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Are all fonts that show in the drop-down menu, legal for commercial use?

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Recently I read somewhere that not all fonts are okay to use for commercial use since the font (program) can be copyrighted. Seems fair, a font is a program which is someone's work that can be copyright protected. 


I have only downloaded fonts from google.com/fonts, which I know to be okay for commercial use, but then there are fonts that I haven't downloaded from google.com/fonts, which are the many that show from Paint.NET's dropdown font menu. Are all these fonts that show in the dropdown legal for commercial use?


Can I assume the same for any program? That if I haven't downloaded fonts from any site other than okay-sites like google.com/fonts, any font that shows from a dropdown menu in a program is okay for commercial use? 


Maybe not any program, but how about for Sony Movie Studio Platinum 13? That's the only other program I use that uses fonts.


Thanks everyone. 

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I can only comment on USA law. Contrary to what big business wants you to believe, typefaces generally can't be copyrighted. In copyright law there's something called 'threshold of originality', and typesfaces don't cross that threshold.

If you want a definitive answer, you'll want to read up on past court cases on the matter... or talk to copyright lawyer.

(September 25th, 2023)  Sorry about any broken images in my posts. I am aware of the issue.

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Thanks toe_head, yeah I understand that typefaces can't be copyrighted however the fonts themselves can be. Just to be clear, Fonts and Typefaces aren't the same, font is a program that generates the display of the typeface and the typeface is what's generated. 


"So the fact that a font program creates something that can’t be copyrighted (a typeface) does not mean the font program itself cannot be copyrighted."


Source: Emily Evans, Law Student, http://glarts.org/font-and-typeface-legal-tip-sheet/


Typeface can't be copyrighted, fonts can be, but the question is not if they're copyrighted, it's if whether or not the fonts shown in Paint.NET's dropdown is legal for commercial use. 

Edited by Dinizterz
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Hello. :)

Paint.net lists the fonts that you have installed on your PC (from your font folder). It does not distinguish commercial friendly fonts from fonts that aren't commercial friendly. However, some types of fonts are no longer compatible with paint.net, so those fonts are excluded from the list.


It's not really a matter of paint.net's fonts being legal for commercial use, it's more of if the fonts in your PC's font folder are legal for commercial use.
To know more info on a font, see if you can learn a font's name and then try to do an internet search on it. A lot of the "basic" and "web-safe" fonts that are pre-installed on most PC's I think are legal for most uses, since you sort of paid for them when you bought your PC. For examples,  Arial, Arial Black, Comic Sans MS, Courier New, Georgia, Impact, Times New Roman, Trebuchet MS, Verdana, etc. I'm not positive on their usage rights, but they are standard fonts.
If you want more fonts that are legal and free to use, this website offers some. Fonts with a green $ tag are said to be free for commercial use.



a font is a program


Just out of curiosity, when you say "a font is a program" do you mean  "font is made from a program" ?


Sorry, I'm not super tech savvy, so I tend to ask questions about some things as I'm always trying to learn. Personally, I've never heard of font being called "a program" before. I know about programs that make fonts, such as this one, but the fonts themselves always seemed like mini works of art to me. And just like how most works of art have copyright laws, font has copyright laws. I tried to do an internet search to see where and how font is called a program, but I could only find programs that make fonts, I could not find anything that called font "a program". What is font? doesn't mention font being a program either.

Edited by Cc4FuzzyHuggles
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Oh geez, now I'm confused about what is a font


This video helped me see the difference between a typeface and a font:



A typeface is a family of fonts, and a font is a member of that family. Anyone confirm this? I read that a font was a program some time ago and it made sense so I stuck with it. A program meaning a block of programming code that generates the typeface, or what you see on the screen. So, going from that definition to this new definition has got me confused...


Though the difference doesn't really matter in this case since I know fonts can be copyrighted (which now doesn't make sense), but it'd still be nice to know. 


Thanks cc4, so no not all fonts displayed are commercial-friendly, alright. 


I wish for a 'custom font filter' then, so I can only see the commercial-friendly fonts since it's kind of frustrating having to scroll through and dig around all those fonts to get the ones I'm going to use. Please .NET team!

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Paint.NET doesn't come with any fonts, so this isn't a Paint.NET specific question. 


I will not be implementing font management stuff into Paint.NET. You can pretty easily find other software for doing that.

The Paint.NET Blog: https://blog.getpaint.net/

Donations are always appreciated! https://www.getpaint.net/donate.html


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Most of the time when you download fonts it tells you how they can be used near the download button. Some even have read me files accompanying the download that will tell you. Best way to keep track is the old fashioned way of writing the acceptable uses down on a list of them. 



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