'Free' font download sites for fonts that are NOT free

LauraWorthington's picture

I'm certain I'm not alone in this rather disturbing topic (and even more certain that there has been a thread about this topic posted before - I did look for it, but to no avail) - I would love to hear comments, advice, etc. about websites that blatantly post your font for others to download them for free. And then to insult to injury, request that you jump through ridiculous hoops to get them removed. How much time do you all spend pursuing this, what's your take on it, approach, etcetera?

Thanks in advance from this lost little rookie type designer :)

~ Laura Worthington

oldnick's picture

The only consolation is that these sites often make the people who want the free downloads jump through hoops as well, and/or attempt to infect the freeloaders' computers with spyware or malware...

LauraWorthington's picture

Thank you Oldnick! That does make me feel better! :) So, do you pay attention to it all, or just let it go?

Si_Daniels's picture

You could skip the hoops and try sending a cease and desist letter from "your attorney" (I'm sure you can knock out a scary looking legal letterhead) to the registered owner of the Web site.

Micha Mirck's picture

I'm afraid that such a letter would cause maniacally laughter when received by a the people behind a site in Turkey, that offers 1000 of fonts.

Nick Cooke's picture

Forget about it. I have - there are loads of sites with free downloads of my stuff, and there's not a great deal I can do about it. Most professional graphic designers wouldn't entertain the idea of stealing from type designers. Just stay calm and put it out of your mind, calm, calm.


If it's any consolation I'm sure your fonts are going to do well from what I've seen.

Si_Daniels's picture

>I'm afraid that such a letter would cause maniacally laughter when received by a the people behind a site in Turkey, that offers 1000 of fonts.

Probably right. I was thinking more about the semi-legitimate sites that have a published file removal process.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Insanity later ;)

Ray Larabie's picture

If you find a site with Mediafile/Rapishare links, don't even bother contacting the owner of the site. They'll just tell you that they don't host fonts, you'll waste a lot of time and get nowhere. Do to where the files are hosted. You can take Mediafire links down pretty quickly. You have to write up a list of fonts along with your address, phone number and some DMCA required rigmarole. But once you've done it, you can quickly target and shut down subsequent Mediafire & Rapidshare links by sending the same info. I've done it a few times. People can re-upload the files but if you really want to shoot a link down, you can.

If you find a site that appears to be offering your fonts through Usenet, just ignore it. The casual downloader won't bother with those anyway. A lot of those sites create fake lists of files based on search inquiries. If you search for nude photos of Nick Shinn, they will later claim that they have nude photos of Nick Shinn which you have to pay to access. That's what I heard anyway . . . from this guy I know. Yeah.

If you find a site that's offering your fonts for direct download, send a polite email first, that's always done the trick for me. I've always found free fonts site operators to be reasonable. They're either reasonable or absent. There were three cases where the site owners didn't bother to leave a contact link. I contacted the ISP, they gave they guy a few days to respond, they didn't and the whole site was shut down. To my knowledge, none of those sites ever returned. Ba-boom!

LauraWorthington's picture

Thanks everyone - it's definitely a lot to think about and sounds like I'll have to deal with this on a case by case basis. Has anyone had any experience with dealing with fonts101.com? I received an email from someone who said they liked my work and wanted to alert me to it. I look and sure enough...

dezcom's picture

Oh, Si, don't tempt me ;-) "(I'm sure you can knock out a scary looking legal letterhead)"

Tomi from Suomi's picture

I just found out that my Tension font was illegally downloaded 1236 times from 101, and from other sites I keep getting personal reguests to send them copies of my Suomi Hand and Script fonts, even after I told them I'm the designer of the fonts, and their reguest is illegal. Go figure.

johnnydib's picture

Regarding 'haley' it's an Ambigram Laura.

dezcom's picture

"...even after I told them I'm the designer of the fonts, and their reguest is illegal."

They don't seem to think anything of it or never will.

typeshopper's picture

laura, it's me who send you that email about your font being shared
this is what i got from the site owner:


its not a matter of being scared or not, its just that as I mentioned earlier I do not check every topic personally, the ones you have posted above indeed are commercial fonts being shared I agree.

however for me its easier just to sleep, relax and wakeup on any complains that come to my mailbox via the Report Abuse button :-)

if you represent any font-foundary, you are at free will go ahead use the report abuse button on all the topics which are sharing commercial fonts, no issues with me.

so you can send complain thru the report abuse button, he will delete the thread

LauraWorthington's picture

Thank you Johnnydib about the ambigram tip!

dezcom's picture

Glad you got a chuckle from them. Laura.

Ray Larabie's picture

Last December, I politely asked Fonts101 to remove a link from their site and they did.

typeshopper's picture

i think you haven't seen the darkest side yet...
any type designer with hair will pull all their hair off in no time,
if they get into two most outrageous sites,
one from russia, another one from spain
but your positive action and effort should be done rightfully
keep it up

ophello's picture

I like to think that most designers buy fonts legitimately (Typophile users already busted my chops about this. I like to think that I've learned my lesson.) Those who steal are hopefully in the shadows and use the fonts for their own closeted purposes.

I only hope that the people who are putting your typefaces out in the open with their works (and, hence, ought to own them legally) are not the same people who are pirating them.

People who understand type are the most likely group to purchase them. Hence, they are the target market. People who wantonly pirate fonts probably have no idea how to use them effectively. I, too, would be offended if someone stole my work, but I wouldn't expect some random font pirate to siphon off my creative power and make a killing.

Unless, of course, this happens more than I know. I got in trouble for walking this fine line in another thread...

VBM's picture

Ok cue violins. Now lets get some impoverished crying African children in here. I want those tears to be moving in slow motion, great. Now when she goes into 'blatantly post' move into a crescendo with those violins. Lets get some soft glow on those kids. No wait, even better scrap the lighting and lets just do a black backdrop with a flickering candle in the foreground. Ok Laura, Laura- can you sound a little more pathetic, bring your pitch up a notch but not too whiny like nails on a chalkboard. We need to find the one person in the universe who gives a damn that's not Chuck Davis. Maybe we could hire Sally Struthers to fill in for you.

Steven Acres's picture

Oh, the internet. Where any lonely, awkward nerd can pretend like he's Cool McDude without getting swirlied and laughed at by all the girls.

riccard0's picture

By the way, congratulations on topping the Best Sellers list at MyFonts! :-)

LauraWorthington's picture

Thanks Riccardo! :)

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Whatever happened with those nude photos of Nick Shinn? I’m sure they’d be very popular among the girls.

dezcom's picture

sold out on ebay and fetched a high price, Frode :-)

Fabien Barral's picture

If you contact copyright@theplanet.com and complain about all your fonts being shared on fonts101, they very well could take it down as it is a violation of your copyright.

TKDesign's picture

Before sites like Myfonts, how did you determine whether or not a typeface would work for your intended use? Especially display type that you’d like to customize.

Before buying the font, how do you show your client what their new brand identity could look like? Am I to buy a font for a comp?
I currently use Myfonts and screen grab (Is this immoral?) until the client has approved the design. Once the client approves, I always buy the font or charge it to them.

If anyone has a better suggestion than screen grabs then please let me know. Downloading free fonts is obviously one that I’m not in favour of.

kevintheophile's picture

About this, visit my topic "Why do teh clients have pleasure in violating the EULAs' rules?" and you'll know the problems of piracy and violations of EULAs.

kevintheophile's picture

@TKDesign, please don't be confused "free fonts" with "pirate fonts". I'm not against downloading the free and ORIGINAL/LEGITIME fonts.

If you're against them and force the type designers not to offer the free fonts, many crackers will be very able to invade your security system, attack you and will be very furious with you as if the pirates of fairytale invaded the ship of English soldiers, attacked and were furious with the English people who would visit Caribbean Islands and Spain and Portugal islands.

kevintheophile's picture

@TK Design, you're false and hypocrite!

I searched a lot for you, I found your Facebook's profile, your site, your blog.... I found what you wrote in your blog http://59amblepath.blogspot.com/ — "dafont — Free and Dirty"!

How can you be against the free fonts if you offer your free and dirty fonts?

kevintheophile's picture

TK Design is very dissimulated!

Ray Larabie's picture

@kevintheophile Why would "crackers" infiltrate font vendor sites when they can get torrent pretty much any font around?

You must live in a fantasy world where skilled font thieves break into font sites like cat burglars in the night. The reality is: people trade fonts with Rapidshare etc. Some web sites offer commercial font downloads free. Some people commit credit card fraud. Some are posted on Usenet binaries and the rest are in torrents. Even if I spent all my time combating this, I could only reduce piracy a small percentage.

You come in here like some kind of **** street preacher telling us "news" we already know. Who needs it? What are you adding to the discussion?

I don't know why you're laying into TK Design. Your comments don't even relate to what he wrote. You just seem to be interested in trolling.

kevintheophile's picture


You're really very funny for thinking I'm trolling you and them... but you're and someone of this forum are trolling me and the other users too. Very funny your critic, but I accept your critic. I'm glad when you called me "troll" but you're also a troll.

If you think I'm a troll, why were you trolling me?

I won't spend the time with you and this forum. If you think that combat against the piracy doesn't work, the problem is yours, you'll lose the market and the money. Poor of you!


Jackson's picture

You think there's a market and money in piracy?

Bert Vanderveen's picture

In answer to jackson's question: There is money in piracy because ads for porn sites are everywhere on the torrent-sites.

Jackson's picture

I know people make money off hosting pirate sites and from using stolen fonts. I was posing the question from the perspective of someone who makes fonts.

JohnHoffman's picture

I'm a largely retired lawyer with an interest in typography. I've never been a designer.

I understand the annoyance of seeing one's work used without consent and without compensation and I sympathize. Nonetheless, the pirating of fonts likely does not lead to significant loss of revenue to the designers and foundries.

Unconsented use falls into 3 general categories:

1. Use within the Fair Use Doctrine, which allows use of copyrighted material under certain conditions, e.g., for educational purposes, criticism, etc. Downloading by font collectors who do not actually use the fonts for print materials, websites, etc., likely fall into this category.

2. Improper use by high-end designers and design studios who are being compensated for their work. These people certainly should be paying for fonts and their improper use of fonts and other intellectual property does represent a loss of revenue to the creator of the font or other intellectual property. I am not privy to the data, but from what I've heard most such designers properly license material they use and charge the cost to the customer. If so, this group does not represent significant losses to the designers of the work they incorporate into their designs.

3. Improper use by low-end designers. This use is clearly improper, but also likely does not represent a significant loss of revenue. If one is designing a flyer for a local business, e.g., Sam's Car Wash, Sam doesn't know much about fonts and doesn't care what font is used so long as someone can read the flyer with the $1 off regular price coupon. If the designer chooses to use a font that he or she has not licensed, the use is likely personal whim. Not being able to pass the cost along to the customer, the designer is unlikely to pay for fonts for which he or she does not hold a license. Instead, if the designer was unable to use the unlicensed font, he or she would simply use a font to which he or she had a license through purchase of the computer's operating system, Adobe Creative Suite, etc.

So. . . . Take pride in the beautiful work you've created, enjoy what revenues you do receive, and write letters to websites hosting illegal downloads asking them to remove the offending fonts. Don't waste money on hiring lawyers, though, because you are very unlikely to recover the cost of having a lawyer write a letter for you, let alone file a lawsuit for you, particularly when the hosting site is hosted outside your own country.

Finally, Laura, I've seen some of your fonts -- though I've never used one since courts would not welcome calligraphic script fonts in legal documents -- and I think your work is beautiful. Were I a designer of items for which your fonts are suitable, I would surely license and use them.

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