Fonts and Copyright

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at
Mon Jul 17 15:16:47 UTC 1995

The situation regarding fonts and copyright isn't really complicated.
If someone copyrights a font then no one else may copy that font without
permission.   Usually, permission is granted to copy the font from its
installation disk for use on a single computer (CPU), just like with all
software.  Beyond that, anyone who wants a copy of the font must buy it
from the copyright holder or her agents.

If you make a variant form of a copyrighted font that exists on your
computer system you may not distribute it any more than you can
distribute the unmodified form.

The only fonts that may be distributed freely are fonts that are

a) not copyrighted (often home-made and poor quality);

b) fonts that are copyrighted but which have been made available free of
   charge by the copyright holder.  Such fonts include Bitstream Charter
   and Adobe Utopia, and the famous Computer Modern family of fonts by
   Donald Knuth.  

   There is a small number of other professional fonts that have been
   donated to the public by their manufacturers, but these fonts are
   usually not distributed as a complete set of styles (i.e., only bold,
   or normal and bold but no italic, etc.).

The creative effort that goes into the design and production of a
professional-quality font is very substantial; easily equivalent to
writing a book.  Like a book, the final design is protected by



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