Fonts that can be used for free only by mentioning the author -- a clarification

Riccardo Mori's picture

Hi folks!

I'm a long-time member of this fine place, but alas I rarely post. This is the first time I start a thread and I do hope I'm posting in the right forum section.

A few days ago, a dear friend of mine wrote me:

Since the beginning of this year, I've been working in a section of the Publications Office of the EU that deals with copyright. A few days ago I was given the task of revising a part of our site that deals with multimedia publications in terms of copyright. The paragraph about fonts (archaically called "founts") reads:

"Founts are sometimes subject to copyright protection, for example the fount currently used for the Official Journal of the European Communities (Albertina), and are thus not automatically usable in other circumstances without the prior written permission of the rights owner"

I was thinking of rephrasing it like this:

"Some founts are a commercial product and can only be used if they have been regularly purchased. For example, the fount currently used for the Official Journal of the European Union (Albertina) is produced and sold by Linotype GmbH and must be purchased from them to be used."

Then I showed it to my direct superior, who told me that there are open source fonts, commercial fonts and other kinds of free fonts that can be used free of charge only by mentioning the author of the font. I've never heard of the latter category, but maybe you can enlighten me (Google wasn't much helpful).

I told him that I've never actually encountered such a condition of use on fonts. Or at least, not phrased that way. Instead, I have encountered the familiar "This font is free for non-commercial use" or "...for personal use only".

So, what I'm asking you is basically this: Is my friend's boss correct in claiming that there are "other kinds of free fonts that can be used free of charge only by mentioning the author of the font"? It doesn't sound right to me.

Thanks in advance for your attention and insight!


metalfoot's picture

I have heard of that, but I can't think of any examples at the moment.

brianskywalker's picture

This is called attribution. Some fonts use the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License, which allows any use, under the condition the fonts are attributed in the specified by the author or licensor. There is are fonts that use it listed on this page The IM Fell Types also used a similar license, but have since switched to the SIL Open Font License.

Hope that helps.

sgh's picture

The license of the font Kerkis (a nice Greek accompaniment to Bookman) states that

If you want to use this font family in commercial work (like in books) you *must* include in the Copyright section the fact that you are using "Kerkis (C) Department of Mathematics, University of the Aegean".

The font is otherwise free to use. However, I think Kerkis is now also licensed under the LaTeX Project Public License, and that license does not have such a restriction.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

You can not ‘purchase’ fonts (like most software) — you pay for a license to use them, the cost of which depends on the way the font is deployed and the number of computers it will installed on.

The so called free fonts mostly use a licensing scheme where personal use is free, but commercial usage is subject to a fee.

The whole attribution issue is debatable — I have never seen a EULA for a free font where this was a requirement. Distribution is a different aspect: you are required to keep font and EULA together when redistributing.

Jens Kutilek's picture

I know a few fonts that use a Creative Commons Attribution license. For example, Yanone Kaffesatz and Vollkorn (at least until Google »liberated« them), and my own Comic Jens. Maybe it’s a German thing ;)

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