7 Reasons You Should Not Share Font Files
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Do you often share font files with colleagues and friends? Discover why this seemingly harmless practice can have significant legal, ethical, and practical implications. Sharing font files without proper licensing is an unwise choice that can lead to various consequences.
Infringes on limitations of license agreement
- Different uses require different licensing agreements
You will need a commercial license if you use the font for commercial purposes or to promote a business or service with financial gain. Some fonts may also require a special license for embedding in applications, games, and ebooks. While we won’t delve into the various types of licenses, as they vary by the font designer, it is essential to know that distributing or using a font without a proper license is copyright infringement.
- The number and methods of how you share font files matters
When you purchase a font license, there are strict limitations on sharing it with others. Sharing the font file with others beyond these permitted uses constitutes copyright infringement.
For instance, most desktop licenses have limited “seats” or “workstations,” limiting the number of computers where the font is installed. In a corporate setting where you are likely to share fonts among team members in a cloud environment or company server, you would quickly exceed the maximum number of “workstations” of a regular desktop license. In most cases, you would need to purchase a different font license.
Do you plan to create a custom website with unique fonts? A desktop license typically permits you to create static images for a website. However, if you plan to embed the font in your website’s code, you would need a Webfonts license.
Exposes you and recipients to legal risks
You could inadvertently expose others to legal action, copyright violations, and security issues by sharing a font you legally purchased.
Multiplies copyright violation exponentially
Sharing fonts with others may seem harmless at first, but the implications can quickly snowball. Tracking usage and stopping piracy becomes nearly impossible due to the uncontrolled peer-to-peer spread. It is crucial to follow the safest policy: never share fonts without explicit commercial licensing permissions. By doing so, you can avoid a cascade of adverse effects that grow exponentially.
Deprives creators of livelihood
Each instance of font sharing represents a missed opportunity for designers to generate income. This profit loss hampers their ability to invest in marketing and resources necessary for business growth. Moreover, combating copyright violations incurs both time and monetary costs.
By engaging in legitimate sales, font designers receive valuable feedback to refine and update their fonts. They gain a deeper understanding of their audience’s preferences, giving them more insight and motivation for future font development.
Additionally, the reputation and standing of font creators can be adversely affected by modified, corrupted, or infected font files.
Harms brand and reputation
Embracing font theft and illegitimate shortcuts damages credibility and reputation and reflects poorly on a brand’s ethics and professionalism. Choose licensed fonts to ensure optimal quality, support designers, and maintain a strong brand image.
Files may be unreliable
Our post about pirated fonts explains several reasons to avoid using fonts downloaded from untrusted sources. Reputable sources for fonts give you peace of mind because you will have access to customer service, new font releases, and legal coverage.
Font files from suspicious sources can potentially exploit software applications and operating system vulnerabilities. Upon inspection of a font file, it may appear to have the appropriate icon and file extension. However, opening or using an infected font file (or other files bundled with a font download) can trigger the execution of malicious code. These files can install malware such as viruses, Trojans, spyware, and ransomware.
Examples of what infected font downloads can cause:
- allow an attacker to gain control of your computer
- monitoring of activities and keylogging that steals sensitive information
- manipulate text on computer, browser, and documents
- computer performance problems and crashes