know nothing about) - it's that sort of thing I don't want to perpetuate myself...

Given the multiplicity of uses for Fonts (and other graphical resources) I think we need more practical and clear licencing - you cannot expect someone to know that artwork that had done 'for free' cannot be used commercially...

I think a lot of people probably use dafont thinking that because it's all 'free' to download that it's 'free' for any use too - that needs clearing up as well perhaps??

Jun 23, 2011 at 14:52

Thank you for the example.
The "free" mention on the right is not enough ?

there are several licenses :
- Free
- Free for personnal use
- Shareware
- Demo
- Public Domain Gnu/GPL
- Donationware

I don't understand what you really need from dafont...

Edited 2 times. Last edit on Jun 23, 2011 at 14:55 by vinz

Jun 23, 2011 at 15:59

I'd noticed that BUT I've seen cases of fonts marked 'Free' which then went on to state "not for commercial use" or "not for redistribution" and, in one case (which I cannot now find) which included in the zip a txt file which said that "any use of this font is subject to licences available at our site"!!

I'd therefore assumed that 'status' wasn't really helpful and probably not in any way 'legally binding'??

There's nowhere on the site which says "if a font is marked 'free' then it's free for any use - this licence was agreed by the uploaded and cannot be rescinded" - that I can find at least??

Obviously that bit of text is no help if someone comes along in a year's time and accuses me of 'stealing' their work either - but something in the ZIP file which stated that it came from dafont where it was held on a 'insert type here' licence would be more useful perhaps??

Another way of saying this is - when a font creator isn't specifically stating the licence (in the zip or on their site), can we assume anything based on dafont's agreement with them as uploaders??

Jun 23, 2011 at 18:34

Since 2005 the author determine the "status", so it's 100% reliable unless it says "First seen on DaFont: before 2005". This website doesn't make the fonts but just provide a way to distribute them, it's the authors'duty to update their infos.
If you find some incoherence between what is stated on the page and what it should be, feel free to contact the adminsitrator, he'll probably update the site with the new informations.
If this is just untolerable for you to risk being accused of stealing someone's work, go BUY your fonts and stop complaining!

Edited on Jun 23, 2011 at 18:35 by vinz

Jun 23, 2011 at 19:51

I love how I'm "complaining" when asking a perfectly reasonable question - one that a lot of other people SHOULD have been asking but clearly don't care about...

No idea why I should buck that trend, end of the day I spend a fortune every year on software licences, font licences, music licences etc. whilst a significant proportion of other content creators are clearly "pirating the fuck out of everything in sight" - why I'm trying to stop that tide I've no idea really - more annoying still when you're accused of it because you're trying NOT to do it.

I realise daFont doesn't make the fonts - it is, however, a high profile distributor of them and, as such, could make a useful contribution to the whole situation regarding font licensing, make it easier for creators to pursue those who violate their terms and generally contribute to making everything work better.

If dafont are happy leaving it as-is tho - well, not everyone is willing to do the job properly I guess...

I've found a couple of great sources of fonts through dafont - people who make their licences clear and offer a great range of free and reasonably priced stuff - overall it will be easier just to stick to them in future - problem solved for me.

Edited on Jun 23, 2011 at 19:52 by somewhatdog

Jun 23, 2011 at 22:16

in an ideal world, you're right, everyone is aware of font license and fair use, all fonts are tagged with the right label, everything shine in the blue blue sky. The fact is some authors don't even KNOW these things because they are often amateurs or kids doing it for fun.

Dafont is a mainstream font website, one of the first available on the web. It have always respected the law, licenses and authors. Every time a legal infrigement regarding a font is known, dafont removes it immediately (you can't say that for every font related websites...) this is a fact. A basic check is done while submitting a font but it's impossible to verify every fonts one by one afterwards or contact authors to educate them... Imagine an author changed the license of his font, how dafont could be aware of that if he did not modify it himself? If you feel in the mood to contact the authors of the 12 576 fonts of dafont (once a week to be sure and always up to date), then go ahead. I don't. And i believe the admin of dafont neither.

The only thing we can do is to force authors to publish their license, but once again there are many amateurs and kids doing this and they don't care / are not aware of the legal stuffs to put in it. This is not a professionnal website, this is a mainstream one. Visitors are kids, grandpa, pro or amateurs. If you're a kid, a grandpa or an amateur, chances are you'll never be persued because you made the flyer for Aunty Mary's birthday. If you're a professionnal selling your work you MUST be aware of the law and take your responsabilities. If you want to use a font commercialy you have to check from the author if you have the legal rights to do so. Make a search and note the results to prouve you have tried to contact him, this can be legally take in consideration. Dafont can't take the responsability for the author or the user.

I agree with you, we need to educate the lambda user, that's what we're trying to do here, in this forum. We are repeating the same things again and again... You can join us in our endless crusade, you're very welcome! But if you think you found another website that fully suits your needs, good for you.

PS: English is not my first language and the abuse of question marks in your previous message skewed my perception of the general tone of your thinking.

Edited 3 times. Last edit on Jun 23, 2011 at 22:29 by vinz

Jun 23, 2011 at 22:45

Do uploaders have to agree to any terms when they choose 'Free' or 'Free for personal use' etc?

It's just that would cover a lot of bases in terms of them not being able to pursue people later - esp. if you could arrange to include a copy of the terms they agreed to in the downloaded zip files?

Jun 23, 2011 at 23:01

Kinda... check yourself :
In fact if you choose "free" from the dropdown, you allow free usage of the font, so it can be considered as an agreement.
As i said, beware of fonts before 2005, these ones were not uploaded through this system.

Jun 23, 2011 at 23:03

That's v.useful to know - thanks!!

Now to try to explain all this to the local club who've decided to market themselves commercially with my 'free' art :(

Jun 23, 2011 at 23:09

See vinz, doggie brain. Needs to back to school ... etc. ...

Jun 23, 2011 at 23:20

I agree that it would be nice, but I think the intention of this site is to give the font authors complete freedom to specify their terms.

It would be much easier if it was clear what the license information is right on the download page instead of in a txt file that is saved inside a ZIP.

It is frustrating to find a font with no contact information or a link leading to a dead site. I've just come to accept that it happens.

I'm not sure how much responsibility dafont should have for that. It might also be that dafont chooses to let the author set his terms in order to avoid any liability?

With all that said, I do think that dafont is a wonderful resource for thousands of fonts and I think that FAR outweighs the negatives - such as no or incomplete author information.

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