A Note on Infographics and Font Copyright

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

When you’re working on custom infographics, it’s best to know the laws about fonts and copyrights. You probably already know that you can’t use artist’s drawings or writer’s words without proper attribution. If a piece of work is protected by a copyright, it cannot be reproduced without permission. Fonts present a similar situation and a bit of a gray area.

A little-known difference between fonts and typefaces: A typeface is the artistic treatment of letters, numbers, and symbols, applied consistently. A font is the computer file or program that tells the computer to use a certain typeface.

In the United States, typefaces are not covered by copyright law. Courts have determined that they are basic “utilitarian” objects that don’t need protection. However, courts have ruled in favor of protecting fonts.

The most common copyright protection comes in the form of End User License Agreements, which may state that the font is licensed for use on only one computer. If that’s the case, do not start swapping and copying fonts with friends or colleagues.

While you are starting out as an infographic designer, stick to the fonts that come with your design software. Nowadays, the choices are pretty extensive. Plenty of fonts and font families are also available for purchase, but you might find that most projects are well-served by fonts you already own.