I recently posted some resources, including fonts, that authors can use for book covers or other things like websites, business cards, etc. However if, like me, you find the copyright and licensing of fonts a bit murky, here’s a great article on it that finally explains it in very easy to understand terms:
In a nut shell the article states that there are two things at play here, fonts and typefaces. What we generally call a font – aka the image of the letters – is not really a font but a typeface. The font is the program portion that tells your computer and printer what to do with it. Interestingly enough, typefaces – the way the letters look – for the most part are not protected by copyright in the United States! So what does that mean? Technically it means that so long as you trace the letters yourself and turn it into a font using a font maker or even just keep it as images that you paste onto your project, it’s yours.
Anyway, that cleared a lot up for me, as I have been thinking of the fonts as the letter shapes themselves; as though each letter was an image that you licensed the use of. Instead, what is copyrighted is the actual font file. If I license a font I can’t send it to you, but what I can do is trace all the letters and send you those. Kind of bizarre, huh?
* of note – I assume this may be amended in the font license itself if it specifies that you can’t do that, but I don’t know for sure. The only fonts I have ever downloaded that addressed this were foreign and, as the article states, some foreign countries allow for typeface copyrights.