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I want to use the font Trajan Pro, but I'm not sure that it would be legal. I've read a bit on fonts and copyright, and the only thing I could get was it depends on the license and where it was copyrighted, and sometimes it isn't copyrighted at all.

So how would I tell if the font Trajan Pro, or any other font, is under copyright?

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Could you let us know what research you did on the subject? –  Sam Hocevar Mar 12 '12 at 10:19
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I went on the adobe website and looked for Trajan Pro, but after I answered all of the questions, the page froze, this happend on all 3 of my tries. I went to here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TrajanPro_font.svg, but it was useless,nwalsh.com/comp.fonts/FAQ/cf_13.htm which I didn't understand, and gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/1635/… which turned out to have nothing. I have done research –  Russell Mar 12 '12 at 10:39
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2 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Fonts, like all forms of creative expression, are covered by copyright unless their copyright owner explicitly releases them into the public domain. Distributing a font, or derivative works of the font (bitmap images of text rendered using the font, for example) would be a violation of copyright, unless you have a license to do so.

The particular font you mention, Trajan Pro, was created by Carol Twomby. A license for this font (and several of her other fonts) can be purchased from Adobe.

According to the licensing terms, this font license gives permission to embed the font into an electronic document for the purposes of preview and print, but not for the font to be installable by any end-users of such a document. It does not explicitly grant the right to (for example) be baked into a texture page and used in a game, so it's not obvious whether even purchasing a license would allow you to legally use this font the way that you wish to. As usual for this sort of thing: consult a practising lawyer in your area for an authoritative answer of whether a game constitutes an "electronic document" for the purposes of this font license.

Similar discussions have been held on the official Adobe discussion forums a few years back, but never received an official reply from Adobe.

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Fonts are weird in that way. On one hand they're considered to be art, in the other they're considered to be computer programs. Print house has to have license to fonts you want to print, but if you render the fonts to splines as part of larger art, they don't. You can print thousand fliers with a font and only pay once for the license. And so on. It's always been a bit hazy. –  Jari Komppa Mar 12 '12 at 11:05
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Plus, every font publisher seems to have their own terms about what is and isn't permitted with the fonts they license. Honestly, font licensing is a real mess, and has been for decades. My games all just use the GNU FreeFont fonts solely so I don't have to worry about managing font licenses. gnu.org/software/freefont –  Trevor Powell Mar 12 '12 at 11:17
    
Your statement about derivative works needs clarification: for instance, the United States consider bitmap renderings of a vector font to be public domain. –  Sam Hocevar Mar 12 '12 at 11:58
    
Also helpful - theleagueofmoveabletype.com - it's a source of artistic and everyday open source fonts with a very liberal license –  lochok Mar 12 '12 at 12:28
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It looks your font has got a commercial distribution type.

In this case, referring to this article, it looks you can't sell any app using that font without paying additional fees to the author first.

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-1. The linked document has nothing at all to do with Trajan Pro; it is a font end-user license agreement from a different company, covering a different set of fonts. –  Trevor Powell Mar 12 '12 at 10:52
    
Indeed. Actually your answer below mine should really deserve the highest rank! –  user14170 Mar 12 '12 at 10:55
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No worries! I just tend to get a little cranky over fact-checking answers to legal questions. Always paranoid about someone taking the wrong advice and getting in legal trouble as a result. –  Trevor Powell Mar 12 '12 at 10:59
    
I'm new on stackoverflow but is there any possibility for the OP to switch to your answer? –  user14170 Mar 12 '12 at 11:11
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Can you delete an accepted answer? –  jhocking Mar 12 '12 at 11:18
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