Understanding Font Licenses for Your Online Business

Let’s talk about what you need to know about font licenses before you buy premium fonts, use Google fonts, or download free fonts for your business branding and website.

When you purchase (or download) a font to use in your business branding or on your website, you are agreeing to specific terms of use. These terms are set by the font’s creator or distributor and included in the font’s licensing agreement, often called the EULA (end-user licence agreement).

Here are some of the most common licenses offered for premium, free, and open source fonts. Use this information to help you find fonts to use legally for all your business branding needs.

Premium fonts

Premium font sites, like the ones listed in this post, offer several different licensing options for fonts. These licenses allow you to use fonts for specific purposes and in specific ways.

  • Desktop: You can install the font on your computer and use it in apps like Photoshop, Pages, Word. (Use these fonts for making logos, graphics for your blog, print documents.)
  • Web: You can embed the font on your website so it will be consistently displayed in browsers.
  • App: You can embed the font into apps for smart phones.
  • Ebook: You can used the font in emags, ebooks for consistent display on Kindles, iPads, etc.
  • Server: You can host the font on your server so that others can use it to make personalized products (For example: This license would be used by an online printer that allows you to choose fonts and design your business cards on their site.)

Trying to decide what license to purchase? Start by listing out all the different ways you plan to use the font. If you’re planning to use a font for your brand identity (logo), on your website, and also want to make sure you can use that font in your apps and ebooks, then you’ll need to buy a license for that font that covers all those different uses.

Free fonts

On free font sites the licenses vary widely.

You have to check each font for its specific license. Some of the fonts may not offer licenses for commercial use (and yes, no matter how small your business is, it’s still considered commercial). The ways you can use free fonts (on your desktop, website, in apps, etc.) may be limited by the licenses.

Open source fonts

Google fonts are an example of open source fonts.

Google’s license: “All of the fonts are Open Source. This means that you are free to share your favorites with friends and colleagues. You can even customize them for your own use, or collaborate with the original designer to improve them. And you can use them in every way you want, privately or commercially — in print, on your computer, or in your websites.”

This freedom of use makes Google fonts a great choice for many branding and business projects.

Be Font Legal!

When you purchase or source any fonts (free, paid, or open source) always check the font usage/licensing agreements to see how you can legally use the fonts.

Most premium font sites will list this kind of information alongside the font so you can choose the best licensing option to purchase. For free fonts always check the “Read-Me” file that comes along with the font when you download it, for the exact usage details.

Looking for more info on fonts? Read: 5 Free for Commercial Use Resources, 2 Free Tools to Help You Identity Fonts, and 8 Premium Typography Resources.

Have fun becoming a font addict like me!

If you’re ready to take your brand up a notch, or two, and learn more about which fonts will best tell your brand story, come join Jewels Branch.