Font Licensing: Adobe CS vs Apple

Wow, what a shock. I always thought that any fonts that are on your computer could be freely used in images. I wish I had seen a few DISCLAIMERS.

Anyway, I have to go back and weed out all my illegal fonts. Can anyone tell me if the following basic rules are correct?

  1. If you’re subscribed to Adobe Creative Suite, then you can legally use any Adobe fonts without asking.

However, what happens if you cancel your Adobe CS subscription? Are your images with Adobe fonts still legal?

  1. If you’re using a Mac, any fonts that are installed by default but which are not associated with Adobe are ILLEGAL.

In summary, my understanding is that I can legally use Adobe fonts (because of my subscription to Adobe CS), but I cannot use Apple fonts without buying a license.

Also, do the rules apply equally to all images, or are there distinctions between, for example, book covers, images displayed with text in books and websites and images that are sold on their own (e.g. a map that you sell for $10)?

P.S. I wonder how many people have fallen into this trap, using fonts without even realizing that using them illegal. Shouldn’t Apple and others issue more obvious notices?

From Adobe’s website:

Can I keep using files I created with these fonts if I cancel Creative Cloud?

Yes and no. Any file which embeds the font data, such as PDF or image formats, and any text that has been rasterized or outlined, will continue to display correctly. These types of files may be reproduced and distributed independent of your subscription status.

Documents that reference fonts on your computer, such as an InDesign or Word document, will show a missing fonts warning and use a default font from the program in place of the one from Adobe Fonts. You would need to purchase a new font license and install the fonts on your computer to continue to display and edit these files.

I’m not sure where you got that information, but the following is directly from the OS X Catalina license agreement:

For what it’s worth, Apple’s reference to the Font Book info panel for most fonts included in the OS do not provide specifics on how the font may be used. Some do, but most don’t. A safe assumption, I think, is that if no usage restrictions are listed beyond what’s mentioned in the OS X license agreement, they’re safe to use. Honestly, I can’t image any court siding against someone who uses a font that came with the computer when nothing exists specifying that the font can’t be used. In other words, there’s an obvious and logical inference that the fonts that come with an operating system can be used.

Based upon the information quoted directly from Adobe and Apple, I think your concerns are misplaced. Fonts that are automatically loaded into your computer when you install various pieces of software are generally there for you to use but not copy and give away. If you purchase a font or, for that matter, even install a free font, the use of that font is subject to the license agreement that accompanied the sale or the download.

That was my hunch from the beginning. I can’t believe I’m the only person who assume it was legal to use fonts that are installed on my laptop.

Thanks for the feedback.

I had no idea about this. I make sure either to pay for fonts I use or use open license fonts. The fonts supplied with my Mac should be legal if they are selling them as part of the preinstalled software. If they are not, I have some explaining to do… Plus, how is any of this affected by copyright agreements outside the USA? It all seems too complicated to resolve - another reason to play it safe with the fonts you use.

Of all the dumbest things in designerland, the inability to output stuff you create because of the alphabet is bordering on insane these days.

I get that type designers put a lot of time and effort into a typeface.
Or not, depending on where you get it.

Technically I am required to license any typeface you send to me in a live file, but since most wide format is one-offs, not pages of text, that can be cost prohibitive, so having the designer just outline the stuff usually works. Usually. Unless we are doing a 3D sign and the typeface specifically forbids “made things.” :confounded: You may lose your “hinting” or you may find that the face you chose has really crumby outline files (better now than in rip.) No, PDFs aren’t (always) an option. You won’t have the profiles we need and there are so many combinations of printer and media, I can’t get you job options. you can send em, but you get what you get.

Plus, we have that little indemnity clause in our contract that says YOU are responsible for obtaining all permissions and will hold us blameless if someone comes looking for YOU.

I cannot retire out of this train-wreck of an industry fast enough.

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