Today I want to briefly discuss free fonts. Very few fonts are actually free. I’m not sure how we got to this odd “free” download system we’ve found ourselves in, but there is a fine print 9 times out of 10 and it’s important to be good citizens and respect your designer.
1. Very few of the fonts on the free download sites are officially free for all uses.
2. Free fonts on the free font download sites are often labeled free for “personal use.” I would say I see this about half the time. Awesome! Download and stick it on everything in your house! Put it on your kid’s birthday invitations and make wall graphics for every wall in your home (you know what I mean, Pinners). But if you find yourself turning that home-organization habit into a business and throw a logo together with that font, beware you have crossed the line between business and personal!
3. Free fonts that are not officially “free” and are those not labeled “free for personal use” but are instead labeled either “purchase for commercial use” or “not to be used commercially” at all. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the designer would allow people to download any part of it for free if that’s not the intention! I guess in hopes we’re all good citizens and will pay our designers – which every designer will tell you is not the case.
4. So here’s what you do – if there isn’t a clear “donate now” button by the font on the website, you need to read the “read me” file in the download file. They are not long – usually less than a page, if not less than a paragraph. You can do it. It might say you don’t have to do anything! Surprise, it really is free! But it will probably give you the name of the designer and their email and maybe a link to their site. Contact the designer and they will send you directions for how to pay and probably a suggestion of how much (I haven’t seen one for more than $25). If they don’t suggest an amount, then use your best discretion. It’s a one-time fee guys! That’s a good deal. The other good news is that when the designer is being paid out in this way, they probably don’t have a major surcharge taken out like they might through bigger, expensive font sellers.
There’s my two cents on making sure you’re an upstanding citizen and user of all the design love out there on the internet. Be nice, so that we can continue to have inexpensive options for things like fonts. And while you’re at it, quit stealing photos off of flickr! God/goddess/buddha/karma knows that you didn’t take that picture!
Thanks for listening! Here’s a funny for you! Graphic representations of terrible client suggestions, courtesy of Sharpsuits.