Is it legal to use copyrighted fonts without a license for non-profit projects?


Question

I just want to use some specific fonts for a non-profit project.

I'll never sell or get any money (not myself or anyone related) with this. Not myself or anyone or the makers of those fonts will make any money, at all.

I just thought "these fonts looks great, I want to use them". Before doing anything though, I prefer asking about it.

Am I legally allowed to use copyrighted fonts for non-profit work?

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7/14/2014 6:25:00 PM

Answer: No

There is no copyright exemption allowing you to obtain and use a commercial font without paying for it if you do not intend to make a profit.

You need a license to obtain any font (unless you designed and created the font yourself) regardless of the way you intend to use it.

That said, if you have already obtained the font, and you did so legitimately, then there is no restriction against using it.

Legitimate ways of obtaining a font, with a license, include:

  • A font came bundled with other software and you obtained the whole bundle legitimately.
  • You bought a font from a commercial font foundry/retailer.
  • You obtained a font that has a free license, such as the SIL Open Font License, or just a "free for use" license.

In addition to this, the question loosely uses the term "non-profit", but that term is not appropriate here. "Non-profit" is an official designation given to organisations satisfying certain criteria. Your use may not even qualify as "non-commercial" because even though you say you won't be making any money from your project, if it is used in a commercial setting, where for example it may have the effect of promoting or advertising a business, it's still commercial.

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2/12/2015 11:45:00 AM

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