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Legal use of fonts

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My apologies if this is the wrong place to post this. If it is, you can move it.

Does anybody know where I can find fonts that are legal to use with a Direct X font engine? I sent an email to the MyFonts site telling them what I wanted to do and asked if their license allowed this. For those that don't know, the direct x font engine uses a sprite with all the characters, numbers, and symbols to display any string. MyFonts told me this is making a "derivative" of the font and that is not allowed.

So does anybody know where I can get fonts for this purpose? Can I use fonts from the XNA redistributable package?

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Fonts can get tricky.

Some fonts can be licensed and distributed with your game.

Many fonts have licenses that forbid distribution but under careful reading allow you to make glyph sheets from them.

Some fonts are licensed under terms that don't allow any use except in specific limited cases.


A fun thing about licenses is that many times even if you contact the company and they say "no", they use an industry-standard license that says "yes". Look at the actual license, figure out what it says, and if you want to make an email to your business lawyer.

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nighthawk, are you going to provide a font to your users, or are you just going to be using a font in creating text for your game? In other words, when someone downloads your game, are they also going to get a usable font with it?

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Tom

I will not distribute the font in its standard format (ttf, otf, ...). But I would like to use the font in Photoshop to create a character sheet for a direct x font engine. Basically a sprite sheet but with the characters I need in my game at the correct resolution.

Basically my font engine will take "hello" and place those characters from the sprite sheet together on the screen.

However, my users will have access to the sprite sheet (png or something like that).

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If the font's license says that it's ok for you to use it for commercial purposes, then you can probably make a glyph sheet (bitmap) from it, and then use that bitmap in your game. It's basically the same as making a commercial flyer, poster, etc...

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Theres this https://www.google.com/fonts which says this in the about
 

About Google Fonts

A web with web fonts is more beautiful, readable, accessible and open.

Google Fonts makes it quick and easy for everyone to use web fonts, including professional designers and developers. We believe that everyone should be able to bring quality typography to their web pages and applications.

Our goal is to create a directory of web fonts for the world to use. Our API service makes it easy to add Google Fonts to a website in seconds. The service runs on Google's servers which are fast, reliable and tested. Google provides this service free of charge.
Open Source Fonts

All of the fonts are Open Source. This means that you are free to share your favorites with friends and colleagues. You can even customize them for your own use, or collaborate with the original designer to improve them. And you can use them in every way you want, privately or commercially — in print, on your computer, or in your websites.

We are working with designers around the world to publish quality typeface designs that are made for the web. If you are a type designer and would like to discuss this, please get in touch.

Many of Google's own web pages are already using Google Fonts, such as Google's About page and Google's World Wonders Project which use Open Sans.
— The Google Fonts Team

 

 

Im not a lawyer and although ive never used them commercially, there doesnt seem to be any restrictions from reading the part I made bold, they can all be downloaded in zip.

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Thanks guys! Sorry for the delayed response, I had company over for the last few days. So I can use the google fonts like Open Sans and make a glyph sheet for my game and it will be legal?

I am sorry. I am paranoid when it comes to legal issues and what I am allowed to do. I don't want to do anything illegal.

Are all the fonts at the Google fonts page open source?

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I am sorry. I am paranoid when it comes to legal issues and what I am allowed to do. I don't want to do anything illegal.

Then talk to a lawyer, that's pretty much the only way to be 100% sure there isn't any catch (sometimes even when you think it's illegal there may be a requirement you're bound to skip and make it illegal sudden of all, even permissive licenses tend to suffer from this).

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Nope it is not legal:

And you can use them in every way you want, privately or commercially — in print, on your computer, or in your websites.

It doesn't say video games. So I am going with NOT LEGAL.

Why is it so damn hard to find fonts for making games? Just one damn font and I have searched for years.

The XNA Font Redistribute Package is not legal too, as it specifically states "for use in your XNA Game Studio game".

Doing this in Times New Roman or Arial is not legal either, since making glyph sheets is classified as derivative work. I contacted all the major font services, and they have NO fonts that fit this without spending thousands of dollars for thousands of game downloads.

How the hell are indie developers using fonts?!

Really. I want to learn how to program Direct X, but if I cannot legally put text on the screen, what is the point?

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They just worded it in an informal way. It is you who are having difficulty interpreting it.

And you can use them in every way you want, privately or commercially — in print, on your computer, or in your websites.

Use them in every way you want, privately or commercially. That's a public domain statement and it's all you need to know. Using them in a game is the way you want.
Then the sentence that follows is just to clarify some possible uses. "On your computer" means that you will make use of the font software (the technical name for the vectorial data that defines the characters) on your computer in some way, like in your game etc.
That second sentence is not necessary.

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I agree that that second sentence is misleading, but its intention is to exemplify rather than limit the possible uses. It doesn't make sense to say "You can use this on any way you want - but only on ways A, B or C."

If you're looking for more formal licences, go to that Font Squirrel website that I posted before. I did post it for a reason.
Here's an example of "Lato," an OFL-licenced font:
http://www.fontsquirrel.com/license/lato

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Nope it is not legal:
 

And you can use them in every way you want, privately or commercially — in print, on your computer, or in your websites.

 

That text is not the license, it's a human readable explanation, describing the license.

When you review one of the fonts on the google fonts page, at the bottom you'll see something like:
3 Styles by Vernon Adams
SIL Open Font License, 1.1

 

Clicking on the link will show you the actual license. If the font you want to use is under the OFL linked above, then you should be fine.

If you view your bitmap font as a piece of artwork, then there's no restrictions on you at all.

If you view your bitmap font as a derivative, then it itself becomes licensed under the OFL. You can still package/embed it into your game, but you must include the OFL text somewhere alongside it (in your readme or a link to it in your about screen). You can sell your game, encrypt your files, use DRM, etc... however, if someone manages to extract your bitmap font, they're free to reuse it themselves according to the OFL license.

 

So basically:

  • Stick to OFL licensed fonts (or other nice open-source licenses).
  • Include the OFL text (or a link to it) along with your games files, mentioning which fonts are covered by it.
  • If someone 'steals' the font out of your game, they're free to use it too.
  • If you make modifications to the font, it is still OFL-licensed.
  • Don't plagiarize and pretend you're the original author.
Edited by Hodgman

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Well I also want to release free tutorials for Direct X. I was asking since other game developers are here and if they knew of a site that lists fonts for game developers.

So I should spend several hundred dollars to ask a lawyer that I can use a font for free samples and an open source video game? What is wrong asking other game developers?

There could have been a fontsforgamedevelopers site or something that I didn't know about. I did not know about the Google fonts page having OFL fonts, so that means I am fine to use those.

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What is wrong asking other game developers?

 

Nothing. But you keep asking questions that a lawyer could answer better and more definitively. You don't have to hire a lawyer. But if you're nervous, a lawyer could give you the best advice.

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