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Microsoft Typography | Features... | FAQ... | Font redistribution and Licensing

Font redistribution and license issues

If you have any questions about font redistribution and license issues send them to how to contact us. Where possible we will post questions and answers here.

Q What can I do with the fonts supplied with Microsoft products?

A The fonts are governed by the same restrictions as the products they are supplied with. You are not allowed to copy, redistribute or reverse engineer the font files. For full details see the license agreement supplied with the product.

Some fonts may be embedded within document files. Embedding allows fonts to travel with documents. Embedded fonts can only be used to print, preview and in some cases edit the document in which they are embedded.

Q I'd like to license a particular font supplied with a Microsoft product for use in my application / utility / multimedia cd-rom.
or I'd like to license additional copies, or buy a site-license, for a particular font supplied with a Microsoft product.

A Most of the fonts supplied with Microsoft products have been licensed from leading type foundries. In most cases Microsoft does not have the right to sublicense them. You can use Microsoft's free Font properties extension to find out who to contact regarding licensing issues.

Q Okay, but there are some fonts such as Comic Sans MS, Trebuchet MS, Verdana, Georgia, Webdings, Wingdings etc., which are owned by Microsoft. Can I license these for redistribution with my application / utility / multimedia cd-rom.

A Microsoft does not license them directly but many are available from Monotype.

Q A friend has given me a disk full of what they described as 'public domain fonts'. I'd like to install them, but I want to be sure they are legal. If my boss catches me with pirate software on my office computer I'll be in big trouble. What should I do?

A If you are using Windows 95 or Windows NT 4 download Microsoft's free Font properties extension. This extension will let you view the copyright and trademark information of any TrueType font you have access to. If you don't have the extension double clicking on an installed or uninstalled font will load the font into the Windows font viewer where copyright information will also be shown.

Q I've found a few fonts with no copyright information at all. Can I assume these are public domain or should I be suspicious?

A If you find a font that doesn't contain any copyright or trademark information be very careful. Even public domain, freeware, or custom fonts should contain at least the name of their designer.

If you think a font may be public domain, freeware or shareware look for an accompanying 'readme' file, this will contain details of how to register the font, and what restrictions there are in using it. For example many freeware fonts can only be put to non-commercial use.

Q So where would such 'blank' fonts come from?

A It could be that these fonts have originated in another font format and have been run through a conversion utility which has stripped out the copyright information. Although in most cases converted fonts can legally be used by the person who purchased the original font, the redistribution of converted fonts is usually forbidden.

It could also be that the copyright information has been deliberately removed by a font pirate trying to avoid the authorities.

Q So what should I do with these 'blank' fonts?

A Contact the suppliers and ask for an explanation. If you've lost track of where the font came from, it's probably best to remove the font from your system. If the font is one you use quite often, then a legitimate type supplier will probably be able to provide a legitimate version for a fair price.

Q Some of the fonts on my system are attributed to Altsys or Macromedia, but these companies aren't type foundries are they?

A Macromedia are the current suppliers of the Fontographer type design application (formerly supplied by Altsys). If a designer creates a font using this application and doesn't change the default settings then the font will be attributed to Macromedia (or Altsys).

Any designer who creates a font from scratch will encode their name or foundry name within the font. If you acquire a font attributed to Altsys or Macromedia then you should be suspicious of its origins.

this page was last updated 8 February 2012
© 2012 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Terms of use.
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Microsoft Typography | Features... | FAQ... | Font redistribution and Licensing