I'm creating a video game I intend to sell on computers, and I want to use a font that is under the license "Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)".

Do I have to sell my game under the same license, or is it enough just to credit the creator?

I have done research but I'm still unsure, specifically for fonts.

Font: https://www.1001fonts.com/7-12-serif-font.html

  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting (and unnecessary) legal loophole: fonts are protected by copyright, but typefaces are not and do not require attribution. IANAL, but this possibly means that rendering a ttf to a png and using it as a bitmap essentially allows you to legally "steal" a font. This probably doesn't hold in all jurisdictions and might not pass the sniff test in court, but it's an interesting idea nonetheless. It's also the right thing to do to give credit where credit is due. \$\endgroup\$
    – Beefster
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 22:47

2 Answers 2


Is attribution sufficient for a CC BY-SA 3.0-licenced font in a video game? Is it enough just to credit the creator?


Do I have to sell my game under the same license?


The web clearly states "the material".

Here, the material is the font. If you only use the font in your game, you only need to give the appropriate credit:

You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

If you were to also modify the font and use the modified version in your game, you would need to make it available to others under the same license: Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm curious whether converting the font to a signed distance field texture atlas to use with SDF font rendering would count as modification, so that you would need to make available your font atlas and character quad metadata for it... \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 14:07
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I thought about that too. I don't know the answer for sure although I would not think so, it's my understanding that when converting the font, one does not change the "art" of it, they just change the "format". One couldn't claim a copyright on it because visually nothing changed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I tend to agree with Vaillancourt, though it might also depend on the process. If the font was saved in an intermediate form that could be used in multiple different projects, that might be considered transformative - you have a new font type thing, derived from the old that could be used in place of other fonts. On the other hand, if any font file could be loaded & converted by the game at runtime, that wouldn't seem like a new font type thing as much as an use of the original. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pikalek
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 14:23


  • If you've used it, attribution is required.
  • If you've created a new separate artistic element from it, you must distribute your contribution.


It comes down to how you are using the font. From the license text:

ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

Using the font as is to display the player score does not remix, transform, or build upon the material.

Creating a new font with gore drips for displaying damage taken would be transformative. The new font would need to be released under the same license; the game uses the derivative font, but is not itself a derivative font. Attribution is still required in some context with the game, but the game itself is not subject to the CC license.

However, let's say the gore drips weren't part of a new font itself, but instead were added separately (perhaps as a special effects shader). In that case, the original font is not being transformed directly and is not a "separate artistic element". Because there's no new font that could be released, the "distribute your contributions" clause would not be applicable.

And in all cases, Creative Commons isn't a great license choice for software and creativecommons.org recommend against using it as such:

Can I apply a Creative Commons license to software?

We recommend against using Creative Commons licenses for software. Instead, we strongly encourage you to use one of the very good software licenses which are already available. We recommend considering licenses listed as free by the Free Software Foundation and listed as “open source” by the Open Source Initiative.

Unlike software-specific licenses, CC licenses do not contain specific terms about the distribution of source code, which is often important to ensuring the free reuse and modifiability of software. Many software licenses also address patent rights, which are important to software but may not be applicable to other copyrightable works. Additionally, our licenses are currently not compatible with the major software licenses, so it would be difficult to integrate CC-licensed work with other free software. Existing software licenses were designed specifically for use with software and offer a similar set of rights to the Creative Commons licenses.

Instead, they go on to say:

While we recommend against using a CC license on software itself, CC licenses may be used for software documentation, as well as for separate artistic elements such as game art or music.


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